A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Colonne, Judas

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COLONNE, Judas (called Edouard), violinist and conductor, born at Bordeaux, July 24, 1838, studied music at the Paris Conservatoire, where he gained the first prize for harmony in 1858, and the same for violin in 1863. He became first violin in the Opéra orchestra, but left it in 1873 to establish, with the music-publisher Hartmann, the 'Concert Mational.' These concerts lasted two seasons, and were first held at the Odéon theatre, where Franck's 'Rédemption' and Massenet's 'Marie Magdeleine' were performed for the first time; the concerts were subsequently held at the Châtelet. In 1874, Hartmann having retired, Colonne endeavoured to form an association among artists which should be patronised by amateurs and the public. In this way were founded the Concerts du Châtelet, which though at first unsuccessful, have since gained so wide a reputation. It was not easy to struggle against the established popularity of the Concerts Populaires, conducted by Pasdeloup, but Colonne had the excellent idea of giving more prominence to the works of the younger French composers; he produced several orchestral suites by Massenet, the first and second of which had previously been given at the Concerts Populaires, and various orchestral compositions by Lalo, Dubois, Franck, etc.; but the success of the concerts was not fully assured until Colonne, foreseeing a reaction in favour of Berlioz, and incited by the example of Pasdeloup, in a manner devoted his concerts to the great French composer by producing with great care, and in their entirety, all his works for chorus and orchestra; 'L'Enfance du Christ,' 'Roméo et Juliette,' and particularly 'La Damnation de Faust,' the success of which crowned the popularity of his undertaking. The enterprise, having quite replaced the Concerts Populaires in public favour, became most profitable to all concerned in it, and to its director, who in 1880 was decorated with the Légion d'Honneur; he had before, in 1878, been chosen to conduct the concerts at the Trocadéro during the Exhibition. He is an extremely careful conductor, he rehearses with the most scrupulous care, and succeeds in giving a correct and vigorous interpretation of the works he performs. In his anxiety for clearness he had at one time a tendency to slacken the tempi, and was sometimes lacking in fire and energy; but in this respect he has corrected his deficiencies, and now infuses more warmth into the members of his orchestra.

[ A. J. ]