Chapter 8: Garcin, Taffanel,
& Marty (1885–1908),
In fact the first out-of-town appearance was not to Lyon but to the Belgian city of Antwerp, for a concert on 9 April 1907 at the Théâtre Royal: the Egmont overture, dIndys Symphony on a French Mountain Air, the incidental music from Faurés Pelléas et Mélisande, the Bach B-Minor Suite with Hennebains as solo flute, and the Franck D-Minor Symphony. At the outset the musicians thought it a gamble, since Antwerp boasted a sophisticated series of concerts by visiting orchestras and the reputation of having a severe public. The Société des Concerts had never really been measured outside the hallowed hall of the Conservatoire.
No one need have worried. The reception was thunderous, with Hennebains recalled to the stage three times and encoring the Badinerie. The effusive press, though it was of the sort that became standard for road appearances, must have after this first journey been thrilling indeed. Critics praised the orchestras equilibrium, finesse, volume-but-never-noise, the inoubliable pianissimo. Le timbalier même est un virtuose,” wrote one. This orchestra is far the best we have heard,” wrote another, who was apparently the first to coin the term phalanx of virtuosi.” It was a bracing experience for them all, especially in view of the battle to get there. Despite the many imitators they had engendered, despite their tardiness in unveiling their wares away from home, nothing could hide the fundamental lesson: they could properly think of themselves as the best orchestra in the world.
Just over six months later, the orchestra of the Société des Concerts at last made its debut in Lyon, for a concert in the pump room of the casino to benefit a local Jesuit school. The program consisted of the Flying Dutchman overture, the Eroica” symphony, the March of the Three Magi from Liszts Christus, the Haydn symphonie inédite, the Bartered Bride overture, a Bach D-Major Suite, and Lalos Symphonie norvégienne. The program, model for many to follow, proudly listed the members and their affiliations:
COMPOSITION DE LORCHESTRE
Chef: M. Georges Marty, grand prix de Rome, professeur dharmonie au Conservatoire de Paris; second chef: M. Philippe Gaubert, prix de Rome, flûtiste de lOpéra.
Premiers violons: MM. Brun, violon solo, soliste de lOpéra, professeur au Conservatoire; Th. Heymann, violon solo, ex-soliste de lOpéra; Gibier (Opéra); L. Heymann, Mâche, Villaume, Saïller (Opéra); Besnier (Opéra); Loiseau (Opéra); Luqin, Candéla (Opéra); Tourret.
Deuxièmes violons: MM. Tracol (Opéra); Gasser, Gilbert (Opéra); É. Debruille (Opéra); Naëgelin (Opéra); Austruy (Opéra); Leplat (Opéra); Aubert (Opéra); Giry (Opéra); Boffy (Opéra); Chédécal (Opéra); F. Debruille.
Altos: MM. Vieux, solo de lOpéra; Gaillard (Opéra); Seitz (Opéra); Le Métayer (Opéra); Bailly (Opéra); Migard, soliste de lOpéra-Comique; Michaux (Opéra); Marchet (Opéra).
Violoncelles: MM. Papin, solo de lOpéra; Girod, solo de lOpéra-Comique; Gauthier, de lOpéra-Comique; Gurt (Opéra); Alard (Opéra); Dumoulin (Opéra); Fillastre, Barraine (Opéra).
Contrebasses: MM. Martin (Opéra); Bouter (Opéra-Comique); Doucet (Opéra-Comique); Soyer (Opéra); Pickett (Opéra); Nanny, solo de lOpéra-Comique; Gasparini (Opéra); Charron fils (Opéra-Comique).
Flûtes: MM. Hennebains, solo de lOpéra; Lafleurance (Opéra); Gaubert, prix de Rome (Opéra).
Hautbois: MM. Bleuzet, solo de lOpéra; Leclercq, solo de lOpéra-Comique.
Clarinettes: MM. Mimart, professeur au Conservatoire; Lebailly, ex-solo de lOpéra-Comique.
Bassons: MM. Letellier, solo de lOpéra; Jacot (Opéra-Comique); Bourdeau (Opéra); Couppas (Opéra).
Cors: MM. Delgrange (Opéra); Pénable (Opéra); Vialet (Opéra); Reine, solo de lOpéra.
Trompettes: MM. Lachanaud, solo de lOpéra; Fauthoux (Opéra).
Trombones: MM. Allard, professeur au Conservatoire, solo de lOpéra-Comique; Bèle (Opéra); Bilbaut (Opéra).
Timbales: M. Baggers (Opéra-Comique).
Harpe: M. Martenot, solo de lOpéra-Comique; Demarquette.
Cornets: MM. Laforgue (Opéra); Deprimoz (Opéra).
Tuba: M. Brousse (Opéra).
Batterie: M. Truc (Opéra).
The orchestra left Paris at 7:00 on the morning of 26 November 1907, arrived
in Lyon at 5:00, rehearsed, presented the concert, and were on the midnight
train back to Paris, arriving the next morning at 11:00exhausted,
but happy, combien!” The response of the Lyonnais was one of stupefaction,
especially gratifying as the Berlin Philharmonic under Hans Richter, thought
to be the best in Germany, had just passed through, and the Parisians were found
superior. A return engagement was booked for the next season. Members of the
committee were soon making site visits to Geneva and Lille.
Antwerp and Lyon, it was said, rebuilt the soul of the Société des Concerts. Among the players there was a real sense of rebirth: they said they felt the stirring of their old souls, the fire that had once burned within, a new confidence in themselves and in their conductor.
Oui, mes chers collègues,” boasted Heymann, nous remontons!"