The French Institute has an ever-expanding Music Collection. Please contact us for the most recent list. Below are two larger stand-alone collections related to the larger Music Collection.
The Music Collection consists of various smaller collections. Those collections are noted below, with links to spreadsheets of their holdings.
The work of Franco-American composers is well-represented in our Music Collection. Below are a few short biographies of four of those composers.
L. J. Oscar Fontaine (1878-1950), was the son of a superior-court judge in Richelieu Country, Québec. He studied piano in St. Hyacinthe with Léon Ringuet, then in Nicolet with Octave Chatillon. He then relocated to Montréal where he worked with R. O. Pelletier and Guillaume Couture. By 1904, he had moved to the United States where he was the organist at Notre Dame Church in Fall River, Massachusetts (1904-1910). After this he was the organist at St. Anthony's Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts. In his later years he devoted himself to teaching. His compositions were published in Boston by Thompson, in London by Leonard, in Montréal by the journal La Lyre, and in Philadelphia by The Etude.
Félix J. V. LaBonté (1868-1943) was born in Springfield, Massachusetts to French-Canadian parents. He graduated from St. Marie de Monnoir College in Québec, c. 1880. He was ordained in 1893 at St. Hyacinthe’s, in St. Hyacinthe, Québec. In 1920, he was chaplain of St. Mary’s Home in New Bedford. From c. 1926- c. 1930, he was the assistant pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Attleboro, MA, living with the pastor on Main Street. In July of 1930, LaBonté was in a night accident due to dimmed headlights and was charged with driving to endanger. LaBonté was transferred from St. Anne in New Bedford to Sacred Heart (in the same city) on 27 November 1936. He remained at Sacred Heart for the rest of his life. LaBonté died in New Bedford, in July of 1943. He is buried in the Sacred Heart Old Cemetery, in New Bedford.
Louis Joseph Ernest Philie (21 September 1873-1955), a well-known Franco-American composer and organist. Known as J. Ernest Philie, he was born in St-Dominique, Québec to Louis Philie and Emma Bélanger. Philie married Rose Anne Bienvenue in Ange-Gardien, Québec, in 1894. The couple immigrated to Manchester, NH in 1895, where he taught music and was the organist at Ste. Marie. From 1904-1909, the couple lived in Woonsocket, where he continued to teach, played the organ at Precious Blood Church, and began to publish music that he composed. Most of said music was published by Theodore Presser, of Pennsylvania. After a short relocation to Fall River, MA in 1910, Philie and his wife moved to Springfield, MA, where he continued to teach and play at St. Joseph Church until well into the 1940s. He passed away in Montréal in 1955.
Alfred Theodore Plante (1897-c. 1952), another well-known Franco-American composer and organist. Plante was born in Manchester, NH to Joseph G. Plante and Eugénie Dontigny. In his youth he sang in the choir at St. Mary’s Church, which was then under the direction of J. Ernest Philie. He trained at Sherbrooke Seminary in Québec, before taking up positions at St. Augustine’s Church in Manchester, and then St. Louis de Gonzague Church in Nashua. In 1910, Plante replaced Philie as the organist at Precious Blood Church in Woonsocket, RI. He further trained under Harry Whittemore (Manchester, NH), Oscar Cartier (Sherbrooke, Québec), Felix Fox (Boston, MA), and Isidore Philippe (Paris, France).
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Librarian/Archivist of the French Institute
508-767-7000 ext. 7495
For reasons of preservation, French Institute collection materials do not circulate; however, non-rare materials are allowed to circulate through the d’Alzon Library or inter-library loan with the director’s permission.
It should be noted that the Institute’s collection includes a number of Franco-American newspapers from the New England region. Most consist of bound copies and nearly all have been microfilmed. To preserve the bound volumes, the Institute encourages scholars to consult the microfilm copies whenever they are available, for example, at the American Antiquarian Society or the Boston Public Library.