This week, The Music Treasury is presenting works by conductor Louis Frémaux. Frémaux was an active conductor in the 1900s, post WWII, in Europe and Australia. Among other pieces, the show will present Bizet’s rarely heard Second Symphony, Roma.
The show, hosted by Dr Gary Lemco, will air between 19:00 and 21:00 PDT on KZSU in the Bay Area; it can also be heard concurrently on the ‘Net at kzsu.stanford.edu.
Louis Frémaux, Conductor
Louis Frémaux (1921-2017), conductor, was born in Aire-sur-la-Lys, France and came from an artistic background; his father was a painter, and his mother a music teacher. He studied music at the conservatoire in Valenciennes, but his studies were interrupted by WWII, when he joined the French Resistance; at the end of the war he was commissioned in the French Foreign Legion and posted to Vietnam in 1945-46. He entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1947, studied under Louis Fourestier and Jacques Chailley, and graduated in 1952 with a first prize in conducting.
After his release from the French Foreign Legion (following his recall for service in Algeria), Frémaux worked with the orchestra of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, at the request of Prince Rainier. He was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 1969. For ten years he helped build the reputation of the Monte Carlo orchestra, and conducted opera premieres there. From 1969 to 1971, he was the first music director of the Orchestre Philharmonique Rhône-Alpes (later the Orchestre National de Lyon).
In the UK, Frémaux was principal conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) from 1969 to 1978. During his CBSO tenure, he formed the CBSO Chorus. In 1978 he was awarded an honorary D. Mus. from Birmingham University; he also became a member of the Royal Academy of Music. However, his CBSO tenure ended in controversy after his relationship with the orchestra players had broken down.
Frémaux served as chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra from 1979 to 1982. He died at the age of 95 in March 2017.
By the early 1980s Frémaux had recorded over 50 works, winning a special citation from the Koussevitzky Jury for the ‘Nottuni ed Alba’ and the Second Symphony of John McCabe. Other recordings include Berlioz (Grande Messe des Morts, Symphonie Fantastique), Bizet (Symphony in C, Roma), Delalande (Psalms 12 and 144), Fauré (Requiem), Ibert (Bacchanale, Bostoniana, Louisville Concerto, Divertissement), Poulenc (Gloria, Piano Concerto), Saint-Saëns (Symphony No 3, works for cello and orchestra) and Walton (Glora, Te Deum, Façade, The Wise Virgins).
Louis Frémaux can be seen conducting two piano concertos with Samson François (Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand, Paris, 1964, and Grieg, Paris, 1967) on EMI Classics DVD 490437.
Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
Berlioz: Marche funebre pour le derniere scene d’Hamlet
Massenet: Le Cid: Ballet Suite
Poulenc: Piano Concerto (w/C. Ortiz)
Saint-Saens: Prelude to Le Deluge, Op. 45 (w/Y-P Tortelier)
Ibert: Louisville Concerto
Litolff: Scherzo from Concerto symphonique No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 102 (w/J. Ogden)