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Rossini
the poïkilorgue
the poïkilorgue

ROSSINI : "Meeting with the Maestro in Toulouse"


In collaboration with his father and brother, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll invented a "free" reed keyboard instrument: the " Poïkilorgue " which astonished the famous ROSSINI, who was passing through Toulouse, at the performance of "Robert le Diable" the opera by Meyerbeer. The First Night had been in Paris in November 1831 at the Opera, directed by Dr Louis Véron - in association with the banker, Alexandre Aguado, Marquis de Las Marismas, Maestro Rossini's patron - who was its director and financier. The quality of acting and singing of the company, which included the famous tenor, Adolphe Nourrit, could not have been better and was a tribute to the composer, Meyerbeer, a leader in the German school and its head.

At that time several epidemics broke out and cholera was active between 1829 and 1837.It reached the French capital on March 15 1832 and raged for six months killing eighteen thousand people. The "Journal de Débats" announced on March 28 that "cholera morbus is within our walls" but at the same time reassured its bourgeois clientele that the epidemic only attacked the lower classes. When the death of the then Minister of the Interior, Casimir Périer, a Paris deputy and member of the liberal opposition, was announced, there was a general panic throughout all levels of society! The Opera company fled the capital then. It ended up in the provinces, in Toulouse, where it performed on September 28 1832. Maestro Rossini and his patron, the Marquis de Las Marismas, followed it. The famous meeting with Cavaillé-Coll dates from that day.

Cholera was therefore the fortuitous reason for the rise of the young Aristide Cavaillé-Coll whom Prefect Barennes introduced, thanks to that performance on the stage of the Capitole, in the presence of Rossini. He heard Cavaillé-Coll's "Poïkilorgue" accompanied by the singers. The "free" reed instrument of Cavaillé-Coll Père &Fils benefited from that bit of luck and was inaugurated on March 7 1833 before a committee of competent friends chosen by Dominique Cavaillé-Coll, his father. Prefect Barennes was chairman and they met again on August 3 to judge the "Piano-poïkilorgue" model - derived from the basic principle - which consisted of an addition of an "expressive" "free" reed stop (oboe) which acted on the last three octaves of the grand piano lent for that purpose by Mr. Charles Ponsan, organist of the La Dalbade

Aristide Cavaillé-Coll set out for the capital the following year after the threat of cholera faded at the end of 1832. He "went up to Paris" with his circular saw, his poïkilorgue and his piano- poïkilorgue as baggage and references. In the interim he had developed his relationship with Mr. Boisgiraud and Mr. Borrel. He could finally win over the Academies and be introduced with letters of reference.

The initiatory journey to Paris took shape and on September 21 1833, his arrival at No 11 Quai Voltaire, was reported.

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