Lapierre obtained a Quebec government grant to study 1924-8 in Paris and enrolled at the Institut grégorien of Paris (certificate, 1926) and at the Schola cantorum (diploma, 1928). He studied composition with Vincent d'Indy and Georges Caussade, organ and improvisation with Marcel Dupré, and piano with Simone Plé-Caussade and P. Sylva Hérard. He visited the Benedictine abbey at Solesmes to improve his knowledge of Gregorian chant. In 1927 he had been appointed the incoming director of the Cons national in Montreal. He took the opportunity during his final year in France to acquaint himself with the workings of the Paris Cons. Upon his return to Canada he reorganized the Montreal conservatory; he was to remain its director until his death. His pupils included Gaston Allaire, Émilien Allard, Françoise Aubut, Albertine Caron-Legris, Alfred Mignault, and Colombe Pelletier. The University of Montreal awarded him its first regular doctorate in music in 1930.
Lapierre's growing reputation as a teacher of Gregorian accompaniment brought him invitations from other countries, and he gave courses in 1935 at the Liturgical School of Music in Burlington, Vt, 1945-ca 1968 at the Gregorian Institute of America in Toledo, O, and in the autumn of 1955 at the Cultural Institute of Lisbon. He was also director 1963-70 of the Academy of Musical Arts of the Detroit Seminary.
Lapierre's activities were indeed many: lecturer in 1937 at the Congrès de la langue française in Quebec City; Quebec delegate in 1946 at the Music Educators National Conference in Cleveland, O; delegate in 1949 to a congress for sacred music in Mexico City; president of the Concerts d'orgue du Québec; vice-president 1958-64 of CAPAC; vice-president 1962?-9 and president 1969-70 of the Société historique de Montréal; member of the Interdiocesan Commission for Sacred Music and of the Quebec Commission for the Advancement of Music, and so on. He also gave more than 60 recitals and inaugural organ concerts across North America.
Lapierre published numerous works in Montreal: Le Rôle social de la musique (1930), Les Vedettes de la musique canadienne (1931), La Musique au sanctuaire (1932), and Pourquoi la musique? (1933). He instigated the transfer in 1933 of Calixa Lavallée's body from Boston to Montreal and published Calixa Lavallée, musicien national du Canada (1936, 1950, 1966), an important biography which, in 1937, earned him the Prix David for literature from the Quebec government. Un Style canadien de musique (Quebec City 1942) and Le Mouvement musical dans le Québec (1948) were among his subsequent writings. He was editor of La Quinzaine musicale and wrote articles and reviews for other periodicals and newspapers (Montreal Le Devoir 1948-51, L'Action nationale, Radiomonde, Notre Temps) and the article 'Canada: musique' for the Encyclopédie Grolier (Montreal 1947).
Lapierre composed numerous pieces for organ, piano, choir, and voice, notably masses, motets ('Ave Admirabilis' 1948, 'Qui ad justitiam' 1950, etc), and songs. Some of these were published by Archambault, Boucher, Fassio (Lachute), Hérelle (Paris), Gordon V. Thompson, La Bonne Chanson, and Le Parnasse musical.
Lapierre's principal compositions include Le Père des amours (1942), a comic opera based on the life of Joseph Quesnel and premiered in December 1942 at the Monument national as part of the Montreal tricentennial celebrations; the musical comedy Le Vagabond de la gloire (book by Aimé Plamondon, based on the life of Lavallée) premiered in Montreal in 1947; the cantata Les Clochers canadiens; and Cantique à Saint Jean de Dieu (Boucher 1935). He also wrote Le Traversier de Boston, a dramatic comedy inspired by Lavallée's exile and performed in Montreal in 1933.
Lapierre prepared a new version (Boucher 1945) of Joseph-Julien Perrault's Messe de Noël and published the treatises Simplified Modal Accompaniment to the Vatican Kyriale and the Requiem Mass (Toledo 1946), Traité sommaire d'accompagnement grégorien (Montreal 1949), Gregorian Chant Accompaniment (Toledo 1949), and 80 Cantiques à Sainte Anne (1958, English transl 1959). With Émilien Allard, he recorded 12 Christmas carols.
Lapierre's achievements were recognized officially when he was awarded the Jubilee and Coronation medals in 1935 and 1937 by George V and George VI respectively and the Bene Merenti de Patria medal by the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society in Montreal. In 1963 he was named Chevalier of the Order of Malta in Toledo, O. In 1979 the Place Eugène-Lapierre adjacent to PDA was named after him. Yves Lapierre is his grandnephew.
Author Cécile Huot
Creative Canada, vol 2