Pierre Monteux

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Monteux, Pierre

Monteux, Pierre, celebrated French-born American conductor; b. Paris, April 4, 1875; d. Hancock, Maine, July 1, 1964. He studied at the Paris Cons, with Berthelier (violin), Lavignac (harmony), and Lenepveu (composition), receiving 1st prize for violin (1896). He began his career as a violisi in the Colonne Orch. in Paris, where he later was chorus master; also was a violisi in the orch. of the Opéra-Comique in Paris. He then organized his own series, the Concerts Berlioz, at the Casino de Paris (1911); that same year, he also became conductor for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes; his performances of modern ballet scores established him as one of the finest technicians of the baton. He led the premieres of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, Le Sacre du printemps, and Le Rossignol, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé and Debussy’s Jeux. Monteux conducted at the Paris Opéra (1913–14); founded the Société des Concerts Populaires in Paris (1914); appeared as guest conductor in London, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, and other music centers. In 1916–17 he toured the U.S. with the Ballets Russes; in 1917, conducted the Civic Orch. Soc, N.Y.; from 1917 to 1919, at the Metropolitan Opera there. In 1919 he was engaged as conductor of the Boston Sym. Orch., and held this post until 1924; from 1924 to 1934 he was assoc. conductor of the Concertgebouw Orch. in Amsterdam; from 1929 to 1938 he was principal conductor of the newly founded Orch. Symphonique de Paris. From 1936 until 1952 he was conductor of the reorganized San Francisco Sym. Orch. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1942. He appeared as a guest conductor with the Boston Sym. Orch. from 1951, and also accompanied it on its first European tour in 1952, and then again in 1956; likewise was again on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera (1953–56). In 1961 (at the age of 86) he became principal conductor of the London Sym. Orch., retaining this post until his death. He was married in 1927 to Doris Hodgkins (b. Salisbury, Maine, 1895; d. Hancock, Maine, March 13, 1984), an American singer who co-founded in 1941 the Domaine School for Conductors and Orchestral Players in Hancock, Maine, of which Monteux was director. She publ. 2 books of memoirs, Everyone Is Someone and It’s All in the Music (N.Y., 1965). After Monteux’s death, she established the Pierre Monteux Memorial Foundation. As an interpreter, Monteux endeavored to bring out the inherent essence of the music, without imposing his own artistic personality; unemotional and restrained in his podium manner, he nonetheless succeeded in producing brilliant performances in an extensive repertoire ranging from the classics to the 20th century.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Monteux, Pierre (b Paris, 1875; d Hancock, Maine, 1964). Fr.-born conductor (Amer. cit. 1942). Played va. in orch. of Paris Opéra-Comique (was prin. va. at f.p. of Pelléas et Mélisande, 1902). Early years as cond. with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in Paris, when he cond. f.ps. of Petrushka (1911), Rite of Spring (1913), Jeux (1913) and Daphnis et Chloé (1912). Cond. Paris Opéra 1913–14, incl. f.p. of The Nightingale. Salzburg Fest. 1916 (Vienna PO). Cond. NY Met 1917–19 and 1953–6, and cond. f. Amer. p. of The Golden Cockerel, 1918. Boston SO 1919–24 (introducing much modern mus.). Cond. Orchestre Symphonique de Paris 1929–38. Cond. S. Francisco SO 1935–52. Prin. cond. LSO 1961–4. Outstanding interpreter of Fr. and Russ. mus., but of much else besides.

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Pierre Monteux (pyĕr môNtö´), 1875–1964, French-American conductor, studied at the Paris Conservatory. As conductor (1911–14) of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, he directed the premieres of ballets by Stravinsky, Ravel, and Debussy. He came to the United States in 1916 to conduct the Ballets Russes on its American tour, and he remained for two seasons at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1919 to 1924. For the next 10 years he appeared as guest conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. He became conductor of the Paris Symphony Orchestra in 1930 and of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1936. In 1942 he became a U.S. citizen. From 1961 until his death Monteux led the London Symphony Orchestra. He was known for the purity and self-restraint of his interpretations.

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MONTEUX, PIERRE (1875–1964), conductor. Born in Paris, Monteux studied at the Paris Conservatoire where he won the first prize for violin in 1896. He played the viola in various orchestras and founded an orchestra of his own, the Concerts Berlioz. From 1911 to 1914 he conducted the Ballets Russes of Diaghilev, giving the first performances of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloë, Debussy's Jeux, and Stravinsky's Petrouchka, Le Sacre du Printemps, and Le Rossignol. He was conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 1917 to 1919 and then of the Boston Symphony Orchestra until 1924. From 1924 to 1934 he appeared as second conductor of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He founded the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris (1929–38), and from 1936 to 1952 he was director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Monteux's conducting was faithful to the intentions of the composer and combined brilliant technique with profound musical culture. From 1961 until his death, Monteux was chief conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.


Baker, Biog. Dict; Riemann-Gurlitt; Grove, Dict.; mgg.

[Claude Abravanel]