The case of Yves Beaupré definitely stands out of the ordinary. First, he earns his living as a harpsichord maker, not a common job by far. Second, he learned the art by himself. Third, working everyday on instruments many would consider passé, or at least hopelessly tied to traditions now centuries old, he developed a taste for sound research, eventually launching a career as a composer of electro-acoustic music at age 47, releasing his first album, Humeur de Facteur, in 2001.
Beaupré came to the harpsichord as a musician. He studied with Réjean Poirier at the Cégep St-Laurent and the Université de Montréal, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1980. He participated in master classes by Kenneth Gilbert, Colin Tilney, and Scott Ross, and performed with various chamber ensembles, mostly the Ensemble Sarabadand from 1979 to 1981, and the Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal, with which he toured Europe in the 1980s.
But soon the harpsichordist felt the need for a more hands-on approach to the instrument and saw an opportunity in the lack of North American makers. Starting in the late-'70s, he studied the history of the instrument and visited museums and European makers. A grant from the Arts Council of Canada in 1981 allowed him to go to England, Holland, Belgium, and France, where he closely studied various models he later adapted. Shortly after he established his workshop, he gradually abandoned public performance and devoted himself to making superior instruments that are now considered among the best available in the world.
Working so closely to the inner-workings of sound, Beaupré developed a fascination with electro-acoustic music. Around 1985, he built himself a home studio and since then collected samples and experimented, all in private. A project with Édouard Lock and his dance troupe, La La La Human Steps, gave him a chance to take his sound research out of his studio. The electro-acoustic cycle Humeur de Facteur, released by Empreintes DIGITALes in 2001, revealed a composer with a fresh, clearly unusual approach.