Salomon Mazurette

Salomon (or Solomon) Mazurette. Pianist, composer, organist, teacher, baritone, b Montreal 26 Jun 1847, d Detroit 19 Sep 1910. As a child he sang for five years as a soloist in Notre-Dame Church.

Mazurette, Salomon

Salomon (or Solomon) Mazurette. Pianist, composer, organist, teacher, baritone, b Montreal 26 Jun 1847, d Detroit 19 Sep 1910. As a child he sang for five years as a soloist in Notre-Dame Church. He took piano lessons for eight years with Paul Letondal, studied 1865-6 at Ottawa College (University of Ottawa), and then went to Paris to work with the virtuoso pianist Jacques Herz and the organist Édouard Batiste. In Paris Mazurette apparently gave successful concerts with the Greek violinist Joseph Dawsrahk. After returning to Montreal in 1870 he set out on an extended concert tour which took him through New England, Michigan, and Illinois. Back in Montreal, in November 1873, he gave two recitals at Queen's Hall; an anonymous critic wrote in L'Opinion publique: 'M. Mazurette is already a master. He has more than just talent, he has the inspiration of genius. Like Liszt, his illustrious rival, our Canadian artist makes the piano speak and sing.'

Mazurette moved to Detroit in 1873, returning only on rare occasions to give concerts in Canada. In May 1890 he took part in two concerts in Montreal at the Victoria rink with Emma Albani. 'Leading critics admit that he has no superior on the American continent,' wrote La Minerve on this occasion, adding that 'the sounds he draws from the piano one would believe possible only in flights of ecstatic imagination.' In Detroit he was for many years the organist at St Anne's Church, and in neighbouring Windsor, Ont, he was music director of St Mary's Academy for at least the 1875-6 school year. He was awarded a gold medal in 1876 for his performance at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

Dubbed the 'King of Canadian pianists,' Mazurette belongs to that generation of 19th-century pianist-composers whose considerable success with the public was due to their spectacular performance style and to compositions in which bravura passages and facile sentimental melodies abound. He was an unusually prolific composer, and his works were much in demand among publishers. The best-known was Home, Sweet Home, Opus 17 (CMH, vol 1), 'a brilliant Romance with variations imitating waves during a storm,' which he composed in August 1870 aboard ship on his return journey from France. Numerous editions were produced by Ditson, Schott, Ashdown, and Sheard. Old Folks at Home, 'a grand concert paraphrase' published by Gordon, bears the opus number 275, an indication of the abundance of his output. On l Jul 1876, a list containing 52 of his works then published and sold at Boucher's, appeared in Le Canada Musical. Mazurette wrote mainly for piano and voice, but he also composed a Mass in D Minor, sung in 1875 in Trinity Church, Detroit. He dedicated some sentimental ballads to famous singers such as Emma Albani ('O! Give me back my native hills'), Annie Louise Cary, Clara Louise Kellogg, and Marie Roze.

Despite the active life he appears to have led in Detroit as organist, teacher, and composer, he died destitute and was buried in a pauper's grave. In 1964 a street in north Montreal was named after him. His daughter Hortense (mezzo-soprano, b 1889, d 16 Jan 1927) studied with Fernando Tanara. It is thought that she sang at the Metropolitan Opera ca 1917, but then gave up the stage.


Further Reading

  • 'Monsieur S. Mazurette,' Montreal Gazette, 10 Jan 1873

    'M. Salomon Mazurette,' Montreal L'Opinion publique, 6 Nov 1873

    'Salomon Mazurette,' La Minerve, May 1890

    'Mazurette is dead; master of music forgotten by the thousands he had thrilled,' Detroit News, 20 Sep 1910