A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Choron, Alexandre
CHORON, Alexandre Etienne, born at Caen October 21, 1771, died at Paris June 29, 1834. He was a good scholar before becoming a musician. He began the study of music without assistance, but afterwards received lessons from Roze, Bonesi, and other Italian professors. Highly gifted by nature, he soon acquired great knowledge in mathematics, languages, and every branch of music, and published his 'Principes d'accompagnement des écoles d'ltalie' (Paris, 1804). In 1808 he gave his 'Principes de composition des écoles d'ltalie' (3 vols.), in which he introduced Sala's practical exercises on fugue and counterpoint, Marpurg's treatise on fugue, many exercises from Padre Martini's ' Esemplare,' and a new system of harmony of his own—a work which cost him much time and money. He next became a music publisher, and published many fine works of the best Italian and German masters. In conjunction with Fayolle he then undertook the publication of his 'Dictionnaire des Musiciens' (2 vols., 8vo., Paris, 1810–11). Though devoted to his scientific studies and hampered with an unsuccessful business, Choron could not resist the temptation of trying his powers as a composer, and gave to the public 'La Sentinelle,' a song still popular, and introduced in many French plays. But his great scheme was his 'Introduction a l'étude générale et raisonnée de la Musique,' a capital book, which he left unfinished, because his necessities obliged him to devote his time to teaching music and to accept the situation of 'Directeur de la musique des fêtes publiques' from 1812 to the fall of Napoleon. He was appointed director of the Académie royale de Musique (Opera) in January 1816, but the appointment having been rudely revoked in 1817 he founded a school for the study of music, which was supported by the government from 1824 to 1830 under the title of 'Institution royale de Musique classique et religieuse,' but declined rapidly when deprived of external aid. Amongst the musicians educated by Choron in this famous school we shall mention only the composers Dietsch, Monpou, Boulanger-Kunzé, G. Duprez, Scudo, Jansenne, and Nicou-Choron; the lady singers Clara Novello, Rosine Stolz, and Hébert-Massy.The premature death of Choron may be attributed to disappointments and difficulties after the fall of Charles X. This learned musician and very kind-hearted man composed a Mass for three voices, a Stabat for three voices, and a number of hymns, psalms, and vocal pieces for the church; but his best titles to fame, after the works already mentioned, are his translations and editions of Albrechtsberger's works, his 'Méthode concertante de Musique à plusieurs parties' (Paris, 1817), his 'Méthode de Plain-Chant,' his 'Manuel complet de Musique vocale et instrumentale ou Encyclopédie musicale,' which was published by his assistant Adrien de La Fage in 1836–38 (Paris, 6 vols. and 2 vols. of examples), and several other didactic treatises, which contributed greatly to improve the direction of musical studies in France. In fact, Choron may be considered as a pedagogue of genius, and he had the credit of opening a new field to French musicians, such as Fétis, Geo. Kastner, and Adrien de La Fage, A full list of his essays, titles, and prefaces of intended works, revised treatises of Italian, German, and French didactic writers would be too long for this dictionary; it is given by Fétis in a remarkable article on Choron in his 'Biographie Universelle.' For more detailed information the reader may be referred to that work and to the 'Eloges' of Gauthier (Caen, 1845) and A. de La Fage (Paris, 1843). Scudo, in his 'Critique et Littérature musicales' (Paris, 1852, p. 333), has given a vivid picture of Choron as director of his school of music. Choron's drawback appears to have been a want of perseverance, and a propensity to forsake his plans before he had carried them out. But he exercised a very useful influence on musical education in France, and will not soon be forgotten there.
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