Paul Letondal. Pianist, organist, cellist, teacher, composer, b Montbenoît, near Besançon, France, 25 Jan 1831, d Montreal 24 Jul 1894. Having lost his sight in early childhood, he received his training at the Institut des jeunes aveugles in Paris, studying piano with Kalkbrenner or one of his disciples. He moved to Montreal in 1852 and, at the request of the Jesuits, taught at the Collège Ste-Marie and was organist 1852-69 at the Gesù Chapel. The 'inimitable blind cellist' performed 27 Dec 1854 Franchomme's Souvenir de Norma and Fantaisie brillante sur des thèmes russes et écossais in the Bonsecours Hall, along with a Grande fantaisie concertante sur les airs nationaux, la Canadienne, God Save the Queen et St. Patrick's Day by an anonymous composer (perhaps Letondal himself). At the piano he performed his own 'grande fantaisie,' Souvenir de France, and accompanied his pupil Denise Rapin, a 12-year-old 'Canadian prima donna.' Evidently he was involved in business as well, since Letondal and Co are advertised as importers of French pianos in La Minerve of January 1855.
Letondal had some noteworthy pupils, eg, Édouard Clarke, Euphémie Coderre, Dominique Ducharme, Joseph-A. Fowler, Gustave Gagnon, Calixa Lavallée, Clarence Lucas, Salomon Mazurette, Charles-Marie Panneton, Marie Regnault, Moïse and Joseph Saucier, Marguerite Sym, Eugénie Tessier, and Antoinette Wilscam. He was a founding member and president 1882-3 and 1888-9 of the AMQ, and also a founding member and director of La Revue canadienne. In 1876 he began to collaborate with Rosalie Euvrard in organizing the teaching of music at the Institut Nazareth. A cultivated man and an outstanding musician, Letondal must be considered one of the pioneers of the profession of music in Canada. In 1860 he married Élisabeth Gagnon, sister of Ernest and Gustave Gagnon.
See also The blind.