64 Parishes

Finding respite in 64 PARISHES during the COVID-19 crisis? Subscribe today to support our mission and contributors.

Marie Theard

Marie Théard (Moses) achieved distinction as a pianist, piano teacher, collector, arranger, and translator of French and French Creole Patois songs of Louisiana.

Marie Theard

Courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection

Marie Théard. Unidentified

Marie Théard (Moses), born on December 14, 1892, in New Orleans, achieved distinction as a pianist, piano teacher, collector, arranger, and translator of French and French Creole patois songs of Louisiana. During her life, she was considered to be an outstanding performer and teacher of the music of classical composers Frédéric Chopin and Louisiana-born Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Théard was the daughter of Marie Delvaille Théard and Alfred Théard, both of whom were members of prominent French Creole families. She was educated in New Orleans, first in French and English at the Canes School, then at Newcomb High School.

Her piano studies began with Madame LaFouche (referred to as “Miss Zelime LaFauste, former sweetheart of Louis Moreau Gottschalk” in family documents) at the Louisiana Conservatory of Music. She later studied with Guiseppe Ferrata, probably around 1918. Her marriage to Edward Moses occurred around that time, for she is listed as Marie Théard Moses at H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College in 1917–1918. She was divorced before 1932, when, as Marie Théard, she was awarded a bachelor of music degree in the first graduating class of the Loyola College of Music.

Le Petit Cercle, the junior music club she founded for her piano pupils and other talented students, was active for more than forty years. Affiliated with the National Federation of Music Clubs, the club may have had a connection with Le Cercle Lyrique, founded in 1911 by French Creoles to preserve and advance “good” (meaning continental) music in New Orleans.

In the 1930s, Théard served as musical director of Les Causeries du Lundi, founded in 1911 to promote the French language and culture; in 1935, she was awarded the French Palmes Academiques from the French order of chivalry for educational and cultural figures and academics. During the same period, she served as historian for the Louisiana Federation of Music Clubs. Her compilation, Old Songs of French and Creole Origin, contains ninety-two selections of popular French and Creole patois songs intended for publication by the federation. Ranging from folk tunes to eighteenth-century works from the “Ursuline Music Manuscript,” the pieces were compiled, arranged, and translated by Théard. A manuscript version of her compilation is held by the Williams Research Center at The Historic New Orleans Collection. Théard died in New Orleans on November 1, 1975.