Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/405

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CONSERVATOIRE DE MUSIQUE
393
 

professors of comedy. Auber also instituted lectures on the history and literature of music, to which he appointed Samson in 1855. The débuts under Auber's management were most brilliant, and he drew public attention to the Conservatoire by reviving the public practices. The façade of the establishment in the Faubourg Poissonnière was re-built in 1845, and in 1864 the building was considerably enlarged, and those in the Rue du Conservatoire inaugurated, including the hall and offices of the theatre, the museum, and library. The associate classes of military pupils, formed on the suppression of the Gymnase militaire in 1856, made these enlargements indispensable.

But notwithstanding the growing importance of the Conservatoire under Auber a strict and impartial direction, the last years of his life were embittered by the revival of the office of 'Administrateur' in the person of Lassabathie, and the appointment of a commission in 1870 to re-organise the studies—a step in which some members foresaw the ruin of the school. In 1859, at the beginning of this troubled period, the reform of the pitch took place which fixed the A at 870 vibrations. Lassabathie at the same time published his 'Histoire du Conservatoire impérial de Musique et de Déclamation' (Paris, 1860), a hasty selection of documents, but containing ample details as to the professorial staff.

Since the nomination of M. Ambroise Thomas, the present director, the office cf 'Administrateur' and the pensionnat have been suppressed, and Mr. Emile Réty has been appointed Secretary-General. Lectures on the general history of music have been instituted; M. Barbereau, the original lecturer, has been succeeded by M. Eugéne Gautier; an orchestral class directed by M. Deldevez, and compulsory vocal classes for reading at sight have been founded, and the solfeggio teaching has been completely reformed. The following professors have been appointed:—MM. Theo. Dubois, Guiraud, harmony; MM. Croeti, Bussine, Boulanger, Potier, Mme. Viardot, who has lately resigned, and been succeeded by M. Barbot, singing; M. Charles Colin, oboe; M. Jancourt, bassoon; M. Delisse, trombone; M. Maury, cornet-à-piston. M. Ambroise Thomas has endeavoured to improve the tuition in all its branches, to raise the salaries of the professors, and increase the general budget, which has risen to 210,000 francs, and is expected soon to reach 240,000 francs—a sum amply sufficient for the expenses of the Institution with its staff of 8 titularies, 77 professors, and 10 employés.

The tuition at present is divided as follows:—16 solfeggio classes under 4 masters—in 12 of which the lessons are individual, in the remaining 4 in class; 8 singing classes under 8 masters; a class for vocal harmony, and another for the study of part-writing, each with its professor. For lyrical declamation there is 1 class for the opera and 2 classes for the opera-comique. The 31 instrumental classes are as follows:—6 for violin; 2 for cello; 1 for double-bass, for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, cornet, trombone, harp, chamber music, organ, improvisation, and orchestral composition. There are also 10 classes for piano, 4 for men and 6 for women.

For the study of harmony there are 6 classes. Also three for composition, counterpoint, and fugue (under Reber, Massé, and Bazin, all members of the Institut de France). To these classes must be added those for the general history of music, grammar, prosody, and orthophony, 3 classes for dramatic declamation, 1 for stage deportment, and 1 for fencing.

The classes are held 3 times a week, each one lasting 2 hours. The regulation number of pupils is either 8, 10, or 12, according to the class, but a few candidates are also admitted as 'auditeurs.' Among the professors who have charge of the classes just enumerated, we find such names as Massé, Franchomme, Chevillard, René Baillot, Deldevez, Reber, Bazin, Régnier, Bressant, and many of the most celebrated artists. The academic year begins on the first Monday in October, and closes at the end of July.

The names of those seeking admission to the Conservatoire must be sent in to the committee of management at the beginning of October, and an examination before the Committee of Tuition must be successfully passed. The youngest pupils only are admitted into the preparatory solfeggio and piano classes; in the higher classes, for vocal music and declamation, the age is limited to 22. The pupils have to pass two examinations in each academic year, and take part in one or more public practices; they are also admitted to the July competitions according to their ability. The competitions in singing, opera, opera-comique, tragedy, comedy, and instrumental music, are held publicly in the large concert-room. The distribution of prizes follows, under the presidency of the Minister of Public Education and Fine Arts.

This important institution provides musical and dramatic instruction for upwards of 600 pupils and 'auditeurs,' who, besides their regular studies, have the advantage of an extensive library and a museum of musical instruments.

The Library, which dates from the foundation of the school itself, is open to the public daily from 10 to 4. The first librarian, Eler, was followed by Langlé (1796–1807), the Abbé Roze (1807–1820), Perne (1820–1822), Fétis (1827–1831), Bottée de Toulmon (1831–1850), Berlioz (as conservateur 1839–1850, and as librarian 1852–1869), Félicien David (1869–1876). Since 1876 M. Weckerlin has acted aa librarian.

The Library contains over 30,000 works, and the number is increased every year by means of a special grant. It also possesses a considerable number of manuscripts and autographs, to which those of the Prix de Rome were added in 1871, through the efforts of the writer. This collection contains the autographs of all the prize cantatas since the foundation of the Prix de Rome in 1803. Amongst the other important collections are those of Eler, composed of works of the 16th and 17th centuries put into score; of Bottée de