Philippe Tatartcheff

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Philippe Tatartcheff
Born Geneva, Switzerland
Origin Ontario, Canada
Occupation(s) Poet, songwriter

Philippe Tatartcheff (born in Geneva, Switzerland) is a Canadian poet and songwriter. He is best known as the lyricist who wrote French language songs recorded by folk duo Kate & Anna McGarrigle.[1]:229–238

Origins and early life[edit]

Tatartcheff's family was originally from the Swiss Cantons of Geneva, Vaud, Neuchatel and Fribourg.[citation needed] After moving to Montreal in the early 1950s, they eventually settled in Timmins, Ontario, where his father, Dr. Michael Tatartcheff, was a physician and surgeon, and the town doctor.[1]:229 His grandfather, Dr. Assen Tatartcheff, was a member of the Macedonian Liberation Front IMRE.[citation needed]

Tatartcheff attended a French collège classique in Timmins, then McGill University before leaving for Paris in early 1969, to study for a master's in French literature[1]:229–230 at the Sorbonne, where he presented a thesis on the subject of Jules Vallès.[2] While at McGill, he met Anna McGarrigle, who was studying at Beaux-Arts at the time (1964-1968).[1]:212,229–230


In 1974, after Tatartcheff's return to Montreal, Anna McGarrigle asked him to help her write a song, which became "Complainte pour Ste. Catherine", featured on the sisters' debut album, Kate & Anna McGarrigle[1]:233–234 As McGarrigle recalled many years later:

In late spring of 1973, [...] I wrote a song in French on the accordion about Henri Richard, the Montreal Canadiens's beloved captain, with Richard Baker, a young musician from BC. [...] The idea was to release it in time for the 1974 hockey playoffs, but we needed another French song for the B-side and I asked Philippe, now back in Montreal, to help me write something. The song we banged out was "Complainte pour Ste. Catherine." It took us all of twenty minutes. [...] Most people who heard "Complainte pour Ste. Catherine" liked it, and when Kate and I were signed to Warner Brothers a while later, our producer, Joe Boyd, wanted us to re-record it.

—Anna McGarrigle, Mountain City Girls by Anna & Jane McGarrigle.[1]:233–234

Tatartcheff would go on to contribute a total of twenty-four songs recorded by the McGarrigle sisters, most of them in French.

At some stage, he also became a farmer in Dunham, Quebec, according to the sleeve notes of the album The McGarrigle Hour.[2]

List of songs[edit]

with Anna McGarrigle
  • 1976 – "Complainte pour Ste. Catherine"[3][4]
  • 1977 – "Naufragée du Tendre"[5]
  • 1980 – "Mais quand tu danses"[6]
  • 1980 – "Excursion à Venise"[6]
  • 1980 – "Avant la guerre"[6]
  • 1980 – "À boire"[6]
  • 1990 – "Rainbow Ride"[7]
  • 1996 – "Arbre"[8]
  • 1998 – "Forever and the Same"[9]
with Kate McGarrigle
  • 1978 – "Side of Fries"[10]
  • 1980 – "Entre Lajeunesse et la sagesse"[6]
  • 1980 – "Cheminant à la ville"[6]
with both Kate and Anna McGarrigle
  • 1978 – "Prends ton manteau" (a.k.a. "Pronto Monto")[10]
  • 1979 – "La valse du maître draveur", performed by the Mountain City Four (Written by Wade Hemsworth & translated into French by Philippe Tatartcheff)[11]
  • 1996 – "Hang Out Your Heart"[8]
  • 2003 – "Petite annonce amoureuse"[12]
  • 2003 – "Ah tournesol"[12]
  • 2003 – "Hurle le vent"[12]
  • 2003 – "La Vache qui pleure"[12]
  • 2003 – "Rose blanche"[12]
  • 2003 – "Tant le monde"[12]
  • 2003 – "Ce matin"[12]
  • 2003 – "Dans le silence"[12]
solo (recorded by Kate and Anna McGarrigle)
  • 1990 – "DJ Serenade"[7]
  •  ???? – "Country Bar, Northern Star"[1]:229
  •  ???? – "Sans coeur et sans béquille"[1]:237


Tatartcheff has also uploaded some videos:[13]

  • "Approaching Montreal" (2011)[14]
  • "Cows in Snow" (2008)[15]
  • "Dogs in Snow" (2008)[16]
  • "Frelighsburg morning" (2008)[17]


Lanken, Dane (2007). Kate and Anna McGarrigle Songs and Stories. Canada: Penumbra Press. ISBN 18-9732-304-2. 

Lanken, Dane (2007). Thirty-three Kate and Anna McGarrigle Songs. Canada: Penumbra Press. ISBN 18-9732-305-0. 

McGarrigle, Anna & Jane (2015). Mountain City Girls. Canada: Penguin Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-81402-9. 


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h McGarrigle, Anna & Jane (2015). Mountain City Girls. Canada: Penguin Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-81402-9. 
  2. ^ a b "Forever And The Same". The McGarrigle Hour (at August 1998. Retrieved 4 February 2016. A longtime collaborator, Philippe contributed many lyrics in French and English to various Kate and Anna projects. Still, it's a long way from Jules Vallès, the subject of his U. of Paris Master's thesis, to keeping those cows milked in Dunham, Quebec. 
  3. ^ (French) Complainte pour Ste-Catherine, full text: (French) Texte des paroles de la Complainte pour Ste-Catherine, de Philippe Tatartcheff — tel que paru sur l'album Entre Lajeunesse et la sagesse – The French Record" (1981).
  4. ^ Sleeve notes from Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Warner Brothers K 56218, 1976.
  5. ^ Sleeve notes from Dancer with Bruised Knees, Warner Brothers K 56356, 1977.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Sleeve notes from french record, Hannibal Records HNBL 1302, 1980.
  7. ^ a b Sleeve notes from Heartbeats Accelerating, Private Music 261 142, 1990.
  8. ^ a b Sleeve notes from Matapedia, Hannibal Records HNCD 1394, 1996.
  9. ^ Sleeve notes from The McGarrigle Hour, Hannibal Records HNCD 1417, 1998.
  10. ^ a b Sleeve notes from Pronto Monto, Warner Brothers K 56561, 1978.
  11. ^ Canada vignettes (1978). "La valse du maître draveur". Channel ONF @ National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Sleeve notes from La vache qui pleure, Munich Records MRCD 260, 2003.
  13. ^ "Philippe Tatartcheff on Vimeo". Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  14. ^ "Approaching Montreal". 6 September 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  15. ^ "Cows in Snow". 22 July 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  16. ^ "Dogs in Snow". 29 November 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  17. ^ "Frelighsburg morning". 26 August 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2016.