Link to home page

Les Beaux-arts

(Montreal, 1863-1864)

Prepared by Kathleen McMorrow
Online only (2009)

Les Beaux-Arts [BAR] was the first of a series of journal projects of the publisher, music dealer, conductor, and writer on music, Adélard J. Boucher (1835-1912) and his business partner Joseph Manseau. It was published monthly in Montréal, from April 1863 until May 1864, for a total of 14 issues. Gustave Smith (1826-1896), a musician, educator and author from France was the editor and printer; in January 1864 Smith took control as publisher, with his father (or brother)-in-law, M. Leprohon.

In the first year, issues had the title Les Beaux-Arts: Journal litteraire des arts, des sciences, de l’industrie, and contained eight pages. In the second year, the subtitle changed to Revue mensuel des sciences, des lettres, de l’industrie and issues ran to sixteen pages. In the first issue, a lengthy editorial “Promise” outlined hopes for the expanded journal, including the addition of contributors from Québec City and Paris, and invited letters to the editor. In April 1864 the editors announced they had cancelled the distribution arrangement with Boucher and Manseau, and would continue the business independently, but in May they announced the cessation of the journal because of lack of payment by subscribers.

One purpose stated in the first issue was “to encourage and stimulate taste in the young, by offering them a journal both educational and entertaining. A further aim was to document worthy local musical activities for future historians. Each issue begins with a summary of contents. Reports on the Montreal Numismatic Society, technical articles on printing, and poems are included, but music predominates. Performances in concert halls, churches and colleges in and around Montréal were reviewed monthly, and the organizational fortunes of the anglophone Oratorio Society, and the francophone Montagnards canadiens were followed closely. There are regular notices of prominent musicians: Calixa Lavallée, Paul Letondal, Gustave Smith himself, and F. W. Torrington, and occasional news from Paris, New York and Leipzig. Unsigned, like most articles, a five-part series on the mechanics and history of the organ was probably written by Smith. Another series was of eight excerpts, reprinted without author attribution, from the Vie anecdotique de Paganini by Léon Escudier. A calendar of religious dates for use by organists, music teachers’ professional cards, and announcements of new music and textbooks filled the back pages. Sheet music was included within each issue of the first year, and in a supplemental Album in the second year. Most of the selections were songs or piano pieces by Montreal composers. Charles W. Sabatier (1819-1862) was the most often represented, with three excerpts from his Cantate pour l'arrivée du Prince de Galles en Canada (1860) in piano-vocal reduction.

This RIPM publication is based on a microfilm of the journal published by the Société canadienne du Microfilm, Inc., Montréal.