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by Poussard and Douay

Horace Remi Poussard (1829-1898) was a French violinist and composer.
Louis Rene Paul Douay (1836-1877)
1862

No manuscripts or music for Poussard and Douay's compositions survives.

Tuesday, 2 April 1862.

HOCKIN'S ASSEMBLY-ROOMS, Elizabeth-street, Melbourne
POUSSARD and DOUAY In their musical poem,
THE EXPIRING EXPLORER

  • Adieu! Farewell to the Metropolis.
  • The Departure.
  • The Trials of the Route.
  • The Prayer.
  • Death of the Australian Heroes.

 

Tuesday, 16 April 1862.

THEATRE ROYAL, Bourke-street, Melbourne

The Great Composition of the Day
THE EXPIRING EXPLORERS
by Poussard and Douay

 

 

Thursday, 6 March 1862.
Page 2.

Poussard and Douay's Concert

On Wednesday evening a great musical treat fell to the lot of the few people who had the good taste to attend the concert given by MM. Ponssard and Douay at the Mechanics' Institute. We shall not at present stay to inquire into the causes which led to the singular paucity of the audience, but for the sake of the reputation of Ballarat give absentees the credit of supposing that they were kept away by considerations of prudence in matters pecuniary, bearing in mind the inevitable and large demands which in other quarters will be made upon them before the week is out.

This is the second visit which these accomplished instrumentalists have paid to Ballarat, and we are glad to find that experience has taught them the propriety of mingling with the lighter portions of their entertainment just the proportion of severer music which is calculated to make it acceptable alike to the mere lounger and the musical connoisseur., The programme included two overtures (neither of them ordinarily performed at concerts of miscellaneous music), "Le lac des Fées," and "Haidee," both by Auber, the brilliant writer of "Fra Diavolo" and "Masaniello." These were given with infinite force and brilliancy, especially considering the numerical deficiency of the band, and the absence of the larger stringed instruments. In order to make some compensation, a powerful-toned pianoforte was pressed into the service. M. Fleury ably led the little band of six performers. We have before, we trust, done full justice to the wonderful mechanical ability and taste displayed by Messrs Poussard and Douay in their performances, whether in solo or duett - whether on the stringed instruments which they particularly affect, or on the pianoforte, which they both touch with musician-like feeling and delicacy. Their "God Save the Queen" with variations, was highly appreciated br the audience, who at this juncture might have more than one motive for appreciating the truly noble old air effectively performed. Not during the whole evening was anything more enjoyable than this fantasia-; tile in struments literally spoke the sentiment of the music, and no one could help noting thc remarkable resemblance which the tones M. Douay brought out of his apparently cumbrous violoncello, bore to the human voice. One of the novelties introduced by M. Donay was what he calls a dramatic fantasia. Its main subject is the air, "The Heart Bowed Down," which was very skilfully varied throughout. M.Toussard achieved a great success with his fantasia on airs from "Il Trovatore," and was vociferously applauded. Encores were a necessary consequence.

In connection with these executants, we shall only mention one more item in the programme - a duett on the violin and violon cello, which they designate "The Expiring Explorer," and dedicated, we have no doubt with the best intentions "to the memory of the Burke and Wills Expedition." The opening passage is tolerably suggestive of the melancholy circumstances which dictated its composition, and satisfied the ear and the imagination. What follows is totally incomprehensible in connection with the subject. Had the composers introduced in the course of their fantasia snatches of familiar airs calculated to lead us to suppose that in their dying moments the heroes of our in terror were passing in review before them the events of past days, and enjoying reminiscences of happier moments, we could have well understood and applauded the device. But when the main subject of the fantasia is the popular and transcendentally bacchanalian air, "We won't go home till morning," we cannot but think they have most woefully missed the mark, neglected an excellent opportunity for the composition of a highly suggestive piece of music, and, worse than all, have positively scandalised the painful sentiment which hangs about the memory of our lost explorers. There is no disguise about the thing - there the rollicking air stands out in all its "universality of diffusion," and, as the air which alone Englishmen seem capable of singing as a body.

Towards the close of the fantasia, the time seems to be accelerated rather than slackened, and the piece closes as if Burke and Wills had given up their last breath with libations in hand. We cannot compliment MM. Poussard and Douay, or their advisers, on this, though we must acknowledge that as a piece of instrumentation the fantasia was admirable. We have scarcely left our selves room to state that the vocal element was not wanting in the concert, as the Misses Royal sang several duetts with considerable sucess. These artistes will re appear this evening, with as altered programme, when we hope to see a larger attendance.

Information from:

"Horace Poussard and Dead Heroes: A Musical Tribute to Burke and Wills"
Peggy Lais, Context, Number 23 (Autumn 2002) pp. 23-32.

In Adelaide, two months later, Poussard and Douay produced an extended version of The Expiring Explorers, naming it Dead Heroes. They had made considerable adjustments to the original work. The new 'Grand Musical Drama' had a more elaborate synopsis of seventeen sections:

  • Preparations for Departure of the Expedition
  • Adieu
  • The Start
  • Songs of the Birds
  • Evening
  • Recollections of Home
  • The Route
  • The Hot Wind
  • The Work
  • Accomplished
  • Leaving Carpentaria
  • Sufferings of the Explorers
  • Hope: Cooper's Creek
  • The Deserted Depot: Despair
  • Approach of Death
  • The Heavenly Music
  • The Prayer
  • The Closed Eyes.

Thursday, 12 June 1862.
Page 12.

Topics of the day

Messrs. Poussard and Douay'a concert, on Wednesday evening, at the Adelaide Assembly Rooms, was scarcely so well attended as some others have been, although the room was more three-fourths full and the audience comprised a huge proportion of the aristocracy.

We shall pass by the first part of the performance, merely saying that all the artistes folly sustained their previous reputation, and were encored in some of the pieces. Mr R B White accompanied on the piano, in the duet between Messrs. Poussard and Douay, 'Mira la Bianca Luna.' He also accompanied them on the first occasion, when the arrival of the English mail prevented our noticing the fact His old friends seemed pleased to see and hear him again.

The second part of the concert consisted entirely of the performance of the piece entitled 'The Dead Heroes,' and we would before attempting to describe it correct an erroneous impression which prevails, that this composition has been previously performed in Melbourne. All that they played in Melbourne was a short piece descriptive of the death of Burke and Wills, but that produced on Wednesday evening was a most elaborate composition, well described as a musical poem, and has been we are assured composed and arranged in Adelaide. It is, as we have before stated, dedicated to our owngreat explorer, J.McDouall Stuart. It commences with music descriptive of the preparations for the departure of the Expedition, and in which variations on 'The Last Rose of Summer' were beautifully introduced, after a rather rattling and noisy performance indicative of the bustle of preparation. 'The Adieu' came next, and was given with tenderness and pathos. 'The Start' followed, and the clatter of hoofs, the confusion of voices, and the rumbling of the wagons could all be readily distinguished; variations on 'Cheer Boys, Cheer' were beautifully introduced in this part. 'The Songs of the Birds' followed, at the approach of the evening, and we need hardly say were given with a minuteness of imitation truly wonderful; from the songs of the birds to 'Evening' the transition was as gentle and pleasing to the ear as that of dissolving views is to the eye. The 'Recollections of Home' followed naturally on the setting in of evening, and 'Home, Sweet Home' was most touchingly played. 'The Route' again renewed the clattering of hoofs and noise of starting afresh. 'The Hot Wind,' as might be supposed, was the most disagreeable part of the whole; now it whistled through the trees and now roared across the plains, and one could almost fancy the glare of the atmosphere and the accompanying dost. 'The Work Accomplished' gave the opportunity for the introduction of 'Rule Britannia' and on leaving Carpentaria, to 'See the Conquering Hero Comes' was appropriately played. The subsequent 'Sufferings of the Explorers,' their sighs, their cries, their low murmurs, their groans of pain and despair were eloquently described. 'Hope on approaching Cooper's Creek' was expressed by a cheerful but not exultant style of music, which gave way to 'Despair on finding the Depot deserted,' and all these feelings were expressed with so much power that no one could fail to understand the meaning of the music. The 'Approach of Death' was solemn and awful; then came 'The Heavenly Music,' and heavenly indeed it was; the effect was magical - enchanting; each one of the audience held his breath for a time. How such sounds could be produced from two instruments like violin and violoncello was a marvel. The tones were soft, sweet, and low, yet the large room was filled with a volume of sound, and the most exquisite harmony, as if proceeding from the "golden harps" themselves, entranced the listeners. 'The Prayer' was low and solemn, scarcely audible. 'The Burden of a Sigh' then followed, 'The Closed Eyes,' when the sounds of the instruments died away so gradually and gently, that it was only when the performers rose that we could be sure they had ceased. The effect was such that even the well-earned applause was delayed, but when it commenced it was crescendoed, and repeated again and again,

Poussard and Douay are in music what Byron was in poetry.

On the return to Adelaide of John McKinlay and his party in October 1862, there was a renewed interest in the fate of Burke and Wills. McKinlay was hailed a hero in Adelaide. Poussard and Douay responded to the development of events with a revival of Dead Heroes in November 1862. Douay composed a harmonium solo, 'Welcome in Honor of McKinlay and Party', and a poem entitled 'Homage to McKinlay,' which was performed in the presence of McKinlay and party on 21 November. The poem, originally written in French, was translated into English verse by Mr R G Wooldridge and recited by Mr G Wood.

Saturday, 22 November 1862.
Page 2.

Last Night's Concert

Messrs. Poussard and Douay had a really crowded room yesterday evening, the excellence of the promised entertainment, and perhaps also the knowledge that Mr McKinlay and some of his party would be present, having attracted an unusually large number of ladies and gentlemen.

The performance was all that could have been desired, with the unfortunate exception of Madame Stuttaford's absence. For this her husband apologized, explaining that the lady was suffering from indisposition, and that her medical attendant had forbidden her leaving home. The other vocalists kindly acted as her substitutes, and the company received the altered programme with good grace.

The Dead Heroes was exquisitely played; and an unexpected novelty was introduced into the third part, Mr G. Wood appearing on the platform, and reading with great efiect the following lines:

Homage composed (impromptu) and dedicated to McKinlay and Party
by Mon. Rene Douay,
and translated (from the French) by R G Wooldridge Esq.

All hail! to you McKinlay! We celebrate your worth;
Accept this tribute of our praise. The nations of the earth
Shall class you 'mongst those heroes, whose name shall aye prevail.
Your name shall be historical - Hail ! valiant hero, hail!


The destiny of Australia at length will lie fulfilled
A hidden and barbaric world, whose plains are yet untilled,
Retaining in its secret heart its gold and treasures rare.
Because McKinlay forward went, and laid those treasures bare.


Advance Australia! is the cry echoed both far and wide.
Eager research - unequalled skill - all obstacles defied,
Until our South Australia in the foremost rank is placed.
And from the wilds of nature all ignorance is chased.


Continue and complete your work until, in years to come,
The flag of freedom is unfurled over the white man's home;
And where, in centuries gone by, the wild man held his sway,
There shall the Briton plant his foot, and all his rule obey.


Ere many years have come and gone, her vast and spacious fields
With golden harvests shall o'erflow, as earth its increase yields;
Cities and towns shall raise their heads, and this shall be their cry-
Advance, advance, Australia, go on to victory.


Could we now, with prophetic glance, the distant day discern,
Should we not see our children from your great example learn
That perseverance brings success - by nothing undeterred.
And shall we not hear McKinlay's name used as a household word?


With aching heart and tearful eye the mournful scene survey
Of those 'Dead Heroes,' Burke and Wills, who in anguish passed away.
As one from an ancient massacre returned with bated breath,
So King alone brought back the news of victory and death.


But why should tears and sorrow cloud the joy experienced now,
As eagerly we place the laurel crown upon your brow?
And whilst that honour now we pay to whom that honour's due,
We cheer for your brave comrades - those comrades bold and true.


Yes, noble-hearted comrades, under McKinlay's rule,
Davis and Middleton and Wylde, and Hodgkinson and Poole;
And Kirby, too - one ne'er forgot - though last, not least, I trow;
Oh, let our cheers assure you that we know your value now.


Our cheers shall be re-echoed by all nations far and wide.
Where the flags of France and England are floating side by side.
Remember we our noble Queen - Napoleon, august and grand;
May the union be eternal 'twixt France and our fathers' land.


This poetical effusion was received with much applause, and M. Douay was loudly called for. He bowed his acknowledgments, and closed the entertainment by performing on the harmonium a solo of his own composition called 'Welcome in honour of McKinlay and party.' This also elicited several rounds of applause, and the company separated after giving three cheers for the explorers.

The final performance of Dead Heroes in South Australia was given on 22 January 1863, coinciding with McDouall Stuart's return to Adelaide. Dead Heroes was in a continual state of revision and it is likely that no two performances of the work were the same.

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