Denys Bouliane

(b. 8 May 1955, Grand-Mère, Shawinigan, Québec).

Canadian composer, now resident in both Canada and Germany, of mostly orchestral and chamber works that have been performed throughout Europe and North America; he is also active as a conductor.

Prof. Bouliane studied composition with Jacques Hétu, piano and violin at the Université Laval in Québec, Québec, where he earned his MMus in composition in 1979. He attended the Ferienkurse in Darmstadt in 1980 and studied composition with György Ligeti at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg from 1980–85, on grants from the governments of Canada and Québec.

Among his honours are prizes from the CBC and the Stichting Gaudeamus in Amsterdam (both 1982, both for Jeux de Société), the Prix de la SOCAN (1982, for Douze Tiroirs de demi-vérités pour alléger votre descente), the title Composer of the Year from the Canadian Music Council (1983), the Förderpreis für Musik from the city of Cologne (1985), the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music from the Canada Council for the Arts (1987, for À le Baron perché?) and the orchestral prize of the Forum junger Komponisten of WDR in Cologne (1989, for Le Cactus rieur et la demoiselle qui souffrait d'une soif insatiable). He later received the Prix Serge-Garant from the Fondation Émile-Nelligan in Montréal (1991) and four Prix Opus from the Conseil québécois de la musique in Montréal (Personnalité de l'année, 2000; Événement musical de l'année, 2001, for La Symphonie du millénaire [shared with 19 composers]; Directeur artistique de l'année and Événement musical de l'année, both 2004, both shared with Walter Boudreau, both for the biannual festival Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques). His music has been performed in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, the UK, and the USA.

As a conductor, he has often led the Ensemble XXe Siècle of the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and has served as music director of the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble since 1996. He has served as principal conductor of the biannual festival Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques since 2003.

He is also active in other positions. He played electric guitar in an amateur rock-band in Montréal in the late 1960s and toured Europe as a sound technician for Ensemble Köln in the 1980s. He served as programme director of the Association de Musique Actuelle de Québec in the late 1970s and as a member of the board of directors of the Kölner Gesellschaft für Neue Musik from 1990–93. He founded the ensemble Série B in Cologne in 1991. He served as composer-in-residence to the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec from 1992–95, to the Philharmonisches Orchester der Stadt Heidelberg in 1995–96 and to the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa from 2002–06. He has served on the artistic committee of the ensemble and organisation Société de musique contemporaine du Québec in Montréal since 1995. He founded the annual masterclass Rencontres de Musique Nouvelle at Domaine Forget in 1995 and has served as its co-artistic director with Lorraine Vaillancourt since 1995. He has served as co-artistic coordinator with Walter Boudreau of the biannual festival Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques since 2003.

He lectured on counterpoint, harmony and instrumentation at the Université Laval from 1978–80. He has taught as Professor of Composition at McGill University in Montréal since 1995. He has given guest lectures in Germany, Mexico, Russia, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA.

He lived primarily in Germany from 1980–91 and has lived in both Canada and Germany since 1991.


E-mail address:



Une Soirée Vian (meta-Kabarett), soprano, baritone, 2 clarinets (both + saxophone, Electronic Wind Instrument), trombone, double bass, electric piano, percussion, live electronics, 1990–91

Woyzeck (incidental music, play by Georg Büchner), orchestra, fixed media, 1993, revised 1994

Lulu (incidental music, play by Frank Wedekind), violin, piano, fixed media, 1995–96

Passacaglia without a Theme (ballet, choreography by Édouard Lock), 2000


Douze Tiroirs de demi-vérités pour alléger votre descente, piano, orchestra, 1981–82

Une Foire imaginée, 4 percussion, large orchestra (minimum 65 players), 1982, revised 2000–01

Le Cactus rieur et la demoiselle qui souffrait d'une soif insatiable, large orchestra (71/83 players), 1986

Entre chien et loup, oboe, orchestra (2 percussion, 29/46 strings), 1994

Pour parer la Parade!, orchestra, fixed media, 1994

Concerto for Orchestra (Variations without a theme), 1988–95

Passacaglia ohne Thema, 1995

Concerto, piano, large orchestra (68/80 players), 1995–97

Du Fouet et du Plaisir, piano, small orchestra (14 players), 1996–97

Le Sexe des anges, bass clarinet, orchestra, 2000

La Neige est blanche mais l'eau est noire, 2003

Tetrapharmakos (triple concerto), violin, cello, piano, large orchestra (72/84 players), 2003–04


Quintette à vent, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1976

Climats, flute, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, violin, cello, double bass, 4 percussion, 1978

Jeux de Société, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, piano (all + glockenspiel, maracas), 1979–80, revised 1981

Rituel lapidaire, en souvenance..., English horn, percussion, 1984

Comme un silène entr'ouvert, piccolo, oboe, bass clarinet, trombone, double bass, piano, synthesizer, fixed media (4 tracks), 1983–85

À le Baron perché?, 2 bass clarinets (2nd + clarinet), 2 contrabassoons, 2 French horns, trumpet, 2 trombones, 5-string double bass, 1985

A certain chinese cyclopaedia, flute, English horn, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1986

Trois Petits Simiodrames, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, percussion, 1990, revised 1999

Paysage Qu..., 2 clarinets (2nd + bass clarinet), 2 trumpets, 2 trombones (2nd + bass trombone), violin, viola, cello, double bass, 2 percussion, 1992

Dt. Landschaft, 2 clarinets (2nd + bass clarinet), 2 trumpets, 2 trombones (2nd + bass trombone), violin, viola, cello, double bass, 2 percussion, 1992–93

Des Caresses..., alto flute, violin, viola, cello, double bass, 1994

Appels-Rappels, 4 French horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, percussion, 1994–95

Qualia sui, violin, cello, piano, 2001

Rumore sui, string quartet, 2002–03

Tremore sui (sonata), violin, piano, 2004–05


Jappements à la lune (text by Claude Gauvreau), 32 mixed voices, orchestra, 1982, revised 2000–01

La Symphonie du millénaire, choruses, organ, carillon, 15 church bells (2000 bell ringers), 2 fire trucks, large orchestra (333 players), fixed media, 1999–2000 (collaboration with 19 composers)


Quatre Chants (texts by Émile Nelligan, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau, Alain Grandbois), soprano, cello, piano, 1974–75

Das Affenlied (text by Gottfried Benn), soprano, 1988

Manche haben Trompinetten (text by Boris Vian), soprano, bass clarinet, 1989–90

De Sophie à Léon (text by the composer, after Leo and Sofia Tolstoy), soprano, violin, large orchestra (70/82 players), 1993 (one section may be performed separately: Epilogue à Anna Karénine)


Neuf Résidus, 2 electric pianos (1 player), 1986–87

Contredanse du silène Badouny, 1998


Paraphrase en pente douce sur le Hareng Saur de Charles Cros (texts by Charles Cros, André Breton), fixed media, 1984

Pilu, wo bist du?, fixed media, 1985

Organum, fixed media, 1985 (collaboration with Christa Feuerberg)


Climats. Serge Garant/Ensemble de la Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (Radio Canada International: RCI-546) (LP)

Manche haben Trompinetten. Ingrid Schmithüsen, soprano; Michael Riessler, bass clarinet (Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik 1990, documentation CD)

Une Soirée Vian. Série B (col legno, 1997)

Jeux de Société; Comme un silène entr'ouvert; À le Baron perché? Kristi Becker, piano; Robert HP Platz/Ensemble Köln; Walter Boudreau/Ensemble de la Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (Société de Nouvelle Enregistrement: SNE 543, 1998)

Douze Tiroirs de demi-vérités pour alléger votre descente; A certain chinese cyclopaedia; Le Cactus rieur et la demoiselle qui souffrait d'une soif insatiable. Marc-André Hamelin, piano; Calamus Quintett; Gabriel Chmura/National Arts Centre Orchestra; Simon Streatfeild/Orchestre Symphonique de Québec (Société de Nouvelle Enregistrement: SNE 567, c. 1999)