Alphonse Lavallée-Smith

(Louis) Alphonse Lavallée-Smith. Organist, teacher, composer, b Berthierville, near Trois Rivières, Que, 17 Apr 1873, d Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, north of Montreal, 23 Jul 1912. He was the son of Dr Wenceslas Smith and Zénobie Lavallée (first cousin of Calixa Lavallée).

Lavallée-Smith, Alphonse

(Louis) Alphonse Lavallée-Smith. Organist, teacher, composer, b Berthierville, near Trois Rivières, Que, 17 Apr 1873, d Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, north of Montreal, 23 Jul 1912. He was the son of Dr Wenceslas Smith and Zénobie Lavallée (first cousin of Calixa Lavallée). When his family moved to St-Thomas-de-Pierreville he completed his academic education 1886-93 at the Nicolet Seminary and studied music with Octave Hardy (dit Chatillon).

Lavallée-Smith served three years as organist at the Nicolet Cathedral. He then settled in Montreal, where he studied with Romain-Octave Pelletier while making his living as a music salesman. He was assistant organist at St-Jacques Church before assuming the same position in 1896 at Notre-Dame Church. He left that year for Paris, however, where he studied with Théodore Dubois, Eugène Gigout, Alexandre Guilmant, and Charles-Marie Widor. On his return near the end of 1897, he became organist at St-Henri Church and teacher of piano and harmony at the Collège de Montréal.

The great accomplishment of Lavallée-Smith's short life was the Conservatoire national de musique, which he founded in Montreal in the fall of 1905 and directed until his death. Émile Gour, Germain Lefebvre, and J.-Élie Savaria were among his pupils.

Lavallée-Smith's compositions include the Cantate du Séminaire de Nicolet (1903, text by Louis-Honoré Fréchette), written to mark the centenary of the institution; another cantata, La Nativité; some religious music for soloists or choir; and some patriotic songs, art songs, and organ pieces. A few have been published by Archambault and in Le Passe-Temps. A Postlude for organ and two motets have been published in CMH (vols 4a and 9). His operetta in one act, Gisèle, was premiered 24 Oct 1924 at the Monument national by, among others, Caro Lamoureux (Gisèle), Paul Trépanier (Albert), and Lionel Daunais (the grandfather). The work was revived 19 May 1925 at the Salle Montcalm by Céline Marier's pupils, including Trépanier, Daunais, and Thérèse Lefebvre in the role of Gisèle. Excerpts of the operetta have been published in CMH, vol 10.

A Requiem Mass, dating from the last years of Lavallée-Smith's life, was rehearsed under his direction but was performed for the first time at his funeral at St-Henri Church. In August 1932 a concert of his works was presented on radio station CKAC in Montreal. Several of his manuscripts and published works have been deposited in the BN du Q (Inventory of the Jean Chatillon collection).