Chapter 7: Deldevez
Deldevez enjoyed the collaboration of an unusually strong inner circle: Charles Lamoureux as second conductor and 1r violon solo, Jules Garcin as principal second violinist and secretary, the distinguished cellist Hippolyte Rabaud as archiviste-caissier, and for a short time Théodore Dubois as chorusmaster. Every member of his first committee was or became an outstanding servant of the Société des Concerts.
With Dubois the association was shortlived. The popular chorusmaster resigned in September 1872, profoundly pained” but overworked as maître de chapelle at the Madeleine; perhaps he also sensed the onset of what proved to be divisive changes in attitude toward the chorus. There was scurrying to prevent the election of the unpopular Adolphe Fétis as his successor: Effectivement il est dorigine belge,” it was complained, and could not be appointed without a change in the statutes. The only other candidate was another outsider, Alexandre Lafitte, choirmaster at St.-Nicolas-des-Champs. The singer Koenig testified in his behalf, assuring Lafittes promise and availability, and he was elected with the strangely non-committal vote of 59 favoring, 49 blank. Dubois would return to the Société des Concerts in 1896 as its president, when he served briefly as interim director of the Conservatoire.
The strongest voice on the committeecertainly the loudestwas that of Charles Lamoureux, Alards successor as concertmaster. Articulate and vociferous, sometimes belligerent, he seethed with new ideas: assigning numbers to each chorus member and every manuscript or printed part, calling for new committees to balance the books and organize the subscribers. He took the lead in promoting the Baroque repertoire that was soon to preoccupy everybody, but became so hot-headed about it as to provoke a crisis. Meanwhile he served a vital role as substitute conductor during the long illnesses of Deldevez, establishing during his apprenticeship the credentials for a major career. He would almost certainly have risen to the podium of the Société des Concerts had he not abandoned it in 1877 on his engagement as conductor at the Opéra and, more significantly still, to cultivate his own chorus-and-orchestra societywhat became the celebrated Concerts Lamoureux.
Jules Garcin was, after his long wait in the ranks of the aspirants, in his tenth year as a sociétaire and second year as secretary; he had some assignment on nearly every committee until his election to succeed Deldevez in 1885. He appeared as soloist on several occasions, including in a violin concerto of his own composition, and in 187475 returned Beethovens Romance in F to the repertoire. Before anyone else in the inner circle, he promoted the music of Bizet and Massenet. But his first recorded proposal, though offered for all the right reasons, was fundamentally misguided: to extend the season with supplementary end-of-year concerts reserved for music of living composersby extension limiting the main season to established repertoire. This very scheme, as it came to be practiced in the 1940s and 1950s, marginalized the contemporary repertoire and divided the public, and was on the whole bad for everyone concerned.