Formed: 1973, Montreal
Years Active: 1974-1980
– Serge Fiori (guitar, flute, zither harp, bass drum, vocals)
– Michel Normandeau (guitar, accordion, vocals)
– Louis Valois (bass guitar, electric piano, vocals)
– Pierre Daigneault (flute, piccolo, soprano sax, clarinet)
– Serge Locat (piano, mellotron, synthesizer)
– Monique Fauteux (vocals, keyboards)
– Robert Stanley (guitar)
– Denis Farmer (drums)
– Libert Subirana (horns)
Genre: Progressive Rock
– “Pour un Instant” / “100 000 Raisons ” (1974)
– “Un Musicien Parmi Tant d’Autres” (1974)
– “Dixie” / “En pleine face” (1975)
– “Comme un fou” (1976)
– “Comme un sage” (1976)
Although Harmonium released only three original studio albums in their brief recording career, its impact on Quebec rock and culture is immeasurable. The band was so talented that all three of their studio albums were named among the 100 greatest Canadian in history by Bob Mersereau in his controversial book The Top 100 Canadian Albums. Besides Jean-Pierre Ferland’s Jaune, these three were the only francophone albums from Quebec named in the list.
Serge Fiori, who was serving as a ballroom guitarist with his father’s orchestra (popular among Montreal’s Italian community) met dramatic actor and musician Michel Normandeau at a music theatre performance in 1972. Bassist Louis Valois joined them the following year and they became Harmonium beginning as a folk trio. Performances in cafés led to a live radio performance and soon a record deal was struck.
The band released its debut album (self-titled) in 1974 which became a big seller with the hit songs “Pour un Instant” and “Un Musicien Parmi Tant d’Autres”. They recruited a couple of new members to enhance their sound and shifted into mellow progressive rock in their sophomore effort in 1975, Si on avait besoin d’une cinquième saison (also known as The Five Seasons). Both albums went platinum in Quebec.
Harmonium’s third and final studio album, released in 1976, was recorded in Fiori’s home and titled L’Heptade. The metaphysical themes surround seven stages of consciousness in daily life. Recruiting yet more musicians, including members of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, to arrange orchestral bridges between the songs, the end-result was that the double-album, in the words of critic François Couture, “achieved a new standard of excellence in Quebec rock and became a minor classic in the history of progressive rock”.
The group toured the country all the way to Vancouver. A live album of the concert was later released (En Tournée). They also performed in California, resulting in The National Film Board of Canada’s production Harmonium en Californie. In Europe, Harmonium had the honour of opening for Supertramp. They returned to Canada to a sold out show at Toronto’s Massey Hall. They toured Europe in 1979 with James Taylor.
In 1980, Harmonium announced that they were disbanding for the mature reason that they simply felt that had created all the best music they possibly could.