- Christopher T.F. Hanson
(b New Orleans, c1827–9; d Paris, France, 1901). American violinist, composer, and conductor. Born to free colored immigrants from the West Indies, Dédé was raised in a musical household. His first teacher was said to have been his father, a militia bandleader. When presented with a violin, Dédé became a prodigy, studying with both black and white instructors, including Constantin Debergue and Ludovico Gabici. In 1848 Dédé traveled to Mexico to continue his musical training, returning to New Orleans in 1851. The next year he published his first work, a song entitled “Mon pauvre coeur.” By working as a cigar roller, he saved money to travel to Paris, entering the Paris Conservatory in 1857. While at the conservatory he received many medals and honors, studying with Halévy and Jean-Delphin Alard. He also befriended Gounod, a fellow student of Halévy. Dédé began building his career in Paris immediately, publishing several works which he debuted as the conductor of the L’Alcazar Orchestre, a position he held for over twenty years. In the summer of ...