PANNETON, CHARLES-MARIE (baptized Charles-Marie-Xavier), pianist and music teacher; baptized 15 June 1845 at Montreal, Canada East, son of Charles-Heliodore Panneton, businessman, and Zoë Durondu; d. unmarried on 3 Jan. 1890 at Montreal.
Charles-Marie Panneton received his schooling at the Collège de Joliette, where his family had moved when he was a child. Showing musical talent, he was sent back to Montreal for private lessons with one of the city’s leading music teachers, Paul Letondal. In 1864 his father sent him to Leipzig, Saxony, to study at the conservatory, but he turned back after only three days, bewildered by the strange language. This hasty retreat caused Les Beaux-Arts of Montreal to comment sarcastically: “If he will display as much zeal and energy as a pianist as he has shown in travelling to Leipzig and back, we may predict a brilliant destiny for him, an enormous reputation, and ability without equal in all the Americas.” The following year Panneton left for Paris which he found more congenial than Leipzig. He stayed there until 1874, studying with Antoine-François Marmontel at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique et de Déclamation, with Camille Stamaty (whose pupils included Camille Saint-Saëns and Louis Gottschalk), and a teacher of theory. He frequented concert and opera performances and was a witness to the pro- and anti-Richard Wagner campaigns raging at the time, taking a moderately pro-Wagnerian position. He also gained access to the salons of Gioacchino Rossini, the composer, Charles Durand, dit Carolus-Duran, the painter, and L’Ancien, the violinist. At the time of the Franco-Prussian War, Panneton fled his home in suburban Chaville, Hauts-de-Seine, and went to La Ferté-Bernard, Sarthe. He contracted pleurisy and, on returning to Paris, found that during the siege his furniture and piano had been used as firewood.
Back in Montreal in 1874, Panneton taught music, but his precarious health made it necessary to avoid the Canadian winter and in the fall of 1877 he left for Denver, Colo. Active there as a pianist and teacher, he was for a few months in 1879 the organist at the Roman Catholic church. He returned to Montreal in the spring of 1881 and, because of his frailty, had to limit the number of his pupils; they included the pianist Jean-Baptiste Denys and Joseph Saucier, who was to become an outstanding baritone. During his final illness he moved to the Hôpital Général in Montreal.
His musician friends – including Dominique Ducharme, Arthur Lavigne, and Romain-Octave Pelletier – admired Panneton for the broad education and the discerning taste he had acquired in Paris. He was well read in 17th-century and contemporary literature, he was a gifted amateur painter, and a witty raconteur with a weakness for puns and bon mots. He was too modest, and perhaps too frail, to give concerts. When he played for his friends occasionally, it was to express his admiration for a composition rather than to show off his virtuosity. His playing was praised for its clean touch and purity of style. Panneton is said to have composed ballads, mazurkas, and other piano pieces as well as a patriotic hymn “Rallions-nous” with lyrics by Benjamin Sulte* for the feast of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in 1874; but none of these appear to have been published.
Charles-Marie Panneton was the author of two articles published in the Rev. canadienne: “De la musique religieuse,” 13 (1876): 812–21; 14 (1877): 407–14; “Le Colorado en 1880, suivi de quelques réflexions sur les États-Unis en général,” 17 (1881): 344–54, 458–66, 522–31, 587–95.
ANQ-M, État civil, Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 15 juin 1845. Le Canada musical (Montréal), 4 (1877): 109. P.-B. Migneault, “Feu Charles Marie Panneton,” Le Canada artistique (Montréal), 1 (1890): 34–35. “Nouvelles artistiques canadiennes,” Le Canada musical, 7 (1881): 181. “Originalité d’un futur artiste,” Les Beaux-Arts (Montréal), 2 (1864): 70. Le National (Montréal), 18 janv. 1890. La Presse, 4 janv. 1890. Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colo.), 6 April, 24 June, 3, 17, 31 Aug., 14 Dec. 1879. Dictionnaire biographique des musiciens canadiens (2e éd., Lachine, Qué., 1935). “Nos musiciens,” L’Art musical (Montréal), 2 (1898): 271.