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French composer, teacher and writer Yvonne Desportes was born in Coburg, Germany on 18 July 1907. Her father was a composer and her mother a painter. She studied in Paris at the École Normale de Musique and then at the Conservatoire National Supérieur. Her teachers included Alfred Cortot, Paul Dukas, Marcel Dupré, Maurice Emmanuel and Yvonne Lefébure.
She won a series of prizes for her music, which displays several examples of her sense of humour. In addition to her over five hundred compositions, embracing opera, ballets, symphonic music, concertos, chamber, vocal and solo instrumental music, she had a teaching career, becoming a professor of solfège and then a professor of counterpoint and fugue, and also brought up three children. As part of her teaching work, she also, famously, composed a set of Leçons de solfège.
She wrote several works for her eldest son, percussionist Vincent Gemignani, including a concerto for percussion and orchestra, becoming one of the first composers to write a percussion concerto. She also wrote for the sound-sculpture instrument that this same percussionist son invented: la bronte.
Yvonne Desportes retired from teaching in 1978 and died in Paris on 29 December 1993, aged eighty-six.