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96 and 94 rue de Vaugirard
plan of the proposed rue de Rennes

Workshop at No 94-96 rue de Vaugirard "Salle de Concerts Spirituels"

In April 1854, two months after his marriage to Adèle Blanc, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll and his workers moved into the two main buildings separated by a courtyard, of the old Salle de Concerts Spirituels, at No 94-96 rue de Vaugirard. The organ builder remained there till the summer or 1868.

This "Salle de Concerts Spirituels", was built with his own money by François-Xavier Croizier (1808-1887). Intended for the teaching of religious music by this pupil of Choron, it was inaugurated in December 1852 under the name of the "Conservatoire de Musique Religieuse". He received the wholehearted support of the clergy, but failed to gain the confidence of the Government represented by Hippolyte Fortoul, Minister of State and Religious Education, one of whose favoured employees was a certain Hippolyte Blanc, Mr. Cavaillé-Coll's new brother-in-law! The premises were spacious and consisted primarily of a Byzantine hall from the drawings of Mr. Chabouille, the architect, and decorated with painted frescoes by Tournante and Gournet. (Gazette Musicale no 6, January 2, 1853 and Le Menestrel, no 5, January 2 1853).

A political intrigue born of envy was set in motion by Louis Niedermeyer (1802-1861), a naturalised Frenchman of Swiss origin, and an ex-pupil of Moscheles, and Förster in Vienna. He developed a friendship with a knowledgeable lover of singing and music, Joseph Napoleon Ney, Prince of Moskowa (1803-1857), the son of Marshall Ney. They had both made political and financial connections very early in their lives and gained the protection of Mr Thiers due to their ancestry. Since 1828, Joseph Ney had been married to the daughter of Lafitte, the banker, one of Henri Place's partners. The theft of Mr. Croizier's idea to the advantage of Mr. Niedermeyer, was prepared in the halls of power in the order of August 24 1853 instituting the creation of the "Ecole Niedermeyer". The press, in favour of the event, celebrated "The much wished for resurrection of the old music schools, (Mr.Choron and Mr. Croizier's idea) with the added advantage of centralisation and consequently uniting doctrine and teaching. So many good things rolled into one". This school was to find appropriate premises at the Place Pigale in the St. Georges district…thus immediately freeing the ones that had been newly built by the unfortunate Croizier and robbing him of his property to the direct advantage of the Cavaillé-Colls. Hippolyte Blanc's office was responsible for the simultaneous opening of these files leading to the "initiation of a political decision" in favour of his brother-in-law, a favoured beneficiary of the government. Zoning regulations, the pushing through of the Rue de Rennes, and the upheaval in Paris caused by Baron Haussmann led Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, to look for a new location on the avenue du Maine still on the left bank of the Seine. Cécile Cavaillé-Coll describes the best moments in the house at 94-96 rue de Vaugirard for us.

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