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François-Michel Samuel Snaër

Samuel Snaer was a respected composer and musician in nineteenth century New Orleans.

François-Michel Samuel Snaër

Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum

St. Mary's Catholic Church. Teunisson, John N. (photographer)

Musician, conductor, and composer Samuel (François-Michel Samuel) Snaër was born in New Orleans of Haitian descent. Highly regarded as a pianist and violinist, he served as organist of St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Chartres Street, adjacent to the Ursuline Convent. His Mass for Three Voices was published in James Trotter’s Music and Some Highly Musical People (1878), the first history of music in the United States. He published three works with Louis Grunewald (Rapelle toi, Romance pour voix de Ténor; Le Chant du Deporté, Mélodie pour vois de baryton; and Sous sa fenêtre). He was a contemporary of composer Edmond Dédé, another free Creole of color born in New Orleans. Snaër conducted the first New Orleans performance of Dédé’s Quasimodo Symphony on May 10, 1865, before an audience of prominent African American and white citizens. Snaër died in New Orleans in 1900.