Open main menu

PASDELOUP, Jules Etienne, born in Paris Sept. 15, 1819, gained the 1st prize of the Conservatoire for solfeggio in 1832, and the ist for the piano in 1834. He then took lessons in harmony from Dourlen, and in composition from Carafa. Though active and ambitious, he might have had to wait long for an opportunity of making his powers known, had not a post in the Administration des Domaines fallen to his lot during the political changes of 1848, and enabled him to provide for his family. As Governor of the Château of St. Cloud, he was not only thrown into contact with persons of influence, but had leisure at command for composition. The general refusal of the societies in Paris to perform his orchestral works had doubtless much to do with his resolve to found the 'Société des jeunes artistes du Conservatoire,' the first concert of which he conducted on February 20, 1851. M. Pasdeloup had now found his vocation, which was neither that of a government official, nor a composer, but of an able conductor, bringing forward the works of other masters native and foreign. At the concerts of the 'Société des jeunes artistes' in the Salle Herz, Rue de la Victoire, he produced the symphonies of Gounod, Lefebure-Wely, Saint-Saëns, Gouvy, Demersseman, and other French composers, and there Parisians heard for the first time Mozart's 'Entführung,' Meyerbeer's 'Struensee,' and several of Schumann's standard works. After two years spent in forming his young band,[1] and struggling against the indifference of the paying portion of the public, M. Pasdeloup resolved on a bold stroke, and moved his quarters to the Cirque d'hiver, then the Cirque Napoléon, where on October 27, 1861, he opened his 'Concerts populaires,' given every Sunday at the same hour as the concerts of the Conservatoire. The striking and well-deserved success of these entertainments roused universal attention, and procured their conductor honours of various kinds. Baron Hausmann had already requested him to organise and conduct the concerts at the Hôtel de Ville; the Prefect of the Seine appointed him one of the two directors of the Orphéon [Orphéon]; and M. de Nieuwerkerke, Surintendant des Beaux Arts, frequently called upon him to select and conduct the concerts which formed the main attraction of the soirées given by the Director of the Museum of the Louvre. He also received the Legion of Honour. Time passed on, and M. Pasdeloup increased his exertions, striving year by year to add fresh interest to the 'Concerts Populaires,' at which he produced much music previously unknown in Paris. By engaging the services of first-rate artists, and by care in the selection and execution of works classical and modern, he has done much to form the taste and enlarge the knowledge of his audiences, and has thus contributed to raise the level of music throughout France.

An ardent admirer of Wagner, M. Pasdeloup made use of his short managership of the Théâtre Lyrique (1868–1870) to produce 'Rienzi' (April 6, 1869). He undertook this office on disadvantageous terms, and lost heavily by it. The Franco-German war gave a serious check to his career, but when it was over he resumed the 'Concerts populaires,' which are still (March 1880) carried on, with the aid of a government subsidy of 25000 fr. But the 'Concerts du Châtelet,' and the numerous 'Matinées dramatiques' have drawn off many of his old subscribers. Elwart compiled a history of the concerts, but he does not go beyond their first start, and they have now been in existence 19 years. During this lengthened period the indefatigable conductor has never once broken faith with the public, and is still as ardent, as energetic, and as heartily devoted to his art, as on the first day on which he held the baton.

[ G. C. ]

Appendix, p.744:

After a popularity of many years' duration, during which the Concerts Populaires acquired an almost universal celebrity, and did much to develop musical taste in France, and to cultivate the symphonic school of music, the enterprise rapidly declined. The Sunday Matinées at the theatres were formidable rivals to Pasdeloup's concerts, besides which the public taste which he had done so much to train was turning altogether in the direction of the concerts given by MM. Colonne and Lamoureux, whose standard of performance was more careful, and who succeeded better in gauging the requirements of the audience. Under these circumstances Pasdeloup, after vain efforts to reinstate himself in public favour, decided to resign, and closed the Concerts Populaires in April 1884, the 23rd year of their existence. On May 31, 1884, a grand festival benefit was organized in Pasdeloup's honour at the Trocadéro, by which a sum of nearly 100,000 francs was raised; all French artists, whether composers, singers or instrumentalists, joined to contribute towards assuring a competence for the excellent man who had done so much to make the fortunes of many artists without furthering his own interests. After this exhibition of gratitude and charity M. Pasdeloup would have done well to remain in well-earned retirement; in the winter of 1885, however, he organized concerts at Monte Carlo, and afterwards founded pianoforte classes in Paris. At the conclusion of the educational course he gave paying concerts of chamber music. In Oct. 1886, after Godard had failed (in 1884) in his attempt to reconstruct the Concerts Populaires, Pasdeloup began a new series with the old title, giving one concert a month from Oct. 1886 to March 1887, with a sacred concert on Good Friday. This inopportune revival, with a conductor weakened by age and illness, and an inefficient orchestra, could not possibly succeed. Pasdeloup did not long survive the cessation of the concerts, and died at Fontainebleau on Aug. 13, 1887, from the effects of paralysis.

[ A. J. ]

  1. Recruited from the pupils of the Conservatoire.