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JEAN MARTINON (1910-1976)

Born in Lyon, January 10, 1910 to a family of artists. At the age of 13 Jean Martinon entered the Lyon conservatory to begin in Maurice Faudray’s class. Three years later he left his home town for the Paris conservatory where he worked on his violin technique with Jules Boucherit, composition with Albert Roussel and Vincent d’Indy, and finally conducting with Desormières and Charles Munch. In 1934, Jean Martinon went to work for the Radio as a violin soloist and began a series of tours in the French provinces and abroad, with already 3 sonatinas, a symphony and a symphonetta to his credit.

The war interrupted his brillant progress. As a prisoner of war at Stalage IX A he sused ail his energy to compose the work which would make him famous, i. e. Psaume 136, le Chant des Captifs which was awarded the Paris Prize in 1943 under the German occupation, Musique d’Exil, Sonatina N°3 for piano, Sonatina N°4 for wind instruments and several choral works.

Upon his return from captivity, Martinon is named Conductor for the Irish Radio. Once on the isle, he composed his famous 3rd Symphony. At the same time he directed the Lamoureux, Colonne, Pasdeloup and the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire orchestras as Charles Munch’s replacement. In 1949 he was associate conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. However, this fame did not prevent him from composing, thus the opera Hécube, and the ballet, Ambohimanga ou la Cité Bleue, and piano pieces came to be.

From 1951 to 1957 he President Conductor of the Lamoureux concerts, then artistic director of the Tel-A viv orchestra. While in Israel he composed another oratorio, Le lis de Saron ou le Cantique des Cantiques. In 1960 he is named Generalmusikdirektor de Düsseldorf, a position previously occupied by Schumann and Mendelssohn. He thus became the first French musician to occupy such an important position in Germany.

His international career lead him to the United States where he was immediately successful. After a few concerts in Boston and Chicago, he was offered a position as Musical Director for the city of Chicago in 1963 : he was at the head of one of the largest orchestras in the world ! For his 55th birthday the Chicago Symphony Orchestra commissioned his fourth symphony, Altitudes from him. At the same time, he received the Gustav Malher medal in 1967 for the number and quality of his interpretations of the Austrian composer’s symphonie works. Even before his Chicago contract expired, he was requested to take up the direction of the Orchestre National de France. For 6 years, Jean Martinon, made it one of the best orchestras in Europe.

In January 1974 he became the permanent conductor for the Résidence de La Haye orchestra with which he achieved a triumph in the U.S. just before his death. However, Martinon the composer’s activity was not lessened by Martinon the Maetro’s success. Thus until his death he produced an octuor, vigintuor, a concerto for flute dedicated to Jean-Pierre Rampal, a new version of the Lyrical concerto for saxophone quatuor and chamber orchestra, and a very talented rendition for string orchestra of Beethoven’s Grand Fugue.

Jean Martinon was the man of French music as his recordings testify : Berlioz, Massenet, Bizet, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Ibert, Dukas, Poulenc, Pierné, Franck, Ravel, Schmitt and of course his master, Roussel. Contemporary music was also not foreign to him. An untiring researcher, he is the one to discover Saint-Saëns’ early symphonies and the Sheherezade Overture by Ravel.

When he accepted a position to teach conducting at the Paris Conservatory, he was at a turning point in his career, which was too quickly brought to an abrupt end by a cruel illness on March Ist, 1976 at the age of 66.


> News

- CD release: Suite nocturne op. 34 for violin and piano, Sonatine n° 5 op. 32 n° 1 for violin solo, 2e sonatine op. 19 n° 2 for violin and piano, and Histoire lointaine for violin and piano, by Claire Couic-Le Chevalier (violin) and Katiana Georga (piano).

See all works composed by Jean MARTINON



Works composed by Jean MARTINON

See all works composed by Jean MARTINON


> 2018 / Jean Martinon : L’intégrale
SUITE NOCTURNE OP. 34, for violin and piano
SONATINE N° 5 OP. 32 N° 1, forviolin solo
2E SONATINE OP. 19 N° 2, for violin and piano
HISTOIRE LOINTAINE, for violin and piano

Claire Couic-Le Chevalier (violin)
Katiana Georga (piano)