Hetu was born in Montreal, Quebec. He studied in Paris with Marcel Ciampi (piano) and Edouard Lindenberg (conducting), and in 1961, following studies with Sergiu Celibidache, he won the Concours International des Jeunes Chefs d'Orchestre in Besançon. He subsequently studied under Charles Münch, Jean Martinon, and Hans Swarowsky.
Hétu made his Canadian debut in 1963, conducting the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and was appointed the orchestra’s Assistant Conductor under Zubin Mehta (1963–1968). He was Music Director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra in Michigan (1968–1972), Associate Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (1970–1973), and both Artistic Director (1973–1979) and Principal Guest Conductor (1979–1980) of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
Hétu unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the Canadian House of Commons in 1988. From 1991 to 1994, he taught conducting at the University of Toronto where he also conducted the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra. His final performances were in October 1998 conducting Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saëns in New Orleans.
Pierre Hétu died from cancer on December 3, 1998, in Montreal. Surviving him is his second wife, Michelle Rosich, and his two daughters from his first wife Carollyn Clark-Hétu: Gisèle Hétu and Lorraine (Hétu) Manifold ("Manifold Melodies".)
|Music Directors, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Rochon, Pierre; Nygaard King, Betty. "Pierre Hétu". Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.
Baker, D.T. "Edmonton Symphony History". Edmonton Symphony Orchestra website.