Thursday, 14 August 2014

In memoriam JACQUES LASRY (www.andtheconductoris.eu)

On March 26th, 2014, in Jerusalem (Israel), French composer and multi-instrumentalist Jacques Lasry passed away, aged 96.

An extensive biography of Jacques Lasry, based on an interview by www.andtheconductoris.eu in December 2011, can be found following this link: http://www.andtheconductoris.eu/index.htm?http://www.eurovisionartists.nl/conductor/dir020.asp?ID=173

Synopsis

Jacques Lasry was born into a French-Jewish family in Alger (then French Algeria), 1918. Discovering music on his uncle's Boisselot piano, he followed piano lessons and studied chamber music, before entering the Alger Conservatory (piano studies: 1932-'36). As his ambition was to be a concert pianist, he decided to move to Paris to continue his studies at the Ecole Normale de Musique. It was there that he met his fellow student and future wife Yvonne. Meanwhile, Lasry also studied the piano privately with the renowned Marguerite Long.

The Second World War heralded a watershed in Lasry's career. Forced to abandon his studies and France, he escaped the German invasion by fleeing back to Algeria. Upon his return to Paris in 1945, he started earning his money as a piano accompanist. After a tour which took Jacques and Yvonne to Denmark and Sweden, Jacques became the pianist of the Milord d'Arsouille, Paris' famous cabaret littéraire. Here he accompanied the likes of Michèle Arnaud and Serge Gainsbourg, whilst also impressing the cabaret's guests with his improvisations. Charlie Chaplin wanted him to become his accompanist, but Lasry turned down this offer. 

In the 1950s, Lasry occasionally worked as a studio arranger, mainly for the artists with which he worked in the Milord d'Arsouille. When Michèle Arnaud was selected to represent Luxembourg in the very first Eurovision Song Contest (Lugano, 1956), Jacques Lasry accompanied her as an arranger and conductor of the two titles with which she participated, 'Ne crois pas' and 'Les amants de minuit'.

In the late 1950s, Lasry and his friend François Baschet invented the Cristal, a metal construction which produces sound from oscillating glass cilinders. With Yvonne Lasry and Bernard Baschet, they formed the quartet Les Structures Sonores Lasry-Baschet, which toured in Europe and even performed in the Ed Sullivan Show in New York, recording several albums, most prominently 'Chronophagie' (1954), which was re-released internationally as 'The Time Eaters' in 1960. Lasry composed his own music for the Cristal, whilst also re-arranging classical pieces for this particular instrument.

In the 1960s, Lasry was regularly commissioned to write film soundtracks, such as 'Le roi du village' (1963). In 1968, he converted to orthodox judaism, abandoning all of his professional activities. Jacques and Yvonne moved to Israel in 1978 to settle down in Jerusalem.

Much more about Jacques Lasry's career and Eurovision memories, as well as interesting photo and video material, can be found at http://www.andtheconductoris.eu/index.htm?http://www.eurovisionartists.nl/conductor/dir020.asp?ID=173