Composer, arranger and choirmaster

Father Arthur Goasdoué spent his entire life at Saint-Joseph College in Lannion. Organist and choirmaster, founder of the Manécanterie Saint Joseph, he has successfully worked on these beautiful and rich Breton melodies. His arrangements are out of the ordinary in the Breton song: all the voices sing. This priest musician could certainly have devoted himself to a promising career. But he chose to make children and young people sing, while remaining attached to his Breton roots. An artist to discover or rediscover…

Abbot Arthur Goasdoué was born in 1907 in Buhulien near Lannion (22). He followed in the footsteps of his uncle, Father Yves-Marie Goasdoué, who was, among other things, a music teacher at the Petit Séminaire de Tréguier, rector of Lanvellec, parish priest of Plestin and known for his talents as a musician, bard and poet.

After his secondary studies at the Saint-Joseph College in Lannion, he entered the Major Seminary. Ordained a priest in 1930, he first exercised his priestly ministry in Bégard (22).

In 1932, Arthur Goasdoué joined the Saint-Joseph College in Lannion, first as a music teacher but also as a teacher of a “French course”, which was a short cycle intended for students who wanted to go into the trade or agriculture.

Last but not least, he became the choirmaster of the choir. It already existed before 1932 and was directed by Father Humbert. It is under the impulse of the abbot Goasdoué that it becomes “manécanterie” and that it will know its hours of glory.
But Arthur Goasdoué stayed only seven years in Lannion. Indeed, in 1939 he was mobilized and taken prisoner until 1945. During these six years, he remained in contact with the college, and even gave his instructions by mail. It is during this period that he perfected his musical writing technique, being in constant contact with great musicians and composers (including Michel Sens, famous baritone) who recognized his skills. During these years, he had the opportunity to conduct small orchestras and vocal ensembles created for the occasion. In 1945, he returned to St. Joseph’s and was welcomed by “his” manecantry, which sang “Exultate Justi” by Viadana on the very day of his return.
Upon his return, Arthur Goasdoué took over the direction of the choir, as well as all activities related to it. He also worked with Abbé Le Bihan, a great specialist in Gregorian chant, who was organist of the manécanterie from 1941 to 1950.
From the 1950s, Father Goasdoué put into practice what he had learned during the war. It is from this period that the harmonization of the famous canticle to St Yves “Na n’eus ket e Breizh” dates, as well as the majority of the arrangements and compositions gathered in the collection that Jean-Marc Kernin dedicates to him. Fascinated by Breton music, Arthur Goasdoué has successfully studied all these hymns and popular melodies, so simple but of a real beauty, reflecting the Breton faith and piety. On his scores, he sometimes signed “Abarzur”, short for “mab Arzur”, “the son of Arthur”.

In 1963, Father Arthur Goasdoué left Saint-Joseph College in Lannion. From 1963 to 1966, he was chaplain to the nuns in Tréguier (22), then, in 1967, rector of Gomenec’h, and retired to Troguéry (22). He died there in 1968.
His funeral was celebrated in the church of Buhulien near Lannion. Buried during the school vacations, there is no choir present at the funeral mass…


Extract from Jean-Marc Kernin’s collection of scores “Arthur Goasdoué, Harmonisations / Compositions”. Reproduced with his kind permission.

To obtain this very complete collection of the works of A. Goasdoué, contact Jean-Marc Kernin: