Georges Prêtre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Georges Prêtre (French pronunciation: ​[ʒɔʁʒ pʁɛːtʁ]; born 14 August 1924) is a French orchestral and opera conductor.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Waziers (Nord), and attended the Douai Conservatory and then studied harmony under Maurice Duruflé and conducting under André Cluytens among others at the Conservatoire de Paris. Amongst his early musical interests were jazz and trumpet. After graduating, he conducted in a number of small French opera houses sometimes under the pseudonym Georges Dherain. His conducting debut was at the Opéra de Marseille in 1946. He conducted also at the opera houses in Lille and Toulouse. His Paris debut was at the Opéra-Comique in Richard Strauss's Capriccio. He was director of the Opéra-Comique 1955–1959. He conducted at the Lyric Opera of Chicago 1959–1971. He was conductor, 1959, and music director 1970–1971, at the Paris Opéra. He was principal conductor of the Vienna Symphony 1986–1991.

His Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, debut came in 1961, with first appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, and La Scala, Milan, later in the 1960s. He worked with Maria Callas on a number of occasions, and made recordings of Carmen and Tosca with her.

Aside from opera, Prêtre is best known for performances of French music, having conducted long and difficult works like Debussy's La mer and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé without a score (i.e. from memory). He is especially associated with Francis Poulenc, giving the premiere of his opera La voix humaine at the Opéra-Comique in 1959 and his Sept répons des ténèbres in 1963. In 1999 he gave a series of concerts in Paris to celebrate the centenary of Poulenc's birth. In 1988 Marcel Landowski dedicated his Fourth Symphony to Prêtre. To many music lovers, however, Pretre's name will forever be associated with the 1959 world premiere of Joseph Jongen's Symphonie Concertante for Organ and Orchestra, Opus 81, with Virgil Fox and the Paris Opera Orchestra.

He conducted the La Scala Orchestra in Franco Zeffirelli's 1982 film versions of Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci.[1] Both films starred Plácido Domingo. In 2009, at the age of 85, he returned to these two Italian operas in the Roman amphitheater at Orange, for televised performances starring Roberto Alagna.

Prêtre has conducted the Vienna New Year's Concert twice, in 2008 and in 2010.[2] He is the only French conductor to have been appointed for this role so far.[3]

Prêtre married Gina Marny in 1950, and they have two children (one son, one daughter). Interests include riding, swimming, aviation, judo, and karate.

Awards[edit]

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  • International Dictionary of Opera. St. James Press, 1993
  • International Who's Who. 2004