Charles Cros

Charles Cros or Émile-Hortensius-Charles Cros (October 1, 1842 – August 9, 1888) was a French poet and inventor. He was born in Fabrezan, Aude, France, 35 km to the East of Carcassonne.

Cros was a well-regarded poet and humorous writer. As an inventor, he was interested in the fields of transmitting graphics by telegraph and making photographs in color, but he is perhaps best known for being the first person to conceive a method for reproducing recorded sound, an invention he named the Paleophone.

Charles Cros died in Paris at the age of 45.

Charles Cros
Charles Cros
Charles Cros
BornOctober 1, 1842
Died9 August 1888 (aged 45)
Known forpoetry
Paleophone sound reproduction
color photography methods
fax transmission methods


In 1860 Cros began studies in medicine, but he soon abandoned them for a life of literary and scientific pursuits. In 1869 he published a theory of color photography in which he proposed that a single scene could be photographed through glass filters colored green, violet, and orange.[1] The three negatives obtained through those filters could be developed to produce positive impressions that contained varying amounts of red, yellow, and blue (the "antichromatic" or complementary colors of the filters). The three positive impressions, when superimposed on one another (for instance, by making three carbon prints using sufficiently transparent pigments, then transferring the pigmented gelatin onto a single support sheet) would recompose the original colors of the photographed scene. Cros's proposals, which anticipated the subtractive method of modern photography, were similar to more influential ideas advanced about the same time by Louis Ducos du Hauron.[2] The same day, May 7, 1869, Charles Cros and Louis Ducos du Hauron presented their method of creating color photographs to the French Society of Photography. They had not been in communication beforehand and each knew nothing about the other's research. Cros ended up conceding the invention to Ducos Du Hauron, despite having deposited a sealed paper at the French Academy of Sciences on December 2, 1867. Ducos du Hauron had patented his ideas on November 28, 1868, almost a full year later,[3] but claimed to have written an unpublished paper on the subject in 1862.

Cros is perhaps most famous as the man who almost, but not quite, invented the phonograph. As far as is known, no one before him had thought of a practical way to reproduce sound from a recording of airborne sound waves. He gave the Greek name 'Paleophone' ('voix du passé', tr. 'voice of the past') to his invention. On April 30, 1877 he submitted a sealed envelope containing a letter to the Academy of Sciences in Paris explaining his proposed method. The letter stated in French, "Un index léger est solidaire du centre de figure d'une membrane vibrante ; il se termine par une pointe [...] qui repose sur une surface noircie à la flamme." The English translation is one close to this: "A lightweight armature is fixed to the center of the face of a vibrating membrane; it ends with a sharp point [...] which rests on a lamp-blacked surface." This surface is integral with a disc driven by a double movement of rotation and linear progression. The system is reversible: when the tip follows the furrow the membrane restores the original acoustic signal. The letter was read in public on December 3 following. In his letter, after having shown that his method consisted of detecting an oscillation of a membrane and using the tracing to reproduce the oscillation with respect to its duration and intensity, Cros added that a cylindrical form for the receiving apparatus seemed to him to be the most practical, as it allowed for the graphic inscription of the vibrations by means of a very fine-threaded screw. An article on the Paleophone was published in "la semaine du Clergé" on October 10, 1877, written by l'Abbé Leblanc. Cros proposed metal for both engraving tool attached to the diaphragm and receiving material for durability.

Before Cros had a chance to follow up on this idea or attempt to construct a working model, Thomas Alva Edison introduced his first working phonograph in the US. Edison used a cylinder covered in tinfoil for his first phonograph, patenting this method for reproducing sound on January 15, 1878. Edison and Cros apparently did not know of each other's work in advance.

Cros was convinced that pinpoints of light observed on Mars and Venus, probably high clouds illuminated by the sun, were the lights of large cities on those planets. He spent years petitioning the French government to build a giant mirror that could be used to communicate with the Martians and Venusians by burning giant lines on the deserts of those planets. He was never convinced that the Martians were not a proven fact, nor that the mirror he wanted was technically impossible to build.[4]


In the early 1870s Cros had published with Mallarmé, Villiers and Verlaine in the short-lived weekly Renaissance littéraire et artistique, edited by Emile Blémont.

His poem The Kippered Herring inspired Ernest Coquelin to create what he called monologues, short theatrical pieces whose format was copied by numerous imitators.The piece, translated as The Salt Herring, was translated and illustrated by Edward Gorey.




  • Le Coffret de santal (1873 and 1879)
  • Plainte (1873)
  • Le Fleuve (1874)
  • La Vision du Grand Canal des Deux Mers (1888)
  • Le Collier de griffes (posthumous, 1908)

English translations published in the United States

  • Charles Cros: Collected Monologues Translated by Doug Skinner (Black Scat Books, ISBN 978-1732350625, 2018)
  • Upside-Down Stories Translated by Doug Skinner (Black Scat Books, ISBN 978-1732350687, 2019)


L'Académie Charles Cros, the French equivalent of the US Recording Academy, is named in his honor.

Cros was a member of the group known as the hydropathes which existed around the period 1878–1881. Charles Cros, played by Christopher Chaplin, appears in the film Total Eclipse, about the lives of Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud. Cros is seen for a few seconds at the Le Chat Noir in Paris, a café which opened in 1881 and had become the home for the avant-garde art scene of the time.

Marie Corelli published one of his poems posthumously in the text of her 1890s' book, Wormwood, with a special note of respect to the recently deceased author.

Cros was also the brother of Antoine-Hippolyte Cros (1833-1903), who was King of Araucania and Patagonia from March 6, 1902 until November 1, 1903,[5] and the uncle of Laure-Therese Cros (1856-1916), who as the Queen of Araucania and Patagonia from November 1, 1903 until February 12, 1916.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Cros, Charles (1869). Solution générale du problème de la photographie des couleurs. Gauthier-Villars, Paris. (12-page pamphlet, in French). Accessed November 3, 2015. In keeping with the then-current erroneous Brewster theory of primary colors, both Cros and Ducos du Hauron initially proposed photographing through red, yellow and blue filters. However, Cros ultimately (see p. 10: "En pratique, il sera probablement meilleur ...") leads himself to the unusual but workable set of green, orange and violet for the filter colors by his principle of printing in the complementary ("antichromatique") colors and the desirability of using red, yellow and blue, rather than green, orange and violet, for the printing. In one footnote (p. 4), Cros makes what is apparently the first-ever suggestion that the spectral sensitivity of photographic materials might be improved by the addition of coloring matter that absorbs the colors to which the material is inadequately sensitive, thus anticipating Vogel's discovery of dye sensitization by several years.
  2. ^ Luminous Lint
  3. ^ Musée Charles Cros, Fabrezan Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Ley, Willy. Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel (revised). New York: The Viking Press 1958
  5. ^
  6. ^

External links

Académie Charles Cros

The Académie Charles Cros, (Charles Cros Academy) is an organization located in Chézy-sur-Marne, France, that acts as an intermediary between government cultural policy makers and professionals in music and the recording industry.

The academy is composed of fifty members specializing in music criticism, sound recording, and culture. It was founded in 1947 by Roger Vincent with Armand Panigel, José Bruyr, Antoine Goléa, Franck Ténot, and Pierre Brive – critics and recording specialists - and led by musicologist Marc Pincherle. It was named in honor of Charles Cros (1842–1888), inventor and poet (friend of Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine) who was one of the pioneers of sound recording.

The academy continues to stay abreast of advances in technology, from the development of 78 RPM gramophone records to CDs, DVDs, playable torrents and all other readable, transportable music formats available today.

Chanson perpétuelle

The "Chanson perpétuelle", Op. 37 is a mélodie by Ernest Chausson, written in December 1898. It is one of the major vocal-orchestral works of Chausson, along with the Poème de l'amour et de la mer. Besides the better-known version for soprano and orchestra, Chausson also wrote a version for soprano, piano and string quartet. The text comes from a poem by Charles Cros, describing the suffering of an abandoned woman.

It is the last completed work by Chausson, as he left his String Quartet, Op. 35, unfinished. The work was dedicated to the singer Jeanne Raunay, who gave the premiere on January 28 or 29, 1899. Half a year later, Chausson himself died in an accident. The score was not published until 1911.

A performance of the Chanson lasts about six or seven minutes.

Claudio Scimone

Claudio Scimone (23 December 1934 – 6 September 2018) was an Italian conductor.

He was born in Padua, Italy and studied conducting with Dmitri Mitropoulos and Franco Ferrara. He established an international reputation as a conductor, as well as a composer. He revived many baroque and renaissance works. His discography includes over 150 titles, and he won numerous prizes, including the Grand Prix du Disque of the Académie Charles Cros.

Claudio Scimone was the founder of I Solisti Veneti (the ensemble with which most of his recordings have been made) and at the time of his death was the honorary conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon, Portugal.With the Philharmonia of London, he conducted the first recording of Muzio Clementi’s Symphonies.Scimone led the world to discover the importance of Vivaldi’s theatrical works, beginning with the first modern performance of Orlando furioso, featuring Marilyn Horne and Victoria de Los Angeles.In the reborn Fenice Claudio Scimone directed the first modern revival of the Venetian version of Maometto secondo by Rossini.

He also gave the modern premieres of Moses in Egypt and Oedipus at Colonus by Rossini, and The Last Judgement by Salieri.

Claudio Scimone was awarded the title of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (the highest ranking honour of the Republic). He was also awarded an honorary law degree from the University of Padua.

Clémence Isaure

Clémence Isaure is a quasi-legendary medieval figure credited with founding or restoring the Acadèmia dels Jòcs Florals or Academy of the Floral Games. She is supposed to have left a legacy to fund awards in the form of gold and silver flowers that the city would award annually to the best poets.

As the mythic founder of the games she is celebrated principally in Toulouse, where poems, sculptures, and paintings have been dedicated to her and a variety of places and institutions bear her name. In order to provide her with a realistic outline, she has been identified as a member of the Yzalguier family of Toulouse. In 1806 the rue des Yzalguier there was renamed the rue Clémence-Isaure. A tower at 7 de la rue Cujas was named the Tour Clémence Isaure. (It was demolished in 1817.)For example, Charles Cros wrote in 1888:

Toulouse! ville antique où fleurissent encorePour les poètes, vos fleurs d’or, Clémence Isaure

Toulouse! ancient city where flourish still

For poets your golden flowers, Clémence Isaure

Comme à la radio

Comme à la radio is the fourth album by experimental French singer Brigitte Fontaine, recorded with Areski Belkacem (in their first collaboration) and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. It was released in 1969 on the Saravah label after a series of concerts in 1969. It is Fontaine's most famous album, and is known outside of France on the 90's alt-rock scene, thanks to laudatory comments from Beck Hansen, or Sonic Youth among others.The album received the Grand Prix du Disque of the Académie Charles Cros that same year. The single "Comme à la radio" has been covered by Japanese artist Jun Togawa in 2000.

Concerto Italiano

Concerto Italiano is an Italian early music ensemble well known for their interpretations of Monteverdi and Vivaldi, among others.

The historically informed performance ensemble was formed by the harpsichordist Rinaldo Alessandrini, and made its Rome debut with Francesco Cavalli's La Calisto in 1984. Since then, Concerto Italiano has recorded Monteverdi madrigals, which have won numerous awards, including the Gramophone Award three times. Other major international awards garnered by this ensemble include Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Prix de la Nouivelle Académie du disque, Premio internationale del disco Antonio Vivaldi (Cini Foundation), and the Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros.

Concerto Italiano is under exclusive contract with OPUS 111, which is now under the umbrella of the large French label, Naïve. Most recently, with conjunction with the National University Library in Turin, Concerto Italiano has been recording all the operas and concertos of Vivaldi, many of which have not been performed for over 300 years. Highlights include Concerto Italiano's recordings of the opera L'Olimpiade, La Senna Festeggiante, Le Quattro Stagioni (hailed as one of the best versions of the work by Gramophone), Vespri Solenni per la Festa dell'Assunzione di Maria Vergine (a reconstruction of a possible Vespers for the Ascension of the Virgin Mary and 2004 Gramophone winner for Baroque Vocal), and in 2004, an entire CD devoted to Vivaldi's Concerti per Archi.

Erik Karol

Érik Karol (born 15 March 1963) is a French singer author & composer.

He received the Charles Cros Academy Award and another as the Best Single of the Year at the Festival International d'Expression Française in Bordeaux for his single Partirin 1988.

Karol joined the French-Canadian Company Cirque du Soleil in 1999 and was the original singer and main character for their show, Dralion.


Fabrezan (Languedocien: Fabresan) is a commune in the Aude department in southern France.

François Deguelt

François Deguelt (born Louis Deghelt, 4 December 1932 – 22 January 2014) was a French singer, best known for his participation on behalf of Monaco in the Eurovision Song Contests of 1960 and 1962.

Deguelt gave up his studies to become a cabaret singer in Paris in the early 1950s. In 1956, he was the winner of the Grand Prix du Disque of the Académie Charles Cros. Following a period of military service in Algeria, Deguelt returned to France, and was offered the chance in 1960 to sing for Monaco in the fifth Eurovision Song Contest, held in London on 29 March. Deguelt's song "Ce soir-là" ("That Night") proved popular with the juries, finishing in third place of the 13 entrants.Deguelt returned to Eurovision, again representing Monaco, in 1962 with the song "Dis rien" ("Say Nothing"). This contest took place on 18 March in Luxembourg City, where he went one better by finishing second of 16 participants. Deguelt is one of five acts in Eurovision history (alongside Cliff Richard, Katja Ebstein, Chiara Siracusa and Zeljko Joksimovic) to have finished second and third without having won.

Deguelt's later successful singles included "Le Ciel, le soleil et la mer" (1965), "Le printemps" (1966), "Minuit, le vent, la nuit" (1968) and "La libération" (1968). He continued to tour and perform on the nostalgia circuit throughout the Francophone world until his death. He died at the age of 81 on 22 January 2014.

Grand Prix du Disque

The Grand Prix du Disque is the premier French award for musical recordings. The award was inaugurated by Académie Charles Cros in 1948 and offers prizes in various categories. The categories vary from year to year, and multiple awards are often made in any one category in the same year. Awards are made in the following categories:

Ancient Music

Baroque Music


Chamber Music

Choral Music

First Recital

French Song

Instrumental and Symphonic Music

Instrumental Soloist (new talent)


Lyric Music

Modern Music


Recordings for Children

Vocal Soloist (new talent)

World Music

Grand Prix du Disque for Blues

The Grand Prix du Disque for Blues is awarded by l'Académie Charles Cros.

Grand Prix du Disque for World Music

The daf BAMA MUSIC AWARDS is an international multicultural music award show presented by Daf Entertainment based in Hamburg, Germany. It has been created to honor artists from all over the world and at the same time unite the world with something as beautiful as music.This award shall immortalize creativity, unity and enjoyment among the global music lovers until the end of time.

Le Parnasse contemporain

Le Parnasse contemporain ("The Contemporary Parnassus", e.g., the contemporary poetry scene) is composed of three volumes of poetry collections, published in 1866, 1871 and 1876 by the editor Alphonse Lemerre, which included a hundred French poets, such as Leconte de Lisle, Théodore de Banville, Heredia, Gautier, Catulle Mendès, Baudelaire, Sully Prudhomme, Mallarmé, François Coppée, Charles Cros, Léon Dierx, Louis Ménard, Verlaine, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam and Anatole France.

The mid/late 19th century French literary movement Parnassianism took its name from the poetry collection.

The first volume contained les Épaves and Nouvelles Fleurs du mal by Baudelaire, and early Mallarmé and Verlaine, avante-garde poets of the time. No poem by Arthur Rimbaud was included in any of the three volumes. Rimbaud is known to have read the first collection at a time when he was developing his poetry (sometime between 1866 and 1870). In a letter dated May 15, 1871 Rimbaud mentions by name dozens of poets who were included, referring to some of them as "idiots", "imbeciles", "schoolboys" et cetera. In that letter Rimbaud praises Charles Baudelaire, Theophile Gautier, Theodore de Banville, Leconte de Lisle, Albert Merat, and Paul Verlaine. He does not mention Mallarmé, who had 11 poems published in the 1866 collection.

Pierre Lapointe

Pierre Lapointe (born May 23, 1981) is a Canadian singer-songwriter. His work largely follows in the tradition of French chanson, though he is influenced by modern pop music. Defining himself as a "popular singer", he has built an egocentric persona of a dandy onstage, but says he does this mostly to deflect attention from himself. His records have found critical and commercial success in Canada.


Timewind is the fifth album by Klaus Schulze. It was originally released in 1975, and in 2006 was the twenty-second Schulze album reissued by Revisited Records. It is Schulze's first solo album to use a sequencer.

For many years this was his only work available in the United States and was therefore rated higher by American listeners than 1977's Mirage or X of the following year. It was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque (Grand Prize for Records) of L'Académie Charles Cros.


The Zutistes or the Circle of Poets Zutiques was an informal group of French poets, painters and musicians who met at the Hôtel des Étrangers, at the corner of rue Racine and rue de l'École-de -Medicine, in Paris from September to October 1871.

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