Best viewed in
Internet Explorer

Music (PDF)

Music (BMW)

Back to

Updated 05/02/2013


Lament for Jef Ar Penven
Polig Monjarret

The tune is listed as both Lament for Jef Ar Penven  and Lament for Lef Le PenvenJef Le Penven (3 November 1919 - 30 April 1967) was a French composer, born in Pontivy, Morbihan, Brittany.  Le Penven was the twelfth child of a family of cabinet makers. He was brought up in an atmosphere of traditional vernacular music, learning to play the bombard (Breton flute) as a child. He studied at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, working with Marcel Dupré. 

In 1940, he became the conductor or the Orchestre de Bretagne.  Le Penven's music expresses his attachment to Brittany and Celtic culture. He attempts to integrate traditional and symphonic music. His major works use conventional symphonic and choral forms but typically include bagpipe music.

The composer and folklorist, Polig Monjarret (1920 - 2003), led the introduction of the GHB to Brittany during the Celtic revival of the 1920s Breton folk music scene.  Though unknown to most Highland pipers, Monjarret is directly responsible for saving Breton pipe music and for establishing the Breton "bagad" pipe band concept in the 1940s  A bagad pipe band incorporates a biniou braz section, a bombarde section, a drums section, and in recent years almost any added grouping of wind instruments.  Well know bagad groups include Bagad Brieg, Bagad Kemper, and Bagad Cap Caval.  In Britanny, the GHB is known as the biniou braz, in contrast to the biniou kozh, the small traditional Breton bagpipe.

Monjarret collected over 3,000 traditional compositions during the occupation of France from 1940-'45. At that time, Breton pipe music was on the verge of extinction. It was Monjarret who realized that, if the music was to survive, it would have to adopt elements of the Scottish-style pipe band. Monjarret's solution was the "bagad," a unique ensemble of Highland pipes, pipe band drums and Breton bombardes. He was a founder of the Breton Pipe Band Association (BAS), which today is directly responsible for training generations of bagad band members, and traditional pipers playing in the "sonneurs de couple" duo format. Monjarret published a collection of music, and a second volume was unveiled in the summer of 2003 at the Interceltic Music Festival in Lorient. Hundreds attended Monjarret's funeral, where the famous Breton piper Patrick Molard played the Uillean pipes – an instrument Monjarret loved. His casket was placed in the town square of Larmor Plage, where massed pipers played "An Hini Garan," Monjarret's favorite Breton air.

Brittany, in western France, is an ancient Celtic homeland whose language and music are closely related to those of Wales and Cornwall.  Breton music is subtle when compared to Irish, Scottish, and Welsh music, with complex rhythms, rich harmonies, and spin-on-a-dime call-and-response refrains. The venerable Irish sextet seems refreshed and exhilarated by the cross-pollination.