Jacques Hétu (1938-2010) was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. He learned piano as a youth and then, in 1955, went to study music for at the University of Ottawa. He went on to study at the prestigious Montreal Conservatory, where won the school's premier prix in composition in 1961. After graduating from the Conservatory, Hétu was awarded a scholarship to continue his studies in Paris.
One of Canada’s most esteemed and frequently performed composers, Hétu’s catalogue includes some 70 works, including symphonies, opera, choral and chamber music, and concertos for numerous instruments.
Hétu's career gained momentum with Glenn Gould’s recording of his Variations, Opus 8 for piano in 1967. In 1976, Hétu’s Fantasy, Opus 21 for piano and orchestra was the set Canadian piece at the Montreal International Music Competition. His Symphony No. 3 - judged by Eric McLean as “one of the most worthwhile creations of a Canadian composer in more than a decade” (Montreal Star, 26 Oct 1977) - appeared on the program of the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s European tour in 1990.
Jacques Hétu garnered many honours, winning SOCAN’s Jan V. Matejcek prize seven times, as well as both a Western Music Award and a Juno for the 2004 recording of Jacques Hétu: Concertos. In 1989 he was made a member of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2001 he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Jacques Hétu taught 1963-77 at Laval University, giving classes in music literature and analysis, introducing an orchestration course, and establishing a composition class. Hétu also taught composition 1972-73 and 1978-79 at the University of Montreal and taught at the Université du Québec à Montréal 1979-2000, where he was director of the Music Department 1980-82 and 1986-88.