The International Clarinet Association is saddened to learn of the passing of legendary French clarinetist Guy Deplus. Guy Deplus passed away this past week on January 14, 2020 at the age of 96.
As a student, Guy Deplus studied at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris (Paris Conservatory) and received the Premiers Prix in both clarinet and in chamber music. In the 1950s, Deplus worked with Pierre Boulez to found the Concerts du Domaine Musical. After performing with the Garde républicaine, Orchestre Colonne, and Opéra-Comique, Deplus became principal clarinet (Super Soliste) at the Orchestre de l’Opéra de Paris. He later taught clarinet and chamber music at the Paris Conservatoire and Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. Additionally, Deplus traveled and performed around the world as both soloist and chamber music, and he was a judge at several prestigious international music competitions.
Several composers created and dedicated works for Deplus, and Stravinsky described him as “an exceptional instrumentalist who has reached new musical and instrumental faculties” (Conversations with Igor Stravinsky: Robert Craft). Bruno Martinez also published a collection of interviews (in French) with Guy Deplus in the book L’ascèse et la flamme.
Throughout his life, Deplus has served as an immense musical and pedagogical inspiration to clarinetists from around the world. He was one of the hosts of the 1981 ClarinetFest in Paris at the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris, which was the first ClarinetFest (formerly called Congress) held outside of North America:
“After the Toronto Congress in 1978, the first Congress outside of North America was held in 1981 in Paris, France. Guy Deplus and the Paris Clarinet Quartet, especially Michel and Anne-Marie Gizard, were our hosts. Going through the Buffet factory was a special event for Congress attendees.” (You can read more about the ICA’s history here.)
In 1999, Guy Deplus became an Honorary Member of the International Clarinet Association. To honor his musical, pedagogical, and other clarinet endeavors throughout the international clarinet community, the ICA awarded Deplus a Lifetime Achievement Award for “Outstanding Performance, Teaching, Research, and Service to the Clarinet.”
Let us celebrate the life, legacy, and music of this legendary clarinetist.