Edmond Dede

(1827 – 1901)

Edmond Dédé was born in New Orleans. His father a professional musician of French West Indian origin, and one of the free blacks in the south of the United States.

Dédé became an outstanding violinist, but worked in a cigar factory by day, and only in orchestras in the evening. He was able to save enough for his passage to Paris. Apart from one short visit, he never returned to the United States.

For many years he was conductor of the Grand Théotre orchestra in Bordeaux. He composed music in many genres, from operetta and ballet to chamber music and popular songs. Though an American influence lingered in his music, it had become modified by his conducting of the French repertoire. The style is traditional mid-19th century, with a most pleasing melodic content, and a skillful use of the orchestra. His son was to succeed him as an instrumentalist and composer. Though famous in France, his music disappeared from the repertoire, and was not rediscovered until the conductor, Richard Rosenberg, found it in the archive of the Bibliothèque National in Paris. The exact extent of his output is not known, but it was large and encompassed operettas, ballets, songs and chamber music. The music found was not in good condition, considerable ‘renovation’ required to bring it to performing standards.