The Music Treasury for 10 November 2019 — Pierre Monteaux, Conductor

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The Music Treasury for 10 November 2019 — Pierre Monteaux, Conductor

The Winter broadcast time of The Music Treasury on KZSU 90.1 FM remains Sunday, from 7 – 9 PM.  You can also listen online at kzsulive.stanford.edu during the broadcast time.  This week’s episode features that distinguished conductor from last century, Pierre Mont4eaux.  The show is hosted by Dr Gary Lecmo; the appended notes adapted from Wikipedia.

Pierre Monteaux, Conductor

Pierre Monteux (4 April 1875 – 1 July 1964) was a French (later American) conductor. After violin and viola studies, and a decade as an orchestral player and occasional conductor, he began to receive regular conducting engagements in 1907. He came to prominence when, for Sergei Diaghilev‘s Ballets Russes company between 1911 and 1914, he conducted the world premieres of Stravinsky‘s The Rite of Spring and other prominent works including PetrushkaRavel‘s Daphnis et Chloé, and Debussy‘s Jeux. Thereafter he directed orchestras around the world for more than half a century.

From 1917 to 1919 Monteux was the principal conductor of the French repertoire at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1919–24), Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra (1924–34), Orchestre Symphonique de Paris (1929–38) and San Francisco Symphony (1936–52). In 1961, aged eighty-six, he accepted the chief conductorship of the London Symphony Orchestra, a post which he held until his death three years later. Although known for his performances of the French repertoire, his chief love was the music of German composers, above all Brahms. He disliked recording, finding it incompatible with spontaneity, but he nevertheless made a substantial number of records.

Monteux was well known as a teacher. In 1932 he began a conducting class in Paris, which he developed into a summer school that was later moved to his summer home in Les Baux in the south of France. After moving permanently to the US in 1942, and taking American citizenship, he founded a school for conductors and orchestral musicians in Hancock, Maine. Among his students in France and America who went on to international fame were Lorin MaazelIgor MarkevitchNeville MarrinerSeiji OzawaAndré Previn and David Zinman. The school in Hancock has continued since Monteux’s death.

The record producer John Culshaw described Monteux as “that rarest of beings – a conductor who was loved by his orchestras … to call him a legend would be to understate the case.” Toscanini observed that Monteux had the best baton technique he had ever seen. Like Toscanini, Monteux insisted on the traditional orchestral layout with first and second violins to the conductor’s left and right, believing that this gave a better representation of string detail than grouping all the violins together on the left. On fidelity to composers’ scores, Monteux’s biographer, John Canarina, ranks him with Klemperer and above even Toscanini, whose reputation for strict adherence to the score was, in Canarina’s view, less justified than Monteux’s [From Wikipedia].

The recordings below were chosen to represent Monteaux at work from some of his many conducting locations in major cities.
From San Francisco: A Siegfried Idyll 16:44
From Boston: Wagner: Tannhauser: Dich, teure Halle (w/M. Harshaw) 3:03
From Vienna: Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58 (w/Paul Badura-Skoda) 33:30
From Amsterdam: Beethoven: Marche Funebre from Eroica Symphony (in Memory John F. Kennedy) 15:03
From Amsterdam: Dvorak: Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104 (w/Mstislav Rostropovich) 38:00

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