Joseph Lyonnais

Joseph Lyonnais, (Bossu or Bossue, dit Lyonnais). Violin maker, instrumentalist, conductor, teacher, b Quebec City 28 Nov 1821, d there 6 Jan 1889. He learned the craft of violin making from his uncle, Pierre-Olivier, after 1835.

Lyonnais, Joseph

Joseph Lyonnais, (Bossu or Bossue, dit Lyonnais). Violin maker, instrumentalist, conductor, teacher, b Quebec City 28 Nov 1821, d there 6 Jan 1889. He learned the craft of violin making from his uncle, Pierre-Olivier, after 1835. In 1842 he opened his own workshop in Quebec City's St-Roch district, specializing in 'the manufacture of violins which he is not afraid to compare with the best imported,' in the repair of 'violins, clarinets, flutes, accordions, etc. etc.' (L'Artisan, 30 Aug 1844), and in the making of wooden characters for printing. He took over his uncle's workshop and in turn passed it on to his son Roch, who also had become a violin maker. In 1879 father and son put on display a trapezoidal violin made from a design by the French scientist Félix Savart but embodying 'improvements dictated by [Joseph Lyonnais'] great knowledge as a manufacturer' (Quebec City L'Événement, 28 May 1879).

Joseph was also a practising musician in Quebec City, having received lessons from Charles Sauvageau and David Parent. By 1836 he was playing the hunting-horn in the Musique canadienne conducted by Sauvageau and probably also playing violin in the Orchestre Sauvageau and the Orchestre canadien under Parent. He also played the violin, cello, and double-bass 1872-82 in the orchestra founded by Roch Lyonnais. He himself founded and directed a number of small ensembles, the most important of which was that of the Institut catholique. Among his pupils were Jean-Baptiste Labelle, Séraphin-D. Vachon, and Nazaire LeVasseur.

See also Léon II Lyonnais (his son) and Cyrill-e-Roch Lyonnais (his grandson).


Further Reading

  • Lyonnais, A.G. Généalogie de la famille Lyonnais (Ottawa 1901)

    LeVasseur, Nazaire. 'Musique et musiciens à Québec,' La Musique, vols 1, 2, 1919, 1920

    - Réminiscences d'Antan (Quebec City 1926)

    Massicotte, Édouard-Z. 'Violons et luthiers,' BRH, vol 41, Apr 1935

    Royer, Henri. 'Lutherie à Québec,' R Saint-Grégoire, Mar 1951

    - 'Mosaïque québécoise,' Cahiers d'histoire, 13, 1961

    Émond, Vivianne. '"Musique et musiciens à Québec: souvenirs d'un amateur" de Nazaire LeVasseur (1848-1927): étude critique,' M MUS thesis, Laval University 1986