Pierre Monteux, conductor

Monteux was a rubicund little man with thinning,iron-grey hair brushed back; he sported a huge handlebar moustache.  He was good in both the German and the French classics and particularly good at Stravinsky, having given some first performances of his works, most notably the Rite of Spring , in Paris,which ended in a riot.

He had a good conducting technique, and wielded a fairly long baton. He always came to rehearsals dressed in a grey, silk-like conducting jacket.  Even in his mid-eighties he had lots of energy and verve.  I particularly liked his version of Berlioz’s  Fantastic Symphony where in the Ballroom movement he would make an extraordinary accellerando (speeding up) that would have swept the dancers off their feet.  He would cry “C’mon gentlemen” and immediately life was injected into the music.

I would class him amongst the world’s “greats”.

We were all sad when he parted with his wife of many years, “Ma” Monteux as we used to call her.  Unfortunately he died after having to climb the stairs of his New York apartment when the elevator failed, but he was a good age, around eighty-nine.

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Published in: on May 2, 2007 at 10:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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