Lasserre, Madeleine Boss, 1901-1998

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Lasserre, Madeleine Boss, 1901-1998

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5 Oct. 1901 - 17 Aug. 1998

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Madeleine Boss Lasserre (5 Oct. 1901 - 17 Aug. 1998) was a music educator and the first teacher of Dalcroze Eurhythmics in Canada. Lasserre was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where she spent her childhood and adolescence. At age eighteen, Lasserre moved to Geneva at the behest of her piano teacher to study under the composer Émile Jaques-Dalcroze, founder of Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Variously known as Dalcroze Eurhythmics, the Dalcroze Method, or simply eurhythmics, the practice utilizes bodily movements and processes—such as walking, clapping, and breathing—to explore and teach musical rhythm. It consists of three main elements: eurhythmics, solfège, and improvisation. Lasserre trained with Jaques-Dalcroze until 1923, at which time she became sufficiently qualified to teach all three elements. In 1924, she emigrated to Canada, initially living with and teaching the child of a wealthy Toronto family. Lasserre married her Swiss compatriot, Henri Lasserre—a wealthy lawyer, amateur cellist, and founder of the Robert Owen Foundation—who taught French at the University of Toronto.

Lasserre began teaching classes in eurhythmics to both adults and children in the Departments of Physical Education and Drama at the Margaret Eaton School in Toronto in 1925. Two years later, she left the school to join the Toronto Conservatory of Music (later the Royal Conservatory of Music), where she taught Dalcroze Eurhythmics for over half a century. In 1928, Lasserre began organizing demonstrations of the Dalcroze Method—performed by students and guest artists—to various groups and associations throughout Toronto and its environs. Soon after, she returned to Geneva to officially complete her Dalcroze training, earning a Dalcroze diploma in 1932. In 1934, Lasserre was approved to grant elementary certificates to her students through the Dalcroze Centre in New York City. Over the course of her career, she taught classes at the University Settlement School of Music, Hart House Theatre, the Women’s Art Association, and various teachers’ and music organizations within Ontario. Her students included pianist Donald Himes, childhood educator Donna Wood, dancer-choreographer Saida Gerrard, and artists Temma Gentles and Tim Jocelyn. In 1977, Lasserre retired from the Royal Conservatory of Music. The Madame Lasserre Dalcroze Pedagogy Scholarship was established at the Conservatory in her honour.

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“Dalcroze Eurhythmics.” In The Canadian Encyclopedia, edited by Davida Aronovitch. Toronto: Historica Foundation, 2013. Accessed August 18, 2015. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/dalcroze-eurhythmics-emc/

Odom, Selma. “Facts & Arguments: Lives lived: Madeleine Boss Lasserre” The Globe and Mail, 6 November 1998, A30.

Odom, Selma. “Traces of a Dalcroze Career: Remembering Madeleine Boss Lasserre.” American Dalcroze Journal 25: 3 (1999): 8-9.

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Lasserre, Henri, 1875-1945 (4 Jul. 1875 - 26 May 1945)

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Odom, Selma Landen

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2015/08/13 C. Falls (Creation)

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