Adélard-Joseph François-Arthur Boucher, publisher, importer, choirmaster, organist, conductor, writer, teacher, numismatist (born 28 June 1835 in Maskinongé, near Trois-Rivières, Lower Canada; died 16 November 1912 in Outremont, QC). Adélard-Joseph Boucher was a music publisher whose various companies, particularly A.-J. Boucher Co., published works by Québec’s most prominent early composers, including Calixa Lavallée, Alexis Contant, Ernest Gagnon and Eugène Lapierre, among many others. A.-J. Boucher Co. continued to publish the works of Canadian and foreign composers, as well as instrumental pieces, until it closed in 1975.
Though he began his studies in Montréal, Boucher was orphaned in 1845 and placed in the college at Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he stayed for six years. A teacher by the name of Henry Dielman introduced him to the organ, the piano, singing, the flute and the violin, and he showed obvious talent. In September 1851 Boucher’s foster father, Antoine LaRocque (his mother’s half-brother), sent him to the Sulpicians at the Séminaire d'Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris, to ensure he received a good religious education.
Boucher joined the Jesuits in Amiens, France, in March 1852, but returned to Canada the following August and became interested in business. Still attracted by the religious life, he spent six more months with the Jesuits before beginning law studies. He was employed in October 1853 by the Montréal and Bytown Railway, and became secretary-treasurer in 1854. He served as registrar for the Commission seigneuriale (1855–58), and as a broker for the Trust & Loan Company of Canada (1855–59). He thought of going into politics but was more interested in music, numismatics (coin collecting) and genealogy.
In 1861, in order to overcome the difficulty that existed in obtaining French music at that time, Boucher joined the Montréal publishing and importing house Laurent et Laforce as manager of the music division. The following year he bought a controlling interest in this company and, in association with Joseph-Amable Manseau, established a new business publishing sheet music. In 1863, with Manseau and Gustave Smith, Boucher founded a monthly magazine, Les Beaux-Arts, which lasted a year. In 1865, he founded the company bearing his own name, A.-J. Boucher, Co. In May 1867, he took over the vast stocks of Gould & Hill at 130 Grande Rue St-Jacques, while still maintaining his own establishment at 260 Rue Notre-Dame.
In 1868, in collaboration with Arthur Lavigne, he opened a store in Québec City. In 1878, he expanded his sheet music business to include instruments, entrusting that department first to René Hudon, who later married his oldest daughter, Philomène, and the following year to L.É.N. Pratte, who married his daughter, Cécile. In 1882, Boucher opened a store in Ottawa with his son, François.
In the course of four trips to Europe before 1890 and several trips to the United States, Boucher reached understandings with several publishers. La Maison Boucher published the works of numerous Canadian composers (Calixa Lavallée, Alexis Contant, C.W. Sabatier, Ernest Gagnon, Joseph-Julien Perrault, Jean-Baptiste Labelle, Albertine Morin-Labrecque, Alfred Mignault, Roméo Larivière, Eugène Lapierre and others), as well as works in the international repertoire, teaching pieces, and reprints of other Canadian publications which he took over. In 1866, he founded Le Canada Musical, which disappeared after a year, but was revived in May 1874 and continued until 1881 when, with Pratte, Boucher published Boucher & Pratte's Musical Journal (1881–82).
After Boucher’s death the firm was managed first by his oldest daughter, Philomène (Mme. René Hudon, later Mme. Deligny Boucher), then by her daughter, Mme. Joséphine Boucher-Ouimet, who died in April 1975. In May 1975 the firm, then located on Amherst Street, closed its doors after 113 years of service to musicians and to the public.
Career as a Musician
Despite his activities in business and journalism, Boucher also pursued an active career as a musician. He taught piano and voice at several institutions, including the Ste-Marie College and the Villa-Maria Convent. In 1853, he became the organist at St Patrick's Church and moved in 1858 to St-Pierre Church, where he founded and directed a renowned choir school. He also was organist (1860–63) and choirmaster (1865–68) at St-Jacques Church, then choirmaster at the Gesù Church, where he remained from 1868 to 1888, and at St-Jean-Baptiste Church in 1890.
Boucher championed sacred and secular music with equal vigour. He founded the Société Ste-Cécile in 1860, and later the Orphéon canadien and the Société Mozart. He conducted numerous works with orchestra, including Rossini's Stabat Mater (1860, 1868), Sabatier's Cantata (1862), David's Le Désert (1866), selections from Bellini's La Sonnambula and Balfe's The Bohemian Girl (1867), Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment (1867, 1882) and Gounod's Gallia (1879), as well as masses and other choral works. In December 1870, Boucher conducted a choir of 100 and an orchestra of 30 in a concert at St-Patrice Hall to commemorate the centenary of Beethoven's birth.
Boucher composed several works for piano, most of which were published before 1866, including: Coecilia, a mazurka caprice; Les Canotiers du St-Laurent, a “quadrille canadien;” Jolly Dogs Galop; and Souvenir de Sabatier, a suite of waltzes. Boucher's wife, Philomène Rousseau, whom he had married in 1854, was a soprano who often took solo roles in his concert presentations, notably as Amina in La Sonnambula. They had 15 children.
Boucher was also an enthusiastic coin collector. In 1862, he founded the Société de numismatique de Montréal, serving as its first president. His collection, which he sold in 1866, contained about 4,000 items.
A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.
See also: Joseph-Arthur Boucher, François Boucher (his sons).