Smith, whose grandfather had settled in France in 1806, was born in London in 1826 during his parents' trip to England. From the age of eight he took lessons at the Paris Conservatory from Pierre Zimmermann , his mother's piano teacher, who was an accomplished amateur musician. From 1844 he lived in Marseille and also studied painting there. He toured Europe, North Africa and India and, on his return to France, took part in the February Revolution of 1848 as a corporal on the Republican side . (In 1868 he was named Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by the French consul in New Orleans for rescuing a wounded comrade during these battles .) In 1856 he was awarded a diploma by Daniel-François-Esprit Auber , the director of the Paris Conservatory in the subjects of harmony and composition.
In the same year Smith went to Canada and initially worked in Montreal for a German painter. After converting to Roman Catholicism in 1857, he married Hermine Leprohon, daughter of the wood sculptor Louis-Xavier Leprohon . From around 1860 he was organist and choirmaster at St Patrick's Church in Montreal and taught at the Sacré-Coeur Convent in Sault-au-Recollet, where Emma Albani was one of his students. His textbook Abécédaire musical , which was written during this period, remained in use in Canadian music education for more than 60 years.
Smith also published articles on music pedagogical topics and edited a magazine with his father-in-law, which however had to be discontinued within a short time. After a stay in the USA (1866 to 1868) he settled in Ottawa. He worked there until 1892 at the Notre Dame Basilica , taught at the Gray Nuns' Convent and the Collège d'Ottawa and founded his own music school. In addition, he worked from 1870 to 1892 as a cartographer and draftsman for the Federal Departments of Agriculture, Railways and Canals . He also wrote articles for various magazines in Ottawa and was briefly co-editor of Le Courrier d'Ottawa .
Smith's compositions - mainly piano and choral works - were mostly occasional works, only his music textbook achieved great fame. In his piece Le Foyer domestique he recorded the melody of a Sanctus by Charles Écuyer and thus saved one of the oldest compositions written in Canada from being forgotten. Smith was a great grandfather of the composer André Prévost .
- Francess G. Halpenny: Dictionary of Canadian Biography , Volume 12, New Edition Springer Science & Business Media, 1990, ISBN 978-0-80203460-1 , pp. 976ff.
- The Canadian Encyclopedia - Gustave Smith
- Library and Archives Canada - Smith, Gustave
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||Canadian organist, composer, painter and music teacher|
|DATE OF BIRTH||February 14, 1826|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||London|
|DATE OF DEATH||February 6, 1896|
|Place of death||Ottawa|