Era Inducted To: Radio Era
Radio-Canada used an existing work, Le réveil de la nature, as the theme song for “Le réveil rural”, one of the first programs to be devoted to agriculture, for three decades. Le réveil de la nature was composed by Oscar O’Brien based on a poem by Alfred DesRochers.
Alfred DesRochers became interested in writing and the power of words during his secondary education with the Franciscan Fathers in Trois-Rivières. He was a contributor to the Sherbrooke newspaper La Tribune from 1925 to 1952 with a few interruptions. In 1927, he founded L’Étoile de l’Est, a weekly magazine of which he remained the editor until 1928, the year he published his first book of poetry. After a stint as a translator in Ottawa and as Secretary of the National Liberal Federation in 1945, he returned to La Tribune from 1946 to 1952. After working again as a translator in 1953, this time for The Canadian Press, he retired in 1964. Alfred DesRochers received the Governor General’s Award in 1931 and the Athanase David Award in 1932 for his book of poetry À l’ombre de l’Orford. In 1964, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society presented him with the Duvernay Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a poet. In October 1976, he received an honorary degree from the University of Sherbrooke. Often referred to as a “poet of the land” for his portrayals of everyday rural life, DesRochers’ poetry describes the occupations of his time in the plain language of the period—hunting, harvesting, communal farm working, land clearing and field ploughing. In 1978, the Association des auteurs(es) des Cantons de l’Est created the Alfred DesRochers Award, presented each fall as part of the Eastern Township book fair. Alfred DesRochers is the father of the stand-up comedian, actor, singer-songwriter, television host and visual artist Clémence DesRochers.
At the age of 16, the organist and pianist Oscar O’Brien became a substitute for his master at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal. In 1915, he embarked on a collaboration with folk artist Charles Marchand as an accompanying pianist and arranger. He also worked in Montreal as a teacher, an orchestra pianist and a back-up musician. Under Marchand’s influence, folklore-inspired music was to remain at the core of his musical career. For 15 years (1930-1945), O’Brien was artistic director of Quatuor Alouette, for which he wrote many harmonizations. In 1945, he entered the Benedictine Monastery in Saint-Benoîtdu-Lac, Quebec, where he was ordained as a priest in 1952, assuming the name of Dom Oscar O’Brien.
The duration of the original version of Le réveil de la nature used in Radio-Canada broadcasts was 2 min. 54 sec.
COVER ARTISTS INCLUDE: Jules Jacob and the La Bonne Chanson choir.