Monday, November 1, 2010

New Works List, Bibliography & French Version on Haitian Composer Justin Elie (1883-1931)

[Justin Elie (Cover photo of sheet music for Nostalgie)]

Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma recently provided with a list of Works and a Bibliography, which have made the Justin Elie page at the website more informative than ever. We are also pleased to announce a completely new French translation contributed by Alexis Marise Bique, who blogs in French on “Société d'Histoire 94120 Saint-George & Dalayrac.”

The composer and pianist Justin Elie was born Sept. 1, 1883 in Cap Haïtien, Haiti. He began his music education in his home country and continued it in France at the Cours Masset. In 1901 he enrolled in the Paris Conservatory, where he studied piano, harmony and composition. A brief biography of Justin Elie is contained in Vodou Nation: Haitian Art Music And Cultural Nationalism, written by Michael Largey: “At the height of his career, Justin Elie (1883-1931) enjoyed the most prominent international reputation of all the Haitian composers; this reputation was fostered by his frequent trips abroad from his student days on.”

“Justin Elie's Méringues populaires (1920) were a set of six dances published by R. de la Rozier Co. in New York City that set a tone of resistance toward the U.S. occupation, albeit in a form that only Haitian audiences would recognize.” “Elie wrote several pieces that used Indianist musical motifs and descriptive programs that put Native Americans at the center of Haitian musical life. Unlike Lamothe, whose audience was primarily drawn from Haiti, Elie developed his career in the United States.”

“Eager to make a career of music composition, Justin Elie left Haiti on 12 September 1922 and moved to New York City.” “His wife, Lily, joined him in New York in February 1923 and the two of them performed frequently in recitals that included Elie's compositions.” “Unfortunately, the work that might have secured Elie's name in the memories of concert-going audiences in the United States was never published.” “In spite of its technical and artistic merits, Fantaisie Tropicale was never published due to Elie's sudden death on 3 December 1931 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

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