Joseph Saucier

Joseph Saucier. Baritone, choirmaster, teacher, pianist, b Montreal 24 Feb 1869, d there 10 Apr 1941. He studied piano with his father, Moïse, and later with Charles-Marie Panneton and Dominique Ducharme, and first played in public at 10.

Saucier, Joseph

Joseph Saucier. Baritone, choirmaster, teacher, pianist, b Montreal 24 Feb 1869, d there 10 Apr 1941. He studied piano with his father, Moïse, and later with Charles-Marie Panneton and Dominique Ducharme, and first played in public at 10. At 18 he decided in favour of singing and took lessons from Paul Wiallard and Achille Fortier. After serving as a soloist at the Gesù Church and St James' Cathedral, he was organist-choirmaster in 1897 at St-Louis du Mile-End. At the end of that year he left for Paris where, as a non-diploma student at the Paris Conservatory, he studied voice with Auguste-Jean Dubulle; he also performed successfully in Paris and London. In June 1902 he sang the role of Satan in Théodore Dubois's Le Paradis perdu during the 50th-anniversary celebrations of Laval University. Saucier had prepared the role with the composer himself. He went to Paris again but returned to Montreal in 1903, becoming choirmaster at Immaculée-Conception Church. He served 1907-8 and 1911-12 as president of the AMQ (now Académie de musique du Québec). He took part 6 Nov 1913 in the premiere of Alexis Contant's oratorio Les Deux Âmes. He became a soloist at St-Louis-de-France Church in 1914 and served there as choirmaster 1927-36.

Saucier was one of the most admired Canadian singers of his time. In concert and as a soloist in oratorio he brought a sense of style to singing that was disciplined and warm in sound. Although he seldom sang opera he enjoyed a success as the High Priest in Samson et Dalila in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1923. He frequently was soloist with the Goulet Montreal Symphony Orchestra and is thought to be the first (ca 1904) French-Canadian musician to record on cylinder or disc in Canada. A list of his recordings is given in Roll Back the Years. Also, a typed discography, prepared in 1981 by Jean-Jacques Schira, has been deposited at the National Library of Canada (now Library and Archives Canada). Saucier can be heard on Great voices of Canada/Les grandes voix du Canada (Analekta AN2 7801-7803, 1993).

Saucier's wife, Octavie Turcotte, a niece and pupil of Dominique Ducharme, accompanied him on the piano in many of his recordings and in recital. Their son Jean, a neurologist, was also a violinist, and Jean's son Pierre was a critic 1956-60 with the Montreal daily La Patrie. An avenue in the north of Montreal has been named in honour of Joseph Saucier.

See also Marcel Saucier (his nephew).


Further Reading

  • Valois, Marcel. 'Le chanteur Joseph Saucier,' Montreal La Presse, 12 Apr 1941

    Turp, Richard. 'Grand tradition: Joseph Saucier 1869-1941,' Opera Canada, winter 1996