Fonds F0674 - Madeleine Boss Lasserre fonds

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Madeleine Boss Lasserre fonds

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Physical description

0.94 m of textual records
11 photographic prints : b&w and col. ; 25 x 20 cm or smaller

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Name of creator

(5 Oct. 1901 - 17 Aug. 1998)

Biographical history

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.

Custodial history

The records remained in the custody of Madeleine Boss Lasserre until the 1990s, at which time they were gifted to dance historian and scholar of Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Selma Odom. Odom and Lasserre met in 1979 and maintained a close friendship until Lasserre’s death in 1998. During this time, Lasserre aided and encouraged Odom in her Dalcroze research.

Scope and content

Fonds illustrates Madeleine Boss Lasserre’s career and interests as a music educator of children and adults in Toronto, Ontario. Most of the material was created between 1925 and 1977, while Lasserre was actively employed with the Margaret Eaton School and the Toronto Conservatory of Music. A small subset of the records were created outside of this time span. Records include: Dalcroze teaching and demonstration notes and diagrams; correspondence with colleagues and students; material pertaining to general early childhood education; and material related to the administration and promotion of courses in Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Fonds contains notes and notebooks, pamphlets, programmes, correspondence, clippings and scrapbooks, as well as photographs of Lasserre and other members of the Dalcroze and music communities.

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Physical condition

Some materials brittle.

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Selma Odom in 2008.


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  • English
  • French

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No restrictions on access.

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The fonds comprises the following accruals: 2008-048. Further accruals may be expected.

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2015/08/19 C. Falls (Creation)

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  • English


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