Jean-Baptiste Dubois

Jean-Baptiste (Alphonse) Dubois. Cellist, conductor, teacher, b Ghent, Belgium, 19 Jan 1870, d Montreal 4 Jul 1938; premier prix cello (Ghent Cons) 1890. He studied cello at the Ghent Cons with Jean-Baptiste Rappé and Jules de Swert.

Dubois, Jean-Baptiste

Jean-Baptiste (Alphonse) Dubois. Cellist, conductor, teacher, b Ghent, Belgium, 19 Jan 1870, d Montreal 4 Jul 1938; premier prix cello (Ghent Cons) 1890. He studied cello at the Ghent Cons with Jean-Baptiste Rappé and Jules de Swert. While still too young to be admitted to the senior class, he performed in the competition that determined entry and obtained an honourable mention. In Ghent he was a member 1883-4 of a variety orchestra and the municipal theatre orchestra and taught 1885-91 at the conservatory. At Ernest Lavigne's invitation, he moved to Montreal and was principal cello and assistant conductor 1891-4 of the Sohmer Park orchestra. He was principal cello 1893-6 with the Opéra français of Montreal, then spent a short time in Amsterdam before settling permanently in Canada in 1896.

Then began a period of intense activity during which Dubois was solo performer, chamber player, conductor, and teacher. He returned to Sohmer Park as assistant conductor and was principal cello of the Couture MSO in 1896 and of the Goulet MSO 1898-1910, appearing often with both as concerto soloist. He spent the 1903-4 season, however, as principal cello of the Cincinnati SO. He was a member 1896-8 of the Haydn Trio (with J.-J. Goulet, violin, and Émery Lavigne, piano) and was the cello 1905-6 of the Mendelssohn Trio, replacing Rosario Bourdon. In 1907 he formed the Beethoven Trio with Albert Chamberland and Maria Heynberg. He founded the Dubois String Quartet three years later and remained a member until it ceased to exist in 1938. He was conductor of the Montreal Amateur Orchestral Society 1904-5, the Association symphonique de Montréal, the Canadian Academy of Music in 1914, and the Symphonie Dubois 1916-17. Dubois had a long teaching career in Canada, beginning at the Collège de Montréal in 1896. He taught at the McGill Cons in 1904, the year it was founded, at the Conservatoire national after 1906, and at the Canadian Academy of Music in 1914. He was the founder, and the director 1893-1903, of the public solfège classes established by the province of Quebec. His many pupils included Rosario Bourdon, Hermann Courchesne, Suzette Forgues, Napoléon Dansereau, Roland Leduc, Brahm Sand, and his own son Jules (b Montreal 1902, d there 1977).

Dubois's few compositions include an Élégie for cello and piano (ca 1925, Édition Belgo-Canadienne). The recordings he made for HMV and Starr are listed in Roll Back the Years. He was the stepfather of Louis-Honoré and Rosario Bourdon. His son Jules was a member of various orchestras, taught cello and solfège, and eventually was put in charge of the public solfège classes his father had founded. Jules wrote Théorie élémentaire de musique (Montreal 1961)/ Elementary Music Treatise (Montreal 1962). His papers have been deposited at the BN du Q in Montreal.