For over 200 years, the city of New Orleans has been home to some of the biggest names in music, including Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, and one composer who eventually ended up back in France. Bonjour, I’m Loki Karuna, and on this edition of Noteworthy you and I will honor a relatively obscure name among Creole composers – M. Edmond Dédé.

Edmond Dédé was born in New Orleans back in 1827, and quite uniquely so, in that he and his family, while Black, had lived free for four generations in an American south that was otherwise plagued by the practice of slavery. Edmond took on the clarinet at an early age, switching later to violin, and eventually focusing on composition and conducting. At age 28 he decided to move to France, where he’d spend the rest of his life, but he never forgot about his family who lived on this side of the pond. Among his correspondence to his American kin was this composition, written for a cousin who lived in Chicago. He even titled the work, Chicago.

Among Edmond Dédé’s other works is a Quasimodo Symphony, a Mephisto Masque, and one called Mon pauvre coeur, or My Poor Heart. Few remembered his legacy in the years following his death in 1901 but thanks to a Google Doodle of him in 2021, Edmond Dede’s work came back to the front, highlighting, once again, the life and work of this most Noteworthy of New Orleans born, Creole composers.

Noteworthy is a production of WDAV classical public radio.