Portrait

By Pierrette Germain





Excerpt from an article of the monthly review « L’éducation musicale », february 2002
Photo Philippe Beauvillain

Discrete, idealistic, reflective, ardent..., these terms may be appropriate to describe the personality of the composer Edith Lejet. They allow a good understanding of her thoughts, led by the need of finding her genuine expression, through a demanding inner research.
The awareness of her vocation prompts her to transmit her intuitions faithfully : « I am deeply convinced, she says, that the authentic works of art pre-exist, and are totally beyond the artist’s will ; the creator in art must remain humble, since his part consists in bringing to light some obscure forces, which are universal although they reflect a specific time and place.
Giving birth to a work of art requires a careful, voluntary and patient unveiling of these « obscure forces ». They appear through the urgent need of creating and burst into the impulse which gears up the composer towards the unwritten page.

How did Edith Lejet become a composer ?

At first the blank page was drawing paper, and thanks to the inducement of her school teacher of plastic arts, who introduced her to modernism, she had a great temptation to become a painter. However she was obviously more gifted for playing the piano. So she carried on her school education to get the Baccalauréat, and in order to respond to her father’s wish, she prepared herself for the profession which was the most adapted to her aptitudes : teaching music in lycées.
She passed the examination to enter the official teachertraining-center of Lycée La Fontaine, and the same year she was admitted as a student of Harmony and Aesthetics at the Paris Conservatory. It was there she attended later the course of Composition.
She got her degrees for teaching music, and taught for a few years. Meanwhile she was a laureate of the « Prix de Rome », of the « Casa de Velazquez », and in 1972, aged 31, she was appointed to a post of Professor of Theory at the Paris Conservatory.


Composition class of André Jolivet, 1968

What had she already composed ?

Several of her works had already been publicly performed at that time. One of them at the Festival of Aix-en-Provence, others by radio, such as « Monodrame » for violin and orchestra (1969) and « Le Journal d’Anne Frank » for female choirs and a small group of instrumentalists. In an intense musical thought the evolution of the tragedy is evoked, from childish unconcern to final peace.
Recorded in 1970 at Radio-France, it was recently given in a concert in Douai (March 2001), as arranged by the local Conservatory, with the participation of the local primary schools and lycées, and the regional choir.
The choice of dealing with this subject tallies with the intimate orientation she likes to give to her output, with a deep human message : « I find my genealogy, she says, where the music appeals to emotions. I feel rather strange to intellectual and speculative research. I put high value on spontaneity and intuition, which generate freshness ».


At Maurice Ravel's house at Montfort l'Amaury with Charles Chaynes
and Manuel Rosenthal.

What are her roots and affinities ?

She acknoledges a filiation which dates back to Debussy, whose modal scales « leading to unusual chords » attract her. While Debussy escapes from the so called functional harmony, and makes use of material which « induces him to question the main basic notions of rhythm and shape », she finds confirmation of her own truths.
She is very fond of the music of Ravel, the perfection of which she fully enjoys, and she speaks highly of Dutilleux and Ohana, who provided her with invaluable guidance and inspiration. The wonder and comfort she experienced in the contemplation of works of art -[music as well as architecture, sculpture, painting or literature]- shaped her faith in the high value of Art.
The uncompromising conviction that it must raise itself towards high ideals feeds her mind and helps her in the wish of playing a part to enrich the cultural heritage of our time.
These viewpoints and aims are clearly reflected in the style of her music, characterized by firmness, concision and an original application of musical rules in composition. Her mastery of counterpoint, her harmonic acuteness and her modal imagination found the specificity of her language. For each of her scores, the quality of colouring and the appropriateness of proportions may be listed among her main preoccupations.