Dumas, Omer

(Joseph) Omer Dumas. Violoneux, composer, b St-Antoine-Abbé, south of Montreal, 1 Apr 1889, d Montreal 9 Jul 1980. He took up the violin in his youth and studied in Montreal after 1907. In 1912 he began playing in a small group for silent films. By this time he had started to compose: his first published piece, Fleurette Valse, appeared in Le Passe-Temps in 1913; it would be recorded by Dumas with his Ménestrels du Québec in the early 1940s. His Danse campagnarde and Le Quadrille de Caraquet. were also published (February 1947) in Le Passe-Temps. Other Dumas compositions appeared in La Lyre - eg, a Romance for violin or cello and piano in September 1928.

Dumas and his Ménestrels, a popular old-time music ensemble of the day, were heard regularly 1938-67 on CBC radio's 'Réveil rural' and performed for other radio series and on TV. They began recording for RCA Victor's Bluebird label in 1940, completing 32 78s by the end of that decade, and they began annual tours of Quebec and New Brunswick in 1942. Their most popular recordings, according to the discographer Gabriel Labbé (who lists Dumas' 78s to 1950 in Pionniers du disque folklorique québécois), were Clog du Lac St-Jean, Le Reel du forgeron, Valse Annette, and La Valse de souvenir.

Personnel of the Ménestrels included Dumas and Eugène Bastien (violins), Jean (double-bassist) Dansereau or Stanley Widman (bass), Americo Funaro (guitar), Armand Gagnier (clarinet), Saturno Gentiletti (accordion), and Ernest Décarie or Léo Le Sieur (piano). Réal Béland and Mariette Vaillant (Dumas's wife) sang with the group, and such noted musicians as the violoneux Albert Bastarache and Isidore Soucy, and the harmonica players Oscar and Edgar Morin, were frequent guests.