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Quatuor Octave-Pelletier (fl. 1916-1918)

Quatuor Octave-Pelletier: Bottom row (left to right): Jean-Marie Magnan, Guillaume Dupuis, director; Upper row (left to right): Rodrigue Gauthier, Arthur Lapierre and Joseph-Henri Thibodeau  

Around 1916, Guillaume Dupuis (1887-1954), a choir master and singing teacher in several Montréal institutions, created the Quatuor Octave-Pelletier, a quartet named in honour of his former teacher, Romain-Octave Pelletier (1843-1927).

The Quatuor Octave-Pelletier brought together tenors Arthur Lapierre and Joseph-Henri Thibodeau, baritone Rodrigue Gauthier and bass Jean-Marie Magnan. Each member of the group continued his solo career and also sang with other groups.

The ensemble became known through concert performances before being offered, in May 1918, a recording session at Columbia studios in New York. The quartet recorded folk songs ("Alouette", "À la claire fontaine", "Isabeau", "V'là l'bon vent…"), patriotic songs ("Ô Canada", "mon pays, mes amours", "Un Canadien errant", "Ô Canada, terre de nos aïeux") and religious songs ("Minuit chrétiens", "Jérusalem"). Between August 1918 and January 1920, the ensemble produced ten records. On the first two (Columbia E3979 and E3980), the quartet was called the "Canadian Columbia Quartet".

On October 19, 1918, Rodrigue Gauthier died in the serious Spanish flu epidemic that claimed so many victims in Canada. Guillaume Dupuis took his place and bass Armand Gauthier filled the place left by Jean-Marie Magnan, but the group folded shortly thereafter.

For more information on Quatuor Octave-Pelletier's recordings, please consult the Virtual Gramophone database.

Robert Thérien, music researcher, Montréal