douard Jean. Toussaint Dirige Vers la Bataille
The discussion below, introduced by Max Blanchet and drawing responses from John Kozyn, Wesley Madhere and Gage Averill, took place on the Corbett mailing list in June 1999.FromMax Blachet MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net
I just finished listening to a cassette put out by the Societe de Recherche et de Diffusion de la Musique Haitienne (SRDMH) based in Montreal.
The wonderful music of Haiti's classical composers Claude Dauphin, Emile Desamours, Justin Elie and Ludovic Lamothe.
Music rooted in our folklore but using the classical idiom. These folks are following in the footsteps of Villa-Lobos, Chavez, Lenny Berstein, Aaron Copland and so many Central European composers.
The cassette also offers -- sa se yon gwo degi! -- the delightful music of the Cubans Ignacio Cervantes, Ernesto Lecuona, Manuel Saumell ...
The cassette can be purchased from
2295 Avenue Regent,
Montreal, QC, H42R2
for the modest sum of US $15.00, shipping included.
To date they have produced 4 cassettes of music by various Haitian composers, among them:
I believe Casseus passed away a couple of years back. Casseus was a composer, interpretor and editor, the latter being perhaps his greatest "titre de gloire."
The musicians on this list might comment on that last point.
It is a shame that Haitian governments over the years could not muster the imagination to honor such talents. As Napoleon once said "Give me enough medals and I will win any war."
Frantz Casseus was busy on the American musical scene going back to the early sixties when he was a guitarist in Belafonte's band in Belafonte's heyday.
He probably arranged the piece "Mesi Bondye" which Belafonte made famous in the US in the sixties.
Casseus' finest music is in the cassette "Haitian Suite," performed by Marc Ribot, Music of the World, C-202.
SRDMH can be reached at:SRDMH: ATTN: Dr. Claude Dauphin SRDMH@Hotmail.com
From:John C. Kozyn firstname.lastname@example.org
Twice in less than one week have I been turned on to Haitian classicla composers. I received three days ago a response from Gage Averill regarding questions I had about the classical guitarist Frantz Casseus, whom I first heard on a program this past Sunday. (Several songs were played including "Dance of the Hounsis". I don't think Gage would object if I shared his remarks here (at least I hope not!) :
Averill wrote: Casseus is widely considered the best living classical guitarist of Haitian >origin. He was, I think, living in Montreal, but I heard an interview with him about eight years ago where he was talking about going back to school to study musicology and to write about Haitian music. I don't know if this plan ever materialized.
Hope this is helpful to others...
From:Wesley Madhere Wesley.Madhere@turner.com
Another classical composer along the same line is Fabre Duroseau: Haitian Piano, available on cassette at the Smithsonian Folkways. The price is $10.95 for the cassete plus $5.50 for handling and shipping for 1-10 items. Frantz Casseus' recordings are also available.
From:Gage Averill email@example.com
Wesley Madhere wrote: Another classical composer along the same line is Fabre Duroseau: Haitian Piano, available on cassette at the Smithsonian Folkways. The price is $10.95 for the cassete plus $5.50 for handling and shipping for 1-10 items. Frantz Casseus' recordings are also available.
Just a small caution about Fabre Duroseau's recording. This was made by the anthropologist Harold Courlander during his 1950s era fieldwork on a portable recording device and as a result the recording is far from studio quality. Fab' and his brother (Emmanuel, if memory serves me--I'm in Florida away from my recordings and databases) do some solos and duets for piano and/or violin of parlour meringues of the kind that they played with their father in the small family-based "philharmonic" ensemble he directed. The Duroseau family produced many fine musicians in both "art" music circles and in pop music/konpa (--Richard Duroseau, for example, the popular and influential accordion player for Nemours Jean-Baptiste in the 50s and 60s).