Calixa Lavallée from 1873
December 28, 1842|
|Died||January 21, 1891
|Occupation||Quebecois musician and composer|
Calixa Lavallée, (December 28, 1842 – January 21, 1891), born Calixte Paquet dit Lavallée, was a French-Canadian-American musician and Union Army officer during the American Civil War who composed the music for O Canada, which officially became the national anthem of Canada in 1980.
Calixa Lavallée was born near Verchères, a suburb of Montreal, Quebec. His father, Augustin Lavallée, was accomplished in many trades, including those of blacksmith, logger, bandmaster, and self-taught luthier. Calixa began his musical education with his father and studied in Montréal with Charles Wugk Sabatier. In 1857, he moved to the U.S. and lived in Rhode Island where he enlisted in the 4th Rhode Island Volunteers of the Union army during the American Civil War, attaining the rank of Lieutenant.
During and after the war, he traveled between Canada and the United States building his career in music. Lavallée resided in Louisiana, California, and in the French Canadian community of Lowell, Massachusetts where he married an American woman, Josephine Gentilly (or "Gently"), in 1867. He conducted major orchestral and operatic productions in important concert halls such as the Montréal Academy of Music in Montréal and directed at the Grand Opera House in New York. Among his notable pupils was composer Alexis Contant.
During the later years of his life, Lavallée was the choirmaster at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston and he died in that city in 1891. As the result of the campaign by the Montréal based music director of the Victoria's Rifles, Joseph-Laurent Gariépy, his remains were returned to Montréal and reinterred at Côte-des-Neiges Cemetery in 1933.
Selected musical works
- Loulou, comic opera
- The Bridal Rose Overture, operetta
- The King of Diamonds, operetta
- L'Absence, lyrics by Remi Tremblay, 1882–1885
- L'Oiseau Mouche, Bluette de Salon, Op.11, 1865? 
- Le Papillon (The Butterfly) Étude de Concert for flute, clarinet and piano, 1884
- Marche funèbre, 1878
- O Canada, 1880
- La veuve, 1881, comic opera (known in English as "The widow")
- Une Couronne de Lauriers, Caprice de Genre, Op.10, 1864?
- Violette, cantilène, lyrics by Napoleon Legendre and P.J. Curran, 1879
The town of Calixa-Lavallée, northeast of Montreal, is named after him.
The following roads were named to honour Calixa Lavallée:
- Avenue Calixa-Lavallée, located in Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada.
- Avenue Calixa-Lavallée, located in Quebec, Quebec, Canada.
- Rue Calixa-Lavallée, located in Magog, Quebec, Canada.
- Rue Calixa-Lavallée, a dead-end street entering into Lafontaine Park, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
- Calixa-Lavallée Privée (Calixa-Lavallée Pvt.) a small dead-end laneway on the University of Ottawa campus
The professional training school Calixa-Lavallée in Quebec also bears his name.
- "'O Canada'". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-04-22.
- Government of Canada (2008-06-23). "Hymne national du Canada". Canadian Heritage. Government of Canada. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
- "Lavallée, Augustin". The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
- The Canadian Encyclopedia, Alexis Contant
- Petrucci Music Library IMSLP Forum, including public domain scores
- Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
- Free scores by Calixa Lavallée at the International Music Score Library Project
- Free scores by Calixa Lavallée in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)