Arthur Letondal | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Arthur Letondal

Arthur (Joseph August) Letondal. Pianist, organist, teacher, writer on music, b Montreal 30 Apr 1869, d there 12 May 1956; lauréat (Brussels Conservatory) 1893, D MUS (Montreal) 1925.

Letondal, Arthur

Arthur (Joseph August) Letondal. Pianist, organist, teacher, writer on music, b Montreal 30 Apr 1869, d there 12 May 1956; lauréat (Brussels Conservatory) 1893, D MUS (Montreal) 1925. After studying with his father, Paul, he obtained his diploma ca 1886 at the AMQ and taught for a few years at the Collège Ste-Marie. He then followed the advice his father gave his most gifted pupils and spent the years 1890-4 in Europe. At the Paris Conservatory he studied piano with Antoine-François Marmontel and harmony with Antoine-Barthélémy Taudou. Drawn by the reputation of the organist Alphonse Mailly, he worked under his direction at the Brussels Conservatory, also studying with Édouard Samuel (harmony), Arthur de Greef (piano), and Ferdinand-Hubert Kufferath (counterpoint and fugue). Kufferath and Mailly had a profound influence on Letondal's career as an organist and an accompanist of Gregorian chant.

Returning to Montreal, Letondal was organist 1894-1900 at the Pères du St-Sacrament Church, 1900-23 at the Gesù Church (where he succeeded Dominique Ducharme), and 1923-49 at St-Jacques-le-Majeur Cathedral, following Romain-Octave Pelletier. Like his father, he was an exceptional teacher; he taught 1895-1900 at the Canadian Artistic Society Conservatory, after 1901 at the Institut Nazareth, 1904-10 at the McGill Conservatory, and, most important, in 1943 he was appointed to the teaching staff of the CMM. He trained several winners of the Prix d'Europe, including Léo-Pol Morin (1912), Germaine Malépart (1917), Paul Doyon (1925), Alice Ste-Marie (1926), Rita Savard (1927), Gilberte Martin (1930), Marcelle Martin (1941), and Clermont Pépin (1949), and he also taught Gabriel Cusson, Isabelle Delorme, his cousin Henri Gagnon, Lucien Jolicoeur, Jules Lamontagne, Conrad Letendre, Raoul Paquet, Éviola Plouffe, Paul Pratt, Caroline Racicot, Émiliano Renaud, Georges-Émile Tanguay, and others. He was a member of the Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique (Paris), president 1898-9, 1905-6, 1913-14, and 1920-3 of the AMQ, and honorary president of the Schola cantorum.

Letondal wrote works for piano including Gavotte (Le Piano-Canada 1895), Trois pièces de genre (Hardy 1897), which subsequently were orchestrated by J.-J. Gagnier, Mazurka sentimentale (L'Art musical 1899; CMH, vol 6), Berceuse (Musica), Sarabande (Ditson), and Danse moyen âge (Lavigueur & Hutchison); works for organ such as Prélude grave (Édition Belgo-Canadienne 1924), Offertoire (ibid 1925; recorded in 1983 by Mervyn Games on Savvy S-1001), and Toccata (J. Fischer; CMH, vol 4b); and religious songs including a Tantum ergo (CMH, vol 9).

Letondal gave numerous lectures and wrote articles for several publications. His study of Calixa Lavallée was published in L'Action française (Oct 1919) and reprinted in La Musique (Feb 1920) and Musique et musiciens (Nov 1952). He also wrote 'Considerations générales sur l'éducation musicale au Canada' (L'Art musical, Oct 1896), 'Un musicien oublié, Charles Waugh Sabatier' (L'Action nationale, Oct 1933), 'Le Gesù ... musical!' (Album annuel du collège Sainte-Marie, Montreal 1939), and 'Ernest Gagnon, écrivain et folkloriste' (Qui? Mar 1951).

See also Henri Letondal (his son).

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