In 1909 he began recording for the Victor Talking Machine Co, and in 1911 he became the company's house cellist, accompanist and arranger. In 1920 he was appointed music director for Victor, a position he shared with Joseph Pasternak until 1931. He was the conductor for recordings by the Victor Concert Band, by the Victor Salon and Symphony Orchestras, by Sousa's Band, and by many Victor solo artists including Mary Garden. His recordings as conductor and cellist are listed in Roll Back the Years. He also played cello obbligatos on records made by such singers as Frances Alda, Enrico Caruso (1917, Sancta Maria by Jean-Baptiste Faure), Mabel Garrison, John McCormack, and Alma Gluck, and piano accompaniments for many Victor artists including his fellow cellist Victor Herbert. Some of these recordings have been re-issued on CD. In 1923 Bourdon began a parallel and equally successful career as music director on NBC radio; he was responsible for 'Cities Service Concerts' (1927-38) and other sponsored series. After leaving the Victor company in 1931 he worked with other recording organizations, including Brunswick, NBC, Thesaurus, and Muzak. He was also a pioneering conductor for the cinema, and participated in the production of Mickey Mouse and Laurel and Hardy films.
On 14 Jan 1935 Bourdon conducted the opening concert of the SCSM at Plateau Hall; the program included his arrangement of Lavallée's Le Papillon. Bourdon returned to conduct the orchestra on subsequent occasions, his programs including Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 (the 'Organ' Symphony) and Poulenc's Concert champêtre, with Léo-Pol Morin as soloist, and also works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner. For the critic Marcel Valois, 'the principal quality of this conductor lay in the relation - that is to say, the balance - between the cultivation and the gift. He was an exemplary musician because he had both authority and discrimination. There was no seeking after personal success, no desire to impose his tastes, only a constant wish to make the voices of the composers heard'. Three of Bourdon's compositions in light style were recorded: Is There a Santa Claus?, Ginger Snaps (T.B. Harms), and Danse bagatelle (Feist), the latter two by the Victor Novelty Orchestra. His Poème élégiaque for cello and orchestra was performed by Roland Leduc in 1943 at the CMM; more recently, it has been recorded by Alain Aubut and the Orchestre métropolitain.
In 1976 the University of Wyoming at Laramie acquired Bourdon's personal papers and documents, and an important collection of sound recordings - records and radio broadcasts.
Author Edward B. Moogk, Gilles Potvin
Valois, Marcel. 'Rosario Bourdon était un musicien exemplaire,' Au carrefour des souvenirs (Montreal 1965)
Potvin, Gilles. 'Rosario Bourdon, 1885-1961,' Aria, vol 8, Spring 1985
Médicis, François de. 'La carrière de Rosario Boudon, violoncelliste, chef d'orchestre et compositeur accompli,' Cahier de la Soc. d'histoire de Longueuil, 20, 1990
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Music Centre
Search the extensive CMC website for Canadian composer biographies and interviews, music scores, online newsletters, audio clips, podcasts, and more. Check out "CentreStreams" to listen to online archived recordings featuring outstanding Canadian composers.
The Virtual Gramophone
An extensive multimedia database that covers the history of recorded music in Canada. Search the site for musician biographies and notes about the early years of sound recording, online audio clips of recordings, podcasts on specific themes, videos, and more. From Library and Archives Canada.