Joseph-Antonio Thompson

Joseph-Antonio (Antoine) Thompson. Organist, composer, choir conductor, bandmaster, teacher, b Montreal 22 Nov 1896, d Trois-Rivières, Que, 8 Mar 1974; lauréat organ (Laval) 1923, D MUS (Montreal) 1950.

Thompson, Joseph-Antonio

Joseph-Antonio (Antoine) Thompson. Organist, composer, choir conductor, bandmaster, teacher, b Montreal 22 Nov 1896, d Trois-Rivières, Que, 8 Mar 1974; lauréat organ (Laval) 1923, D MUS (Montreal) 1950. He studied music in Montreal with Jean-Noël Charbonneau and Élie Savaria (piano), and in Quebec City with J.-Arthur Bernier (organ). He occasionally replaced Bernier on the organ at St-Jean-Baptiste Church. In 1916, at the age of 20, he was appointed organist of Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Allégresses Church in Trois-Rivières, and from then until his death he played a leading role in that city's musical development. In 1920 he directed the music for the Compagnons de Notre-Dame, a theatre company he helped found. He taught piano and organ at the seminary, the Académie de la Salle, and the Collège séraphique. Among his pupils were Émilien Allard, Gabriel Charpentier, Jean-Yves Landry, Marcel Roux, Alfred Tardif, and his own sons Claude and Marcel. In 1930 he succeeded Giuseppe Agostini as conductor of the Philharmonie de La Salle, and in 1941 he founded the Choeur mixte (later Choeur Thompson), which he directed until 1955. Under his direction the choir presented in 1953 Handel's Samson and in 1954 two Bach cantatas. He was the first artistic director 1937-9 of radio station CHLN and produced and announced many musical programs. During the same period he founded the vocal quartet Chevaliers du guet, for whom he arranged numerous folksongs. He also gave private lessons and taught solfège and harmony in the public music courses offered 1930-70 by the Quebec government.

Thompson composed some 60 works, including Les Sept Paroles du Christ (1933) for four-part unaccompanied choir, premiered in 1937 on the CKAC radio program 'L'Heure provinciale'; the symphonic poem Mon pays (1936); five masses, including a Messe de Noël (1935) and a Messe de Pâques (1941) on Gregorian themes; and works for concert band, numerous motets, organ and piano pieces, hymns, and songs, all still unpublished except for Lumen for organ, published in Le Tombeau de Henri Gagnon (Ostiguy 1987).

Appointed in 1949 a member of the Interdiocesan Commission for Sacred Music, Thompson received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal from Pius XII for his contribution to musical liturgy. He is the author of 50 Ans de vie musicale à Trois-Rivières (Trois-Rivières 1970). When the Capitol Theatre in Trois-Rivières was renovated in 1979 it was renamed the Salle J.-Antonio-Thompson.


Further Reading

  • 'Le témoinage de Marcel Roux sur J.-Antonio Thompson,' Trois-Rivières Le Nouvelliste, 19 Mar 1974

    Lord, René. 'Un concert en hommage à J.-A. Thompson,' ibid, 15 Mar 1975

    Roux, Marcel. 'Propos sur J.-A. Thompson,' Cahiers de l'ARMuQ, 11, Sep 1989