Obituary: French conductor Georges Prêtre, 92

Posted on: January 5, 2017

“Georges Prêtre, the debonair French conductor who led the premiere of Poulenc’s one-woman opera La Voix Humaine, accompanied Maria Callas in several celebrated performances and recordings, and became a favorite in Vienna, died on Wednesday in Navès, France,” writes Michael Cooper in Wednesday’s (1/4) New York Times. Prêtre “led many of the world’s leading orchestras during a remarkable 70-year career that lasted through October when, visibly frail, he gave an emotional farewell concert with the Vienna Symphony, of which he was honorary conductor.… The Vienna Symphony, which he first conducted in 1962, and where he served as principal guest conductor from 1986 to 1991, said that his brand of music-making could be challenging but that he was the ‘genuine article,’ and that he had left his mark on two generations of the orchestra’s musicians.” Born in northern France on Aug. 14, 1924, and educated at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris, Prêtre made his debut at the Marseilles Opera at 22. His career would go on to include engagements at the Opéra Comique, Paris Opera, Metropolitan Opera, and Teatro alla Scalla as well as at major orchestras. Survivors include his wife, Gina Marny, and their daughter, Isabelle Prêtre Koch.

Posted January 5, 2017