Camille Couture

Camille Couture. Violinist, teacher, violin maker, (b Loretteville, near Quebec City, 23 Feb 1876, d Montreal 27 Jun 1961). He first studied violin for seven years with Jean Duquette in Montreal.

Couture, Camille

Camille Couture. Violinist, teacher, violin maker, (b Loretteville, near Quebec City, 23 Feb 1876, d Montreal 27 Jun 1961). He first studied violin for seven years with Jean Duquette in Montreal. In 1899 he went to Europe to continue his training and to study violin making, which particularly attracted him, perhaps because he was at once a violinist and the son of a sculptor. Studying at the Liège Cons with Jean Quintin and Ovide Musin, he also attended the school of the master luthier Emile Heynberg. Couture made his debut as a solo violinist in Chaud-Fontaine and gave several concerts in Liège. His shyness, however, made him prefer teaching to playing as a career. On his return to Canada it was as a teacher that he worked 1903-16 in Winnipeg, and thereafter in Montreal, where he taught privately, at the École Vincent-d'Indy and, from its inception, at the CMM. He also became an examiner for the AMQ and was a juror for the Prix d'Europe. His pupils included Gladys and Russell E. Chester in Winnipeg, and John Charuk, Georges Codling, Arthur Davison, Jean Deslauriers, Conrad Letendre, Lucien Martin, Roland Poisson, Ruth Pryce (Prix d'Europe, 1920), Marielle Provost, and Rhoda Simpson in Montreal.

Violin making was Couture's hobby, and he copied the instruments of such famous violinists as Jacques Thibaud (a Stradivarius), Adolfo Betti, Jan Kubelík, Max Rosen, and Eugène Ysaÿe. These artists all praised the high quality of Couture's work, and his talent was recognized at the Wembley Exposition in England, where he won bronze medals (1924, 1925), bearing the effigy of George V and an official scroll of appreciation. Couture used European and indigenous materials - maple-à-Giguère (Negundo, sometimes called Manitoba maple or box elder), beech, pine, and fir - carefully selected and treated with his own varnishes. He signed more than 200 violins, all of which were sold. These handmade Canadian instruments were admired by Kreisler and Thibaud; the latter wrote to Couture: 'I had the pleasure this morning of playing one of your recent violins and am delighted to re-affirm how well you have understood the art of violin making. The varnish is of great beauty and the resonance is extraordinary. Bravo and thank you!' (Montreal, 23 Feb 1921).

Writings

Camille Couture, 'La Mémoire,' Quinzaine musicale et artistique, vol 1, 25 Apr 1931


Further Reading

  • Tanguay, Yves. 'Chez Camille Couture, violoniste et luthier,' P-T, 883, Feb 1945