Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/96

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
84
LAGUERRE.
LA FAGE.

both vocal and instrumental, sacred and secular, but it is as a historian and didactic writer that his name will live. His 'Cours complet de Plain-Chant' (Paris 1855–56, 2 vols 8vo.) is a book of the first order, and fully justifies its title. It was succeeded by the 'Nouveau Traité de Plain-Chant romain,' with questions, an indispensable supplement to the former. His 'Histoire générale de la musique' (Paris 1844, 2 vols. 8vo., with an album of plates) is incomplete, treating only of Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, and Hebrew music, but it is a careful and conscientious work, and has been largely used by Fétis. His learning and method appear conspicuously in his 'Extraits du Catalogue critique et raisonné d'une petite bibliothèque musicale' (Rennes, undated, 120 pp. 8vo., 100 copies only), and in his 'Essais de Diphthérographie musicale' (Paris, 1864, 2 vols. 8vo., one containing very curious musical examples). A perusal of these two books will amply corroborate every word we have said in praise of this erudite musician. He left a valuable library (the catalogue was published, Paris 1862, 8vo.), afterwards dispersed by auction; but his unpublished works and materials are in the Bibliothèque nationale, to which he bequeathed all his papers, with the MSS. of Choron and Baini in his possession.

[ G. C. ]

LAFONT, Charles Philippe, an eminent violinist, was born at Paris in 1781 [App. p.694 "Dec. 1"]. Fétis relates that he got his first instruction on the violin from his mother, a sister of Bertheaume, a well-known violinist of that period, whom he also accompanied on his travels through Germany, performing successfully, when only eleven years of age, at Hamburg, Oldenburg and other towns. On his return to Paris he continued his studies under Kreutzer; and soon appeared at the Théâtre Feydeau, though not as a violinist, but as a singer of French ballads. After some time he again took up the violin, this time under the tuition of Rode, and soon proved himself a player of exceptional merit. Fétis credits him with a perfect intonation, a pure and mellow, though somewhat feeble tone, great powers of execution, and a remarkable charm of expression. From 1801 to 1808 he travelled and played with great success in France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Russia. In 1808 he was appointed Rode's successor as solo-violinist to the Emperor of Russia, a position in which he remained for six years. In 1812 [App. p.694 "1816"] he had a public contest with Paganini at Milan. In 1815 he returned to Paris, and was appointed solo-violinist to Louis XVIII. In 1831 he made a long tour with Henri Herz, the pianist, which occupied him till 1839 [App. p.694 "Aug. 23"], when his career was suddenly ended by a carriage accident in the south of France, through which he lost his life.

Spohr in his Autobiography praises his fine tone, perfect intonation, energy and gracefulness, but deplores the absence of deep feeling, and accuses him of mannerism in phrasing. He also relates that Lafont's repertoire was confined to a very few pieces, and that he would practise a concerto for years before venturing on it in public,—a method which, although leading to absolute mechanical perfection, appears absurd from an artistic or even musical point of view. Lafont's compositions for the violin are of no musical value; they comprise seven Concertos, a number of Fantasias, Rondos, etc. He wrote a number of Duos concertants in conjunction with Kalkbrenner, Herz, etc.; more than 200 ballads (romances), which for a time were very popular; and two operas.

[ P. D. ]

LAGARDE, a French basso, who sang the part of Farasmane in Handel's 'Radamisto,' on the revival of that opera in Dec. 1720, with Senesino. It is not known who played Farasmane at the former performances; perhaps Lagarde. He does not appear again in the casts.

[ J. M. ]

LAGUERRE, Jean, commonly called Jack, was the son of Louis Laguerre, the artist who painted the greater part of Verrio's large picture in St. Bartholomew s Hospital, the 'Labours of Hercules' in chiar'oscuro at Hampton Court, the staircase at Wilton, etc., and is immortalized by Pope in the line

'Where sprawl the saints of Verrio and Laguerre.'

This painter came to England in 1683, and died in 1721, his son Jean having, as it is supposed, been born about 1700. The lad was instructed by his father for his own profession, and had already shown some ability; but, having a talent for music, he took to the stage, where he met with fair success. It must be he whom we find, under the name of Mr. Legar, playing the part of Metius in Camilla (revived), 1726, which had formerly (1706 and 8) been sung by Ramondon, a low tenor. Again, he is advertized (Daily Journal, March 13, 1731) as sustaining the added role of Corydon in 'Acis and Galatea,' 'for the benefit of M. Rochetti, at Lincoln's Inn Theatre Royal, on Friday, 26th,' his name being spelled as in the cast of 'Camilla.' [App. p.694 "add that in 1737 he sang in Capt. Breval's 'Rape of Helen' the part of Mercury, and that his name was correctly spelt in the cast."] He died in London in 1748.

Laguerre has been described as 'a high fellow, a great humourist, wit, singer, player, caricaturist, mimic, and a good scene-painter; and, according to the notions of that merry age, known to everybody worth knowing.' He engraved a set of prints of 'Hob in the Well,' which had a great sale, though indifferently executed; but we also owe to his point an exceedingly clever etching, 'The Stage Mutiny' (Br. Mus. Cat. 1929), in which we have caricature-portraits of Colley and Theo. Gibber (as Pistol), Highmore, Mrs. Wilks, Ellis, Griffin, Johnson, and others. Hogarth did not disdain to copy this interesting print, having used it on the show-cloth in 'Southwark Fair' (Br. Mus. Cat. 1960).

As a painter, Laguerre was the author of the portrait of Mary Tofts, not the singer but the pretended rabbit-breeder, engraved by J. Faber in mezzotint. He also painted the portrait of Spiller for the Spiller's Head tavern, as we learn from that actor's epitaph, which begins thus:—

'The butchers' wives fall in hysteric fits;
For, sure as they're alive, poor Spiller's dead;
But, thanks to Jack Laguerre, we've got his head.'

[ J. M. ]