Jonas, Émile (1827-1905)

By Jean-Philippe Amar

Émile Jonas is born in a Jewish family, on the 5th March 1827, in Paris. He enters the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris in 1841 (aged then 14), to study piano, harmony (in the class of Félix Le Couppey) and composition (in the class of Michel Carafa).
He is rewarded with the Second Grand Award of Rome, with his cantata Antonio, in 1849, a year in which no First Prize was rewarded.
Simultaneously to a position of music director of the Imperial Guard (for whom he composes many marches and works for military brassbands), he leads a career of teacher at the Conservatoire de Paris, from 1847 to 1870. He teaches first solfeggio and then composition, from 1859 on.

From 1854 on, he is a cantor, organist and director of choir of the synagogue of Portuguese rite, on Lamartine street. He publishes, on the same year, a collection of Hebrew chants (Anthologie de chants hébreux utilisés aux temples de rite portugais) composed of 24 liturgical pieces for soloists, choir, organ and harp. An extended version is released in 1886, under the title : Recueil de chants hébraïques anciens et modernes pour les temples de rite portugais, accompanied with recommendations of performance and exercises.
His Psalm 130, for pour barytone and choir, will be performed for the inauguration of the Israelite Consistorial Temple of Paris (rue de la Victoire), on the 9th September 1874.
He publishes on the same year a collection of 21 compositions, by various authors, for weddings celebrated in this synagogue ; five years later, a music collection forshabbat is released.

Long-winded composer, he creates about 20 operettas ans shares the stages of Parisian theatres (and then of France and Europe) with the most famous French composers of the second half of the XIXth century (Delibes, Messager, ...). Friend of Offenbach, the latter presents him to best librettists of the time.
In 1867, he takes part in the group in charge of organising the military parades for the Universal Exposition inaugurated by Napoléon III.
Émile Jonas gains recognition and prestige ; he participates in many administration councils of sauthors and composers societies. He spends time with public figures such as Bizet, Gounod, Labiche, Sardou and Alexandre Dumas son. He is rewarded Chevalier and then Officier de la Légion d’Honneur.

Il dies in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, on the 21st of May 1905. He is buried in the cemetary of Montparnasse.

Learn more :
Site Musinem Wikipedia

Purchase the CD Jacques Offenbach and friends - From the synagogue to the opera - online on the EIJM’s shop

Browse our archives on Emile Jonas
Consulter nos collections

You may also like

Jacques Offenbach and friends - From the Synagogue to the Opera

NEW RELEASE AT THE EIJM’S PUBLISHING HOUSE. This CD makes us discover the original Hebrew works of Isaac and Jacques Offenbach, Giacomo Meyerbeer, (…)

Symposium in Hannover : Magnified and Sanctified, The Music of Jewish Prayer II

From the 9th to the 12th September 2019 at the Hannover university (GERMANY), international symposium on Jewish liturgical music. Hervé Roten, (…)

Musica Judaica Symposium : Jewish music between oral and written traditions

On the 14th & 15th of July 2019 in Oxford (ENGLAND) will take place an international symposium in which Hervé Roten, Director of the European (…)

The EIJM’s Gala Concert - 5th edition - From the synagogue to the opera : Jacques Offenbach and friends

Buy your tickets on the online shop Original Hebrew works by Jacques and Isaac Offenbach, Jacques Fromental Halévy, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Jules (…)

Jewish music and cuisine : delicacies and sounds

CONFERENCE held by the EIJM and the CBL, the 20th June 2019 8h45 PM at the Cercle Bernard Lazare (75003). An audiovisual conference by Hervé (…)