Georges Pretre

Georges Pretre

Birth
Waziers, Departement du Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
Death 4 Jan 2017 (aged 92)
Naves, Departement du Tarn, Midi-Pyrénées, France
Burial Castres, Departement du Tarn, Midi-Pyrénées, France
Memorial ID 174886703 · View Source
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Conductor. A prolific Maestro, he shall probably be best remembered for his operatic performances with the legendarily difficult Maria Callas. Raised in northern France, he manifested his talent early, entered the Conservatory of Douai at eight, and by his teens had transferred to the Conservatory of Paris where he studied trumpet and composition. Pretre made his 1946 professional bow with the Opera de Marseilles leading Edouard Lalo's "Le Roi d'Ys", though it was a presentation of Saint-Saens' "Samson et Dalila" at which, angered by the rustle of candy wrappers in the audience, he screamed "Non!", broke his baton, and threw the pieces at the offenders, that made his name. After refining his skills in Lille and Toulouse, he took the podium of Paris' Opera-Comique in 1955 and the following year first conducted Richard Straus' "Capriccio", a piece that was to be one of his signatures over the years. Pretre first conducted for Maria Callas in a 1958 concert that was to lead to numerous recital and operatic performances as well as to the recording studio, Callas willing to respond to Pretre's demanding manner and the Maestro able to coax at least a modicum of obedience from the self-centered diva. In 1959 he conducted the Opera-Comique world premiere of Frances Poulenc's one act "La Voix Humaine", and while he respected Poulenc and collaborated with him several times, he did express the wish that the composer had been a bit more 'hands-on'. Also in 1959 he joined the Paris Opera Orchestra and the eccentric Virgil Fox for the world premiere of Joseph Jonjen's "Symphonie Concertante for Organ and Orchestra"; a regular at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, he bowed at the Metropolitan Opera in 1964, then the year following was first heard at Covent Garden as well as at La Scala Milano where he made his debut with Gounod's "Faust" and was to continue his association up thru 2001. Pretre was to spend the 1970-1971 season as Music Director of the Paris Opera, a tenure that was to prove miserable due to the lack of adequate finances; liked in his native land, he was revered in Vienna, from 1986 thru 1991 serving as Music Director of the Vienna Symphony and in 2008 and again in 2010 being accorded the honor of conducting the Vienna Philharmonic's famed New Years Day concerts. The recipient of multiple Awards including the 2004 Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and the Arts and France's 2009 designation as Grand Officer of the Legion of Hounor, he remained active and alert to the end, last conducted on October 12, 2016, died of the effects of advanced age, and was buried with full military honors. At his demise he left a large recorded legacy which includes complete preservations of Puccini's "Tosca" and Bizet's "Carmen" made with Callas, several Callas recital disks, complete readings of "Capriccio", Verdi's "La Traviata", and Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor", Poulenc's orchestral works, the two New Years Concerts, and Berlioz' "Symphonie Fantastique".

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 5 Jan 2017
  • Find a Grave Memorial 174886703
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Georges Pretre (14 Aug 1924–4 Jan 2017), Find a Grave Memorial no. 174886703, citing Cimetiere Communal de Castres, Castres, Departement du Tarn, Midi-Pyrénées, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .