Disasters and Calamities, 1840-1867
Le Désert, Le chef-d'oeuvre de Félicien David
1866, 19th century
31 x 23 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Program (3)
Keys to History
A benefit concert, for which the program is shown here, was organized in Montreal in November 1866. The purpose was to raise funds to assist the thousands of families forced out of their homes by a third major fire in Quebec City in scarcely 20 years. The latter devastated the Saint-Roch and Saint-Sauveur faubourgs of Quebec City on October 14, burning 1 837 houses. The relief effort was organized to offer assistance to the victims. Since less than 10% were insured, they had to rely on the solidarity and generosity of their fellow citizens. Enough money was collected to rebuild 1 519 houses.
The work on the program of this benefit concert is Le Désert, a symphonic ode for choir and orchestra by French composer Félicien David, who celebrates the desert, the symbol of eternity, and who is moved to pity by the citizens' misfortunes.
The Disaster Victim's Assistance Committee, formed after the fire of 1866 in Quebec City, also received donations from Canada West, the United States and even Europe.
The concert was held on November 5, 1866, in the presence of the Mayor of Montreal, the Honourable Henry Starnes.
French composer Félicien David, born in 1810, made a name for himself particularly in 1846 with his symphonic ode entitled Le Désert, of oriental inspiration.