Ton Verhiel, musician
saxophonist, composer, historian, teacher

Sax - Stories 3:


Although Marcel Mule did make some jokes on Viard's vibrato, this saxophonist was quite an active musician. He did perform in the world of swing and dance and entertaining music, but he also was one of the first saxophonists to perform also in the classical scene.

Famous is the 1928 recording of the Debussy Rhapsodie with conductor Pierre Coppola. This recording is quite easy to obtain today.

Also his arrangements of classical pieces, especially the Ravel Pièce en forme d'Habanera and Debussy's Fille aux cheveux de lin are still frequently played and recorded. Besides he recorded a lot of light classics and wrote a large method for the instrument.

So reasons enough to have a search after this saxophonist.

Jules Viard did play some time in this orchestra: the Billy Max Stiklen's Orchestra. Interesting that this orchestra could form a complete saxophone orchestra with a sopranino saxophone, a curved soprano saxophone, an alto saxophone, a C tenor or C melody saxophone(!) (probably Billy Max himself), a Bb tenor saxophone, a baritone saxophone and a bass saxophone.

Viard also was the solo saxophonist in the orchestra of the popular Moulin Rouge dance hall, but played in several other swingbands. How he came interested with classical music is not known, but in 1928 he played, I think what can be seen as the first recording of the Rapsodie by Claude Debussy, a work that we saxophonists see as one of the first serious works for the instrument.

It was not the only classsical work Viard performed. On February 19 in 1933 he was the solo saxophonist in the Concerto for soprano voice, alto saxophone, piano and orchestra by Dutch composer Jacques Beers.

Jacques Beers (1902-1947) was a composer, pianist and organist. Following his studies in Amsterdam, he settled in Paris, where he took composition lessons with Jean Huré and Nadia Boulanger. His Concerto, which is dedicated to Marcelle Gerar, is a relatively traditional three movement work in C major. The soprano part is a vocalization. Mme Gerar introduced the concerto with Janine Weill, piano, Jules Viard, saxophone and Roger Désormière conducting the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris at Salle Pleyel.

Viard recorded much more classical pieces, most of them from the lighter, more popular repertoire as Kreisler's Schön Rosmarin and Debussy's Golliwog's Cakewalk.  According to one source there existed a Jules Viard Saxophone Quartet, which recorded at least one time for Pathé.

will be continued