Septuor Haydn

Septuor Haydn. Founded in Quebec City in 1871 by Arthur Lavigne (first violin), Nazaire LeVasseur (second violin), Alfred Paré (viola), Narcisse Hamel (cello), Édouard Gauvreau (contrabass), Octave Chavigny de Lachevrotière or Cyrille Duquet (flute), and J.-A. Defoy (piano).

Septuor Haydn

Septuor Haydn. Founded in Quebec City in 1871 by Arthur Lavigne (first violin), Nazaire LeVasseur (second violin), Alfred Paré (viola), Narcisse Hamel (cello), Édouard Gauvreau (contrabass), Octave Chavigny de Lachevrotière or Cyrille Duquet (flute), and J.-A. Defoy (piano). Through at least one of its members the group was associated with the recently dissolved Septett Club founded in 1857 by Alfred Paré and some musicians from the Quebec Harmonic Society. An 'unfortunate misunderstanding' between the Septett Club members William Campbell (cello) and Paré appears to have led Paré to found the Septuor instrumental Haydn. At the first meeting, 21 Aug 1871, Ernest Gagnon and Édouard Glackemeyer were elected music director and honorary president respectively. The septuor made its official debut 25 Aug 1871 in Haydn's Symphony No. 73, 'The Hunt' (it is not specified whether the work was played in its entirety), and the overture to Rossini's Cenerentola. The occasion was the conferring of the AMQ diplomas in the hall of the École nationale, on the rue d'Auteuil. The group performed some 10 overtures and various other pieces during its first year.

Alone or with the participation of the Union musicale, the Société musicale Sainte-Cécile, and the Quatuor vocal de Québec, the group took an active part in Quebec City's musical life. LeVasseur, in his Réminiscences d'antan, wrote: 'In the hall adjoining the gas inspection offices, the Septuor Hayden [sic] annually for many years gave series of brilliant soirées with an orchestra and singing. The governors-general, when in town, the lieutenant-governors and their retinues, and the cream of the city's society were invited and were eager to attend.' Six of the septuor's members took part in the World Peace Jubilee in Boston in 1872, and in addition the group presented 17 concerts that year. In 1873 it gave 16 concerts and went on a two-month tour with the violinist Frantz Jehin-Prume.

In 1874 the ensemble leased a hall in the Masonic Building in order to present monthly concerts there and organized a performance of Félicien David's symphonic ode Christophe Colomb on the occasion of the bicentennial of the archdiocese of Quebec City. In December 1888 the augmented ensemble gave some concerts in the Basilica, including one for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (the players on that occasion being Defoy, Gauvreau, LeVasseur, and Paré, along with 'Messrs. Courchênes, Dorval, Dufresne, Leclerc and Prince'). The ensemble was invited by Gustave Gagnon to participate in a rehearsal of a Gounod mass for the coming Christmas celebrations. The Morning Chronicle made special mention of the septuor's presence at a concert of 22 Apr 1889 at the Académie de musique.

The date of the Septuor Haydn's demise cannot be determined. In all likelihood it did not die but merged with the Société symphonique de Québec (Quebec Symphony Orchestra), formed in February 1903. In the orchestra's ranks appear the names of J.-A. Gilbert, LeVasseur, and Lavigne - all sometime members of the Septuor Haydn. The septuor's library, one of the largest in Canada of the time, included 25 quintets by Félicien David, several series of orchestral and chamber works donated to the ensemble by Édouard Glackemeyer, and many other works. The material has been deposited at Laval University.


Further Reading

  • Un amateur. 'Le Septuor Haydn de Québec,' Canada musical, 1 Jul 1875

    LeVasseur, Nazaire. Réminiscences d'antan (Quebec City 1926)

    Paulhus, J.-P. 'Le Septuor instrumental Haydn de Québec,' manuscript (Laval University 1971)