August 8, 1938|
|Died||February 9, 2010
|Awards||Order of Canada
National Order of Quebec
Hétu was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec; he began his professional training at the University of Ottawa where he was a pupil of Jules Martel from 1955 to 1956. In 1956 he entered the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal and studied there for five years with Melvin Berman (oboe), Isabelle Delorme (harmony), Jean Papineau-Couture (fugue), Clermont Pépin (composition and counterpoint), and Georges Savaria (piano); he also studied at the Tanglewood Music Center during the summer of 1959 with Lukas Foss. In 1961 he won several important awards, including the first prize at the Quebec Music Festivals composition competition, a grant from the Canada Council, and the Prix d'Europe. The latter two awards enabled him to pursue studies in France at the École Normale de Musique de Paris from 1961 to 1963 with Henri Dutilleux and at the Paris Conservatory with Olivier Messiaen in 1962–1963.
Hétu joined the music faculty at Laval University in 1963, remaining there through 1977. He taught music composition at the University of Montreal in 1972–1973 and 1978–1979. From 1979 to 2000, he was a professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal, notably serving as the director of that school's Music Department from 1980 to 1982 and from 1986 to 1988.
He was nominated for a 1989 Juno Award in the Best Classical Composition category. In 1989, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2001 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
On March 3, 2010 the Toronto Symphony Orchestra premiered his Fifth Symphony under the baton of TSO music director Peter Oundjian. It is not known whether this commission – his Op. 81 – was his last completed work.