Grave of Jules Riviere, Llandrillo

Grave of Jules RiviereJules Prudence Riviere (d.1900)

Jules Riviere was born in France in 1819. He was a violinist and a bassoonist with the 12th Queen’s Regiment of Light Infantry before moving to London in 1857 where he had a glittering career as a conductor. Arriving in Llandudno in 1887, he formed his own orchestra which performed in the Pier Pavilion.

He was a born showman! He would conduct, seated, with his back to his players. His baton was not only of ivory but encrusted with jewels, and from it dangled a massive tassel. He usually sported a large orchid on his lapel and his velvet jacket was equipped with at least 24 buttonholes for the many floral offerings he was given.

His orchestra achieved fame and he persuaded important artists to come to North Wales. Singer Adelina Patti and the young Henry Wood were enticed here, along with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. Clara Novello-Davies, Ivor Novello’s mother, brought her Royal Welsh Ladies Choir in full national costume.

In 1891 he fell out with the company that ran the Pier Pavilion and left to build his own concert hall. This was the Victoria Palace, opened in 1894, later the Arcadia, in the middle of Llandudno bay. It was intended to be temporary and plans were drawn up for a much larger building that was never erected, probably because of the cost.

In 1900 he was appointed musical director of the newly built Victoria Pier Pavilion in Colwyn Bay. He took his orchestra from Llandudno with him and gave the first performance on 1 June, but it was not to last. He died on 26 December, aged 81. The Riviere Orchestra continued after his death.

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