Brief biographies follow of the nineteen conductors whose recordings of the Grande Messe des morts have been consulted for this survey.
Abravanel, Maurice (de), b. 1903, Thessaloniki, Greece, of Spanish-Portuguese Sephardic descent. Studied in Berlin from 1922, on Busoni's suggestion. Conducted opera in Germany until 1933, then in Paris and Australia. Conductor in US at Metropolitan Opera, 1936-38, and later conducting musical shows on Broadway. Conducted Utah Symphony Orchestra from 1947-79, when heart trouble forced retirement. Wide conducting and recording repertoire, including the introduction of many standard repertoire works to Utah.
Avshalomov, Jacob, b. 1919, Tsingtao, China, to Siberian and American parents. Came to US in 1937, studied with Ernst Toch in Los Angeles, and Bernard Rogers in Rochester NY. Taught at Columbia University, 1946-54. Apparently self-taught in conducting. Also known as composer. Conductor of the Portland (OR) Youth Symphony since 1954.
Barenboim, Daniel, b. 1942, Buenos Aires, Argentina, of Jewish-Ukrainian descent; now Israeli citizen. Earliest studies in Buenos Aires, later in Salzburg: piano with Edwin Fischer, conducting with Igor Markevitch; later in Paris, composition with Nadia Boulanger. Appears regularly with New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, London Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Israel Philharmonic. Also performs as pianist. Wide recording repertoire, including current cycle of Berlioz works for Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft.
Beecham, Sir Thomas, Baronet, b. 1879, St. Helens, Lancs. (near Liverpool), England; d. 1961, London; English. Family was independently wealthy, and subsidized his early career as conductor of symphonic music and opera; he was self-taught. Founded many orchestras, including the Beecham Symphony (1908), London Philharmonic (1932), and the (modern) Royal Philharmonic (1947). Conducted opera at Covent Garden, 1910, also began own opera company. Conducted Seattle (WA) Symphony, 1941-43, and at Metropolitan Opera 1942-44. Known as conductor, pianist, raconteur. Advocate of music of Delius, Sibelius, Berlioz, and Richard Strauss; also known for very personal interpretations of music of Handel and Mozart. As Berliozian, gave many performances of all the principal Berlioz orchestral works, recording many of them. He also gave complete performances of Les troyens over the BBC in 1947.
Bernstein, Leonard, b. 1918, Laurence MA, USA; American. Graduated Harvard, 1939. Studied conducting with Fritz Reiner at Curtis, and with Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood, 1940-41, later becoming Koussevitzky's assistant, 1942. Assistant to Artur Rodzinski at the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York, 1943, and had first great success substituting for Bruno Walter in 1944. Conducted New York City Orchestra, 1945-48, and was musical advisor of Israel Philharmonic, 1948-49. Co-conductor of Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York (now simply New York Philharmonic Orchestra) with Dimitri Mitropoulos, 1957; musical director, 1958-69; laureate conductor, 1969-present. Known as composer, conductor, pianist, writer, television personality, and lecturer. Extraordinarily extensive conducting and recording repertoire. Has recorded several Berlioz works, including Symphonie fantastique three times and Harold en Italie twice.
Büchel, Matthias. NO INFORMATION AVAILABLE.
Chekijian, Hovannes, b. 1929, Stamboul (Istanbul, Constantinople), Turkey, of Armenian descent; now resident in Armenian S.S.R. Earliest studies in Stamboul; conductor of Stamboul Symphonic Orchestra. Graduated from State Conservatory in Stamboul, 1951, continued in conducting class of Jean Fournet at Paris Conservatoire. Conducted State Chapel Choir in Stamboul, was founding director of Operatic Theatre of Stamboul, 1958. Took up residence in Armenian S.S.R., 1961. Best known in Soviet Union as choral conductor, and has performed choral works of Mozart, Verdi, Fauré and Beethoven, as well as Berlioz' GMdm, Te Deum, Roméo et Juliette.
Davis, Sir Colin (Rex), b. 1927, Weybridge, England; English. Began as clarinet player, self-taught as conductor. Assistant conductor, BBC Scottish Orchestra, 1957. Conducted at Sadler's Wells, 1958-64. Chief conductor of BBC Symphony Orchestra, 1967, and musical director of Covent Garden since 1971. Very broad conducting repertoire, fairly extensive recording repertoire. Has been engaged in recording series of Berlioz works for Philips Records, including all of the operas, and has recorded some works (Symphonie fantastique, Béatrice et Bénédict, Harold en Italie) twice,
Fournet, Jean, b. 1913, Rouen, France; French. Studied conducting with Philippe Gaubert at Paris Conservatoire, 1930-36; premier prix in flute in 1932. Debut at Rouen, 1936, appointment there, 1938, and at Marseilles, 1940. Musical director at Opéra-Comique, 1943-57, Dutch Radio Orchestra, 1961, principal conductor Rotterdam Philharmonic, 1968. Conducts much French music. Was first conductor to make essentially-complete recordings of GMdm, La damnation de Faust.
Frémaux, Louis, b. 1921, Aire-sur-Lys, Pas de Calais, France; French. Educated at Paris Conservatoire, premier prix in conducting, 1952. Musical director, Monte Carlo Orchestra, 1956-65, Orchestre Philharmonique Rhone-Alpes, at Lyon, 1968-71, City of Birmingham (England) Symphony, 1969-78, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, 1979-present.
Hollenbach, Theodore, b. 1916, Brooklyn NY; American. Studied at Eastman. Influenced by conducting study with Pierre Monteux. Has conducted Rochester (NY) Civic and Philharmonic Orchestras, l'Orchestre Lamoreux, Choral Arts Society of Washington DC, and Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. Founder and director of Rochester Oratorio Society, 1943-present; also of Rochester Bach Festival and Corning philharmonic Orchestra. Conducted first long-playing recording, and first complete recording, of GMdm.
Maazel, Lorin (Varencove), b. 1930, Neuilly, France; American. Conducted New York Philharmonic at age 9, NBC Symphony Orchestra at age 11; also trained as violinist. Apprentice conductor, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, 1949-51, then toured Europe successfully; was first American to conduct at Bayreuth (Lohengrin, 1960). Artistic director, Deutsche Oper, Berlin, and Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1965. Associate principal conductor, New Philharmonia Orchestra, 1971-72. Musical director, Cleveland Orchestra, 1972-present, but soon to be taking over directorship of the Vienna State Opera.
Mahler, Fritz, b. 1901, Vienna; d. 1973, Winston-Salem NC; Austrian-American. Nephew or cousin of Gustav Mahler. Studied composition in Vienna with Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg, and Anton Webern; musicology with Guido Adler, 1920-24. Conducted at Bad Hall, 1924-26; Vienna Volksoper; Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1930-35. In US, conductor of Erie (PA) Symphony Orchestra, 1947-53; Hartford (CT) Symphony Orchestra, from 1953.
Mitropoulos, Dimitri, b. 1896, Athens, Greece; d. 1960, Milan; Greek-American. Was to be ordained into Eastern Orthodox Church, but instead studied at Athens Odeion Conservatory, gold medal for piano, 1918. Studied with Ferruccio Busoni in Berlin, 1921-24, while working as répétiteur at Staatsoper. Conducted Athens Conservatory Orchestra, 1927-29. Frequent guest conductor in US; conductor, Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, 1937-49; Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York, 1949-58, US citizenship in 1946. Devoted to much contemporary music, especially Berg, Schönberg, Krenek, etc. Wide performing and recording repertoire.
Munch, Charles, b. 1891, Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine; d. 1968, Richmond VA; Alsatian-French. Original spelling of family name was Munch. Studied with Lucien Capet in Paris, 1912. Became French citizen, 1918. Concertmaster, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Wilhelm Furtwängler, 1926-33. Conducting debut, Paris, 1933. Organized Orchestre de la Société Philharmonique, conductor, 1935-38; Société du Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris, 1937. Conductor, Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1949-62. With Serge Baudo, founded l'Orchestre de Paris, 1967. Made numerous Berlioz recordings for RCA and other companies, including no fewer than four of the Symphonie fantastique, and two each of the GMdm and Roméo et Juliette.
Ormandy, Eugene (Jenö Blau), b. 1899, Budapest, Hungary; Hungarian-American. Studied violin with Jenö Hubay. Came to US in 1921, but due to folded concert tour, played in Capitol Theatre Orchestra in New York; took over as conductor, 1924. American citizenship, 1927. Substituted for Arturo Toscanini in Philadelphia, 1931, obtained many other guest engagements. Conductor, Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, 1931-36; Philadelphia Orchestra, 1936-38 (shared with Leopold Stokowski), 1938-80. Extremely wide repertoire in concerts and recordings.
Previn, André (George) (Andreas Ludwig Priwin), b. 1929, Berlin; German-American, American citizen, 1943. Studied with Ernst Toch, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, in Los Angeles, 1951, conducting with Pierre Monteux in San Francisco. Known as jazz pianist, orchestrator, composer, conductor, especially for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Conducting debut with St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in 1963, music director Houston Symphony, 1967-70, London Symphony, 1969-79, now conductor emeritus. Musical director, Pittsburgh Symphony, 1976-present. Very wide repertoire in concerts and recordings. First digital recording, GMdm.
Scherchen, Hermann, b, 1891, Berlin; d. 1966, Florence; German. Self-taught as musician, Violist in Berlin Philharmonic, 1907-10. Worked with Arnold Schönberg in 1911 preparing Pierrot Lunaire, took work on tour of Germany. Conducted Riga Symphony Orchestra, 1914. Founded journal, Melos, 1919. Conducted Leipzig Konzertverein's Grotrian-Steinweg Orchestra, 1921. Musical director for Königsberg Radio, 1928-33. Settled in Switzerland, 1933, became musical director Zurich Radio Orchestra. After World War II, held master classes, Darmstadt. Known as advocate of contemporary music, especially German/Austrian.
Weiss, Donn, b. 1928, Rock Island IL; American. Director, UCLA Men's Glee Club, Madrigal Singers, University Chorus; member UCLA faculty since 1961; has also conducted on major American network television shows.
Copyright © 1983, 1995 by Matthew B. Tepper
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