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Performing Arts Collection (C156)

Program for the play Tit-Coq (detail), 1948. Performing Arts Collection C156, M2001X.6.9 © McCord Museum

Quebec's cultural renaissance, through the prism of theatre and caricature

"Tit-Coq -

A play in three acts by Gratien Gélinas"

Several months after premiering at the Monument-National, the play Tit-Coq opened at the Gesù theatre on October 5, 1948, destined for success. Many in the audience recognized themselves in the story of this lively, irreverent, yet appealing young man, who embodied the post-war solitude and disillusionment experienced by so many Quebecers.

Following the annual satirical revue Fridolinons, Tit-Coq was another fruitful collaboration between Gratien Gélinas, who many consider the father of modern Quebec theatre, and political cartoonist Robert La Palme, who created numerous scathing depictions of Maurice Duplessis and Quebec during the "Great Darkness." This program, which features La Palme's Cubism-inspired drawing of the young soldier, captures the imagination with its aesthetic qualities. More importantly, it illustrates the cultural and artistic renaissance that had slowly but surely begun in Quebec in 1948.


C156 Performing Arts Collection. - [1816-1989]. - 172 cm of textual records. - 1 audio disc : vinyl.

Scope and Content

This collection documents nearly two centuries of performing arts in Montreal, Canada, the United States and several European countries. It chronicles the cultural activity and artistic trends specific to certain periods, the lives and careers of artists and creators, the productions of companies and troupes, and changing public tastes. The bulk of this corpus is made up of archives covering theatre, music, dance, opera and musicals of all types.

Printed programs (for individual shows, seasons or festivals), tickets, posters and press clippings document several hundred theatrical productions in Montreal, Canada and elsewhere, from 1835 to the late 1970s. The lyric arts (opera and operetta) and other musicals are represented by numerous show programs and tickets, along with souvenir albums from the Société canadienne d'opérette.

The most voluminous series in the collection is the one devoted to music. It contains numerous musical scores in various genres, many of which are compiled into personalized collections. It also has hundreds of programs from concerts presented in Montreal and elsewhere as early as 1831, invitations, tickets, posters, press clippings, periodicals, and theoretical and instructive works.

Although show programs make up the majority of the items in the series devoted to dance, this series also contains invitations, tickets and press clippings, as well as several programs and invitations associated more specifically with dance galas.

Finally, several programs, tickets and press clippings document variety and circus shows, film screenings, and religious and military ceremonies.

Variations in title: Formerly known as the Programs Collection.

Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the collection.

Physical condition: Some documents, particularly the musical scores and printed programs from the 19th century, are fragile and must be handled with care.

Immediate source of acquisition: Among the documents that make up this collection, several are from the original collection of David Ross McCord. Others were donated by collectors: Mrs. P. W. Brodie, Mrs. C. McCormick, Beatrice Pattison, Dr. Minnie Gomery, Geneviève Grenon, Edna Wootan, Dr. A. E. Whitehead, A. H. Coates, Colin McMichael, Susan Alain and Nora Teresa Corley Murchison. Several documents are from unknown sources.

Arrangement: A new classification plan was adopted in 2017 when the Score and Sheet Music (C149) and Programs (C156) collections were combined. This reclassification was designed to create a single thematic collection covering all the performing arts. At the same time, programs from the Susan Alain (C339) and Corley-Murchison (C340) collections were also added.
Language: The documents are in English, French and German. Several documents are bilingual (English and French).

Related groups of records: Several McCord Museum fonds and collections include archives associated with the performing arts, such as the McCord Family Fonds (P001), the Sally Starke Collection (C153), the Edward Ryckman Alexander Fonds (P155), and the Willie Eckstein Fonds (P767).


The collection is divided into the following series, subseries, sub-subseries and files:

  • C156/A Theatre
    • C156/A1 Shows and events
      • C156/A1.1 Programs
        • C156/A1.1,1 Shows presented in Montreal. - [1835-1978]. - 11.5 cm of textual records.
          Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02 - Part 03 - Part 04 - Part 05 - Part 06 - Part 07 - Part 08 - Part 09
        • Scope and Content: This file documents nearly 150 years of theatre in Montreal, through show or event programs, and theatre company season brochures.
          These documents trace the history of companies, performance halls and institutions that have marked both the English and French theatre scenes in Montreal. They chronicle the activities of His (Her) Majesty's Theatre, Théâtre St-Denis, Théâtre National (today Le National) and the Gesù theatre, and those of troupes like Les Compagnons de Saint-Laurent and Instant Theatre.

          Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the file.

          Language: The documents are in English and French.

        • C156/A1.1,2 Shows presented outside Montreal
      • C156/A1.2 Tickets
      • C156/A1.3 Posters
      • C156/A1.4 Press clippings
    • C156/A2 Theory and documentation

  • C156/B Operas, Operettas and Musical
    • C156/B1 Shows and events
    • C156/B2 Theory and documentation. - 1927-1931. - 1.5 cm of textual records.
      Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02
    • Scope and Content: The three souvenir albums in this subseries document the programming and activities of the Société canadienne d'opérette, a Montreal company active during the 1920s and 1930s. They chronicle the popularity of this lyric art form during that era.

      Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the subseries.

      Language: The documents are in French.

  • C156/C Music
    • C156/C1 Works
      • C156/C1.1 Sheet music, loose and in books
        • C156/C1.1,1 Popular songs
        • C156/C1.1,2 Folk songs and patriotic songs. - [1816-1964]. - 7.5 cm of textual records.
          Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02 - Part 03 - Part 04 - Part 05 - Part 06
        • Scope and Content: This file is made up of song collections and sheet music for patriotic, folk and children's songs, and Christmas carols.

          The majority of the compositions feature Canada, its history, specific events, and elements of its industrial landscape. There are pieces like the Victoria Bridge Galop, composed by William Carey, the Grand Trunk Celebration Waltzes, composed by Charles D'Albert, and Welcome to Canada, a song dedicated to the Prince of Wales.

          Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the file.

          Language: The documents are in English and French, but primarily in English.

        • C156/C1.1,3 Classical music
        • C156/C1.1,4 Hymns and anthems
      • C156/C1.2 Personal collections of sheet music
      • C156/C1.3 Song lyrics, loose and in books. - [1935-1967]. - 3.5 cm of textual records.
        Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02
      • Scope and Content: This sub-subseries primarily contains books of songs transcribed by Bernadette Dallaire from 1935 to 1937, but it also includes printed collections.

        Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the sub-subseries.

        Language: The documents are in English and French, but primarily in French.

      • C156/C1.4 Recordings
    • C156/C2 Shows and events
      • C156/C2.1 Programs
        • C156/C2.1,1 Shows presented in Montreal. - [1831-1979]. - 12 cm of textual records.
          Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02 - Part 03 - Part 04 - Part 05 - Part 06 - Part 07 - Part 08 - Part 09
        • Scope and Content: This file documents musical performances presented in Montreal over a period of nearly a century and a half. The bulk of this corpus focusses on concerts featuring classical music, both instrumental and vocal, and sacred music. There are programs from concerts and festivals presented by Montreal companies like the Metropolitan Choral Society and the Société des concerts symphoniques de Montréal (which became the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal), some Italian, British and German companies, and several renowned artists like singer Maurice Knight and pianist André Mathieu. The documents also chronicle the pivotal role that some institutions and performance halls played in the Montreal musical landscape: His (Her) Majesty's Theatre, Théâtre St-Denis, the Montreal Forum, Windsor Hall, the Plateau Auditorium and Victoria Hall in Westmount. Some show programs are attached to season brochures and press clippings.

          Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the file.

          Language: The documents are in English, French and German.

        • C156/C2.1,2 Shows presented outside Montreal
      • C156/C2.2 Invitations and tickets
      • C156/C2.3 Posters
      • C156/C2.4 Press clippings
    • C156/C3 Theory and documentation
    • C156/C4 Personal calendars and diaries

  • C156/D Dance
    • C156/D1 Shows and events
      • C156/D1.1 Show programs
        • C156/D1.1,1 Shows presented in Montreal. - [1929-1989]. - 8 cm of textual records.
          Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02 - Part 03 - Part 04 - Part 05 - Part 06 - Part 07 - Part 08 - Part 09 - Part 10
        • Scope and Content: This file focusses on dance shows and events produced and/or presented in Montreal, through programs, most of which are for ballet performances. Some gala programs are attached to season brochures of dance companies and press clippings. These documents chronicle the productions and tours of renowned dance troupes and artists, including Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, The Royal Ballet, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the Royal Danish Ballet, and the José Greco Dance Company. Once again, Théâtre St-Denis and His (Her) Majesty's Theatre play key roles, as does the Place des Arts (Salle Wilfrid Pelletier), beginning in the 1960s.

          Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the file.

          Language: The documents are in English and French.

        • C156/D1.1,2 Shows presented outside Montreal
      • C156/D1.2 Invitations and tickets
      • C156/D1.3 Dance gala invitations and programs
      • C156/D1.4 Press clippings
    • C156/D2 Theory and documentation

  • C156/E Other Performing Arts

  • C156/F Multidisciplinary Events

 

Last update: August 30, 2017