Ernest Gagnon


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(1834–1915). Gagnon received a classical studies education at Joliette College, then studied music in Montreal and Paris. During his European travels, he met some leading musicians of the day, including Rossini and Verdi. He spent his professional life in Quebec City, where he was organist at the basilica and music teacher at the école normale Laval, the Petit Séminaire de Québec, and for the Ursulines. From 1903, he was a civil servant with the Quebec government. A virtuoso organist and a composer, Gagnon is also remembered for his folk-song collection Les Chansons populaires du Canada, first published in the mid-1860s. His historical writings include a biography of the 17th-century explorer Louis Jolliet. Gagnon played a crucial organizational role in the composition of ‘O Canada’ by Calixa Lavallée (words by Adolphe Routhier) in 1880, and introduced into North America ‘Minuit Chrétien’—‘O Holy Night’—by French composer Adolphe Adam.

From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: History of the Americas.

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