Restricted to girls and women during its first 40 years, the École normale de musique began admitting boys and men in 1966. It was affiliated 1926-67 with the University of Montreal. From 1969 until 1976 (when it ceased to exist as a private institution), it gave university-level music courses under a contractual agreement with UQAM, the university conducting the examinations and issuing the degrees.
The school was directed 1926-30 by Sister Saint-Édouard-Martyr and 1930-42 by Sister Sainte-Cécile-des-Ange (both teachers of piano), 1942-54 by Sister Charlotte Cadoret, 1954-7 by Sister Saint-Roméo, and 1957-76 by Sister Marcelle Corneille.
The school's first three teaching diplomas were granted in June 1927 to Charlotte Cadoret, Eileen Gillis, and Jeanne Turcotte. Instruction in organ began ca 1930. Among the members of the teaching staff over the years were: Françoise Aubut, Eugène Lapierre, and Lucienne L'Heureux-Arel (organ); Alexander Brott (conducting); Claude Champagne (solfège, harmony); Albert Cornellier, France Dion, Roger Filiatrault, Sister Louis-Raymond, Jean Riddez, and Micheline Tessier (singing); André Gagnon (keyboard harmony); Henri Garrouteigt (Gregorian chant); Luis Grinhauz, Stephen Kondaks, and Maurice Onderet (violin); Jean Leduc, E. Robert Schmitz, and William Stevens (piano); Pierre Mollet (performance); Antoine Padilla (musical literature); Frédéric Pelletier (history of music); and Michel Perrault (harmony).
The École normale de musique was divided into three sections.
The first section, a conservatory operation for young students, reported to the Congregation's Board of Music Studies and consisted of five two-year stages, each leading to a certificate. The program encompassed theory, harmony, solfège, instrumental or vocal technique, sight-reading, music dictation, and performance. The student could complete the music major at the same time as her academic grade 11 and be admitted to the baccalauréat or, later to the college-level course with specialization in music.
The second section, a college-conservatory for more advanced students, gave professional training corresponding to university degrees. Thus the four-year B MUS provided for the obtaining of the teaching diploma after the second year. The L MUS was replaced by the M MUS instrumental (reduced to one year) after the faculty of music of the University of Montreal was created in 1950. (Beginning in 1967, the pupils at the Cegep level specializing in music also belonged to this section.)
The third section was a school-music-teacher-training centre designed to equip prospective teachers with pre-school, elementary school, and secondary school pedagogical skills. The BES (music option A and B), granted by Quebec's Ministry of Education, was introduced in 1964.
Sister Marcelle Corneille took a keen interest in new music teaching methods, and in 1954 she organized practical classes reflecting this interest at the nursery school level. The École normale de musique established in 1954 a specialized music option for kindergarten teachers at the École normale of the Institut pédagogique. Retraining and refresher courses in music pedagogy (taught by Jacques Chailley, Marcel Corneloup, Marguerite Croptier, Maurice Martenot, Jacquotte Ribière-Raverlat, and others) were given 1964-75 to the practising teacher who wished to obtain a university degree or the BES. Sister Corneille continued to organize summer sessions 1974-80 with Marcel Corneloup for teachers of the elementary grades. Guy Fouquet, Davis Joachim, Chantal Juillet, Louise Laplante, Yolande Lemarier-Catrice, and Louis Lortie are among those who studied at the École normale de musique, which enrolled more than 600 pupils per year in the last few years of its existence.
The Ensemble vocal de l'École normale de musique was founded in 1954 and conducted 1954-60 by Ria Lenssens. Until 1960 the group consisted of about 30 female voices. Sister Thérèse Boucher played an active role 1955-68 as director or assistant director. Among the other conductors were Roland Leduc 1960-2, William Tortolano 1962-4, and Alexander Brott 1964-76 (assisted by Sister Jacqueline Nault 1968-76). In 1964 it was a mixed choir of some 160 voices. The ensemble obtained the lieutenant-governor's silver medal at the Quebec Music Festivals in 1961. It performed at the Pro Musica Society that year, the Sarah Fischer Concerts in 1964, 1965, and 1970, and on the CBC TV program 'Let's Talk Music' in 1969 and 1970. The group also performed at Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral in Beethoven's Christ on the Mount of Olives in 1970, Mozart's Requiem in 1971, and Haydn's The Creation in 1973; at the PDA in Vaughan Williams' Flos Campi in 1973; and several times at Notre-Dame Church, notably in Verdi's Requiem in 1975. It made two LPs: Chants à la Vierge with the Choeur Pie X conducted by Clément Morin (1959, MRC 1001) and Folklore du Québec under the direction of Claude Champagne (1960, MB 7899-7900). The group ceased its activities in 1976.
The Opera Workshop, founded and directed by Micheline Tessier, presented 1967-71 several works, including Chabrier's L'Étoile, Delibes's Le Serpent à plumes, Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, Roussel's Le Testament de tante Caroline, and Schubert's La Croisade des dames (Die Verschworenen).
In September 1976, after 50 years of professional and pedagogical training of teachers, the École normale de musique was integrated in UQAM as the Module de musique. Subsequently it also became the preparatory music school of UQAM for grades leading to college and university, under the direction of Sister Marcelle Corneille, and the music department of Marguerite-Bourgeoys College (Cegep section), with Micheline Tessier as director until it closed in 1983. The preparatory school has continued the annual piano competition, which began in 1935, and has attracted students from all parts of Quebec.
Author Suzanne Thomas
Lambert, Thérèse. L'Histoire de la Congrégation de Notre Dame de Montréal, 1900-50, vol 11 (Montreal 1974)