Charles-Louis Hanon was born in northern France in the village of Renescure on July 2, 1819. Trained as an organist by a local teacher, it is not known if he received more advanced musical education. At age 27, he moved a short distance east from Renescure to Boulogne-sur-Mer where he lived with his brother François who was also a musician.
Music was never the exclusive focus of Hanon’s life: he was also a devout Roman Catholic, a Third Order Franciscan and a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Given his spirituality, Boulogne-sur-Mer may have been an ideal choice for a home: in addition to its fine churches, the city also contained numerous religious schools and charitable organizations.
It is known from an 1869 article that Hanon was involved with a monastic order called “Les Frères Ignorantins,” also known as “Brothers of the Christian Schools.” Founded in the 17th-century by Saint John Baptist de la Salle, the schools run by the order provide free instruction to poor children. One such school was established in Boulogne-sur-Mer in approximately 1815 by Léon de Chanlaire and Father Benoit Agathon Haffreingue, free music instruction was offered there by 1830.(1)
It may have been for the school and its pupils that Hanon later wrote his Système nouveau.
(1) Le Pas-de-Calais au Dix-Neuvième Siècle (REPESSE-CREPEL, 1900), 68.
This article is reproduced with permission from the authors.