Dr. Jacques C. Després

Professor of Piano, University of Alberta


Pianist Jacques C. Després has been heard widely for more than four decades through his recordings, performances as a soloist with orchestras, solo recitals, and collaborative work. An intelligent, refined, highly sensitive and disciplined artist, Després’ performances and recordings are praised by critics who cite his “crystal-clear pianism,” and his abilities “to bring humanity, integrity and an enormous expressive range to the pieces.” His “pianistic control is flawless, the sonority magnificent, and the playing is utterly and consistently clear.”

Since his 1978 debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Després appeared as a soloist with many orchestras under the baton of conductors including Otto-Werner Muller, Franz-Paul Decker, Jens Nygaard, and Simon Streatfield. Després’ tours have included performances aired on CBC radio and at summer festivals in North American and Asia. Notable recordings include the world premiere of the complete piano works of Joseph Martin Kraus and the Kraus’ complete chamber music works on the Naxos label, which received widespread critical acclaim and exposure. A leading lecture-performance artist on both period and modern instruments, Després has been invited to numerous schools in North America and Asia, including the Juilliard School, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University, and the Central Conservatory of China (Beijing). He also was invited twice for the Daniel Ericourt Residency at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, NC. Other artists for this residency have included Lydia Artymiw, José Feghali, Jon Nakamatsu, Pascal Rogé, David Owen Norris and Daria Rabotkina.

Després holds a DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) from Stony Brook University, a Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music, a Unanimous First Prize from the Quebec Conservatory, and the Artist Diploma with High Distinction from Indiana University as a student of György Sebök. Other teachers include Adele Marcus, William Masselos, Gilbert Kalish, and Christiane Sénart. He has taught at Western Washington University in Bellingham from 1996 to 2000. He joined the Music Department of the University of Alberta in 2000 and has been a Professor of Music since 2005. In 2022, he was the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentorship from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta and in October 2023, he was inducted into the Steinway & Sons Teacher Hall of Fame in NYC.