The Sad Life of Laure Beauséjour

2014 – for period instruments – 2 violins, viola da gamba, harpsichord – 12:00

Sheet Music
Violin I
Violin II
Viola da Gamba


World Premiere: April 12, 2014
Elixir Baroque Ensemble:
Elyssa Lefurgey-Smith (violin)
Valerie Gordon (violin)
Justin Haynes (viola da gamba)
Sara-Anne Churchill (harpsichord)

  1. The Sad Life of Laure Beauséjour: I. Taken Away From Parents Elixir Baroque Ensemble Buy or Stream 04:12
  2. The Sad Life of Laure Beauséjour: II. Life in the Salpêtrière Elixir Baroque Ensemble Buy or Stream 01:59
  3. The Sad Life of Laure Beauséjour: III. Boat to the New World Elixir Baroque Ensemble Buy or Stream 03:24
  4. The Sad Life of Laure Beauséjour: IV. First Winter in New France...Alone Elixir Baroque Ensemble Buy or Stream 04:33


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Album: Project Dovetail
Date: October 22, 2021

Musician(s): Elixir Baroque Ensemble – Sara-Anne Churchill (harpsichord), Felix Deak (viola da gamba), Valerie Gordon (violin), Michelle Odorico (violin)
Producer: Frank Horvat
Location: Canterbury Music, Toronto
Label: Centrediscs

Project Dovetail album - composed by Frank Horvat

Programme Notes

The 4 movements of this composition are inspired by various chapters in the life of Laure Beauséjour, the protagonist in the novel, Bride of New France, by Canadian author, Suzanne Desrochers. The many and various hardships that Laure faced throughout her life stuck with me long after I finished reading this epic book. I felt compelled to transfer many of these emotions into music.

Musical Treatment:
As this novel is set in 1670s France and New France, it seemed like a natural fit to utilize period instruments for the orchestration. My goal was to musically express the hardship and sadness faced in 4 different chapters of Laure’s life. While different subtle compositional techniques are used to differentiate the 4 movements, I purposely made all 4 movements quite similar to each other, specifically utilizing the same key (G minor), a slow tempo and a distinct sad melodic theme with simple, ambient accompaniment for each. I have always appreciated suites or sets of compositions that stay at the same pace and tone going from piece to piece, especially in Satie’s Gymnopédies or Gnossiennes collections.

4 movements:

1. Taken Away from Parents: Direct and militaristic in tone with melancholy melody. Melody: Violin 1. Duration: 3:40.

2. Life in the Salpêtrière: Uses an existing Gregorian Chant melody (Puer natus est nobis – A child is born to us). The text is a reverence to the Baby Jesus. This is a paradox to the harsh upbringing that Laure experienced at the Salpêtrière. Melody: Viola da Gamba. Duration: 1:45.

3. Boat to the New World: Inspired by the Barcarolle rhythm/waves of water against the boat. Melody: Harpsichord. Duration: 2:40.

4. First Winter in New France…Alone: The 2nd violin’s constant tremolo emulates Laure’s shivering. Melody: Violin 2. Duration: 3:50.

– Frank Horvat

Commissioned by the Elixir Baroque Ensemble.


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