Georges Prêtre

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Georges Prêtre
Georges Pretre.jpg
Background information
Born14 August 1924
Waziers, Nord, France
Died4 January 2017(2017-01-04) (aged 92)
Navès, Tarn, France
Genres Classical, opera
Occupation(s) Conductor

Georges Prêtre (French pronunciation:  [ʒɔʁʒ pʁɛːtʁ] ; 14 August 1924 – 4 January 2017) was a French orchestral and opera conductor.



Prêtre 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. [1] He also conducted 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. [2]

Waziers Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Waziers is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.

Nord (French department) Department of France

Nord is a department in the far north of France. It was created from the western halves of the historical counties of Flanders and Hainaut, and the Bishopric of Cambrai. The modern coat of arms was inherited from the County of Flanders.

Douai Subprefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Douai is a commune in the Nord département in northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department. Located on the river Scarpe some 40 kilometres from Lille and 25 km (16 mi) from Arras, Douai is home to one of the region's most impressive belfries. The population of the metropolitan area, including Lens, was 552,682 in 1999.

His Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, debut came in 1965, with first appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, [3] and La Scala, Milan, also coming in the same decade. He worked with Maria Callas on a number of occasions, and made recordings of Carmen and Tosca with her. [4]

Royal Opera House opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London

The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel's first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.

Covent Garden district in London, England

Covent Garden is a district in Greater London, on the eastern fringes of the West End, between Charing Cross Road and Drury Lane. It is associated with the former fruit-and-vegetable market in the central square, now a popular shopping and tourist site, and with the Royal Opera House, which is also known as "Covent Garden". The district is divided by the main thoroughfare of Long Acre, north of which is given over to independent shops centred on Neal's Yard and Seven Dials, while the south contains the central square with its street performers and most of the historical buildings, theatres and entertainment facilities, including the London Transport Museum and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Metropolitan Opera opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Aside from opera, Prêtre was 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 the first performance in France of 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, Prêtre's name will forever be associated with the 1959 world premiere of Joseph Jongen's Symphonie Concertante for Organ and Orchestra, Op. 81, with Virgil Fox and the Paris Opera Orchestra. Eclectic musician, he also conducted in Vienna, in 1962, L'Opéra d'Aran by Gilbert Bécaud.

Claude Debussy 19th and 20th-century French classical composer

Achille-Claude Debussy was a French composer. He is sometimes seen as the first Impressionist composer, although he vigorously rejected the term. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

<i>La mer</i> (Debussy) musical composition

La mer, trois esquisses symphoniques pour orchestre, or simply La mer, L. 109, is an orchestral composition by the French composer Claude Debussy.

Maurice Ravel French composer

Joseph Maurice Ravel was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism along with his elder contemporary Claude Debussy, although both composers rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer.

He conducted the La Scala Orchestra in Franco Zeffirelli's 1982 film versions of Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci . [5] 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.

La Scala Opera house in Milan, Italy

La Scala is an opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala. The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta.

Franco Zeffirelli Italian director and producer of films and television

Gian Franco Corsi Zeffirelli,, best known as Franco Zeffirelli, is an Italian director and producer of operas, films and television. He is also a former senator (1994–2001) for the Italian centre-right Forza Italia party.

Pietro Mascagni Italian composer known for operas

Pietro Antonio Stefano Mascagni was an Italian composer best known for his operas, such as his 1890 masterpiece Cavalleria Rusticana which caused one of the greatest sensations in opera history and single-handedly ushered in the Verismo movement in Italian dramatic music. While it was often held that Mascagni, like Ruggiero Leoncavallo, was a "one-opera man" who could never repeat his first success, L'amico Fritz and Iris have remained in the repertoire in Europe since their premieres. Mascagni said that at one point, Iris was performed in Italy more often than Cavalleria.

Prêtre conducted the Vienna New Year's Concert twice, in 2008 and in 2010, [6] the only French conductor to have been appointed for this role. [7]

Vienna New Years Concert

The Vienna New Year's Concert is an annual concert of classical music performed by the Vienna Philharmonic on the morning of New Year's Day in Vienna, Austria. The concert occurs at the Musikverein at 11:15. The orchestra performs the same concert programme on 30 December, 31 December, and 1 January but only the last concert is regularly broadcast on radio and television.

Prêtre married Gina Marny in 1950, and they had two children (one son, one daughter). Interests included riding, swimming, aviation, judo, and karate. [8]

Prêtre died in France on 4 January 2017, aged 92. He had a home in Navès (Tarn), near Castres. [9]


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  1. Nichols, Roger (2017-01-05). "Georges Prêtre obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  2. Smith, Harrison (2017-01-06). "Georges Prêtre, French conductor who recorded with Maria Callas, dies at 92". Washington Post. ISSN   0190-8286 . Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  3. Cooper, Michael (2017). "Georges Prêtre, French Conductor Known for Interpretation, Dies at 92". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  4. Guest (2017-01-04). "The conductor Georges Prêtre has died". Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  5. "Georges Prêtre" . Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  6. "Wiener Philharmoniker > Homepage" . Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  7. "Sinfinimusic - Deutsche Grammophon" . Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  8. "Georges Prêtre, A Conductor With A 70-Year Career, Dies At 92". Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  9. "Mort du grand chef d'orchestre français Georges Prêtre". 4 January 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2017 via Le Monde.