A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Clé du Caveau
CLÉ DU CAVEAU. The title of a large collection of French airs, including the tunes of old songs dating from before the time of Henri IV, old vaudevilles, commonly called pont-neufs, and airs from operas and opéras comiques which from their frequent use in comédies-vaudevilles have become popular airs (what are called timbres). The fourth and last edition of the work, published by Capelle, goes down to 1848; a new edition would have to include airs taken from comic operas by Auber, Adam, etc., written since the above date, and airs from the operettas of Offenbach and Lecocq, which have now become new types for the vaudeville couplet and have enriched the domain of the popular song. The collection is so arranged that it is perfectly easy to find either the tune of a song of which the words only are known, or the metre and rhythm of words which will fit any particular air. The publication is especially useful to dramatists who have to write couplets for a vaudeville, and to amateur song-writers; it contains 2350 different airs, and as many forms or models for couplets. The origin of the title is as follows:—Three French song-writers of the 18th century Piron, Crébillon fils, and Collé, instituted, in 1733, a sort of club, where they dined regularly, together with other song-writers and literary men. They called their society le Caveau, from the place of meeting, an inn of that name kept by one Landelle in the Rue de Buci, near the Comédie Française and the Café Procope, where these boon companions finished their evenings. From that time all societies of song-writers have connected themselves as much as possible with this first society, and so the name Caveau is synonymous with a club of the same kind. The original society lasted exactly ten years, after which, in 1762, Piron, Crébillon fils, and Gentil-Bernard formed a new society in the same place, which lasted only five years. After the Revolution, the 'Caveau moderne' was founded in 1806 by Capelle, the author of the Clé du Caveau, with the help of Grimod de la Reynière, Piis, Armand Gouffé, and Philippon de la Madeleine; they met at Balaine's in the Rocher de Cancale, rue Mont-orgueil. The society lasted till 1815, and in 1825 an effort was made to revive it, but after a year's existence it disappeared, together with another club, 'Les Soupers de Momus,' founded in 1813. In 1835 a new society was founded at Champeaux's under the direction of Albert Montémont, and was called at first les Enfants du Caveau, and then le Caveau only. It still exists, and is managed by a committee headed by a president elected every year, who holds Panard's glass and Collés bells as symbols of his office.
[ A. J. ]