Arthur LeBlanc was born in 1906 in Saint-Anselme, which is now part of Dieppe. His father, a violin maker and instructor, provided him with his first violin and lessons at the age of three. The University of Moncton‘s museum displays two violins crafted by Joseph LeBlanc for his son. By the age of five, Arthur was hailed as a prodigy, and he gave his first concert at the Moncton Opera House when he was 10. He studied at the Séminaire de Québec between 1914 and 1923, receiving financial assistance from clergy members.
Father Pierre-Chrysologue Desrochers and violinist Joseph-Alexandre Gilbert supported LeBlanc’s career, and he gave five public concerts in early 1921. He was one of the first students to enroll at Laval University’s School of Music in 1922. After moving to Boston in 1923, LeBlanc toured New England with singer Désiré Bourque before studying at the New England Conservatory for two years. He also studied in New York with Bernard Sinsheimer.
In 1930, LeBlanc studied at the École normale de Paris on a Quebec government grant, working with Georges Enesco, Maurice Hayot, and Jacques Thibaud. He was a first violinist in the Paris Symphony Orchestra during the 1935-6 season under Pierre Monteux. LeBlanc returned to Canada in 1938, performed with the Concerts symphoniques de Montréal in 1939, and joined the Montreal Symphony Orchestra that same year. He received critical acclaim and signed a significant contract with Columbia Records, eventually giving over 300 recitals in the United States and performing at the White House in 1941 for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
LeBlanc purchased a Guadagnini violin in 1938, which was damaged in an accident in 1941. A public subscription in 1946 enabled him to acquire a 1733 Stradivarius violin called ‘Des Rosiers.’ This violin and another instrument, “the Stanley,” were stolen in 1975 but later recovered.
The Stradivarius was sold to the family of violinist Angèle Dubeau in 1977, and a court case in 1986 confirmed their ownership. In 2013, Dubeau still owned and played the violin, which she named “Arthur.” LeBlanc also owned a Tourte bow that was gifted to Wieniawski by the Austrian emperor.
LeBlanc’s career ended due to illness in the 1960s. In 1982, the Université de Moncton awarded him an honorary doctorate in music. He passed away in 1985. In 1987, a mountain east of Chicoutimi was named in his honor. A string quartet affiliated with the University of Moncton, named after LeBlanc, was established in 1985. With support from various sources, the Quatuor Arthur-LeBlanc was officially formed in 1988 and remained active in 2013.
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