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Ernest Ansermet

Ernest Ansermet was born in Vevey, Switzerland, on November 11, 1883. His father was a mathematician and schoolteacher, and his mother taught him music. He studied mathematics at Lausanne University, graduating in 1903. He became a schoolteacher, and then a professor of mathematics in Lausanne (1905-1906). During this time he also studied music with Ernest Bloch, his composition teacher. Deciding to become a musician, he watched conductors closely. He studied conducting with Mottl in Munich and Nikisch in Berlin, and made his concert conducting debuts in Lausanne and Montreux in 1910. He credited his observation of Francisco de Lacerda as the basis of his conducting technique. In 1911 he succeeded de Lacerda as conductor of the Kursaal concerts in Montreux., in 1915 becoming the conductor of the Geneva Symphony Orchestra. The composer Igor Stravinsky frequently stayed in Switzerland before the war and especially the war years. Ansermet became friends with Stravinsky, and also with Debussy and Ravel. The great ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev hired Ansermet as the principal conductor of his Ballets Russes company. During the war Diaghilev took his company to America. Leading their orchestra, Ansermet made his North American debut in New York in 1916 and appeared in South America for the first time in 1917. On this tour in the USA he made his first recordings. On September 28, 1918, he conducted the premiere of Stravinsky's dance-theater piece "L'Histoire du Soldat" in Lausanne. Through the 1920s he conducted several important premieres for the Ballets Russes, including Falla's The Three-Cornered Hat, Prokofiev's , and Stravinsky's Pulcinella. He became a favorite conductor of Stravinsky's. He founded L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva in 1918 and remained its chief conductor until he retired in 1966. Although he undertook guest conducting assignments frequently, his loyalty to the orchestra his founded was notable, and he spent by far the majority of his working time with it. His reputation as a conductor was primarily in music of the Classical Era and in tonal twentieth-century music, particularly of French and Swiss composers. He was also a notable interpreter of Russian music of the Rimsky-Korsakov school, but not so outstanding in the rest of the Romantic repertoire. Among the composers he especially championed were Debussy, Ravel, Falla, Roussel, Honegger, Frank Martin, Bartók, and Britten. He was noted for his exceptionally clear orchestral timbres and his accuracy. He was especially noted for recordings in the early stereo LP era, for the English Decca label ("London" in North America) under their "ffss" logo; these recordings were notable for their clean, wide, and brilliant sound. Ansermet died in Geneva on February 20, 1969. ~ Joseph Stevenson
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Ansermet Decca Recordings 1953-1967

Disc 1
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Title: Cantata No. 31, "Der Himmel Lacht! Die Erde Jubilieret," BWV 31 (BC A55)
Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn
Title: Symphony No. 22 In E Flat Major ("Philosopher"), H. 1/22
Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Title: Symphony No. 4 In B Flat Major, Op. 60
Composer: Carl Maria von Weber
Title: Der Beherrscher Der Geister (The Ruler Of The Spirits), Overture For Orchestra, J. 122 (Op. 27) (revision Of Overture To Rübezahl)
Title: Preciosa, Incidental Music For Soloist, Chorus & Orchestra, J. 279 (Op. 78)
Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
Title: Ruy Blas, Overture For Orchestra In C Minor, Op. 95
Disc 2
Composer: Alexander Borodin
Title: Prince Igor, Opera (Completed By Rimsky-korsakov & Glazunov)
Composer: Anatol Lyadov
Title: Kikimora For Orchestra, Op. 63
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Title: Pulcinella, Suite For Orchestra
Composer: Jean Sibelius
Title: Symphony No. 4 In A Minor, Op. 63
Disc 3
Composer: Léo Delibes
Title: Coppélia, Ou La Fille Aux Yeux D'émail, Ballet
Title: Sylvia, Ou La Nymphe De Diane, Ballet
Composer: César Franck
Title: Le Chasseur Maudit (The Accursed Huntsman), Symphonic Poem (also Arr. For Piano, 4 Hands), M. 44
Composer: Emmanuel Chabrier
Title: Joyeuse Marche (Marche Française), For Orchestra Or Piano, 4 Hands
Title: Le Roi Malgré Lui, Opéra-comique In 3 Acts
Composer: Gabriel Fauré
Title: Pénélope, Opera In 3 Acts
Composer: Robert Schumann
Title: Carnaval for piano, Op. 9
Disc 4
Composer: Gabriel Fauré
Title: Masques Et Bergamasques, Suite For Orchestra, Op. 112
Composer: Maurice Ravel
Title: Le Tombeau De Couperin, For Orchestra
Composer: Claude Debussy
Title: Petite Suite (4), For Piano, 4 Hands (Or Orchestra), L. 65
Title: Épigraphes Antiques (6), For Piano, 2 Or 4 Hands (or Orchestra), L. 131
Composer: Ottorino Respighi
Title: Fontane Di Roma (The Fountains Of Rome), Symphonic Poem, P. 106
Disc 5
Composer: Arthur Honegger
Title: Le Roi David, Oratorio (Psaume Symphonique) For Narrator, 3 Solo Voices, 2 Choruses & Chamber Orchestra, H37b
Title: Pacific 231, Symphonic Movement For Orchestra (Mouvement Symphonique No. 1), H53
Disc 6
Composer: Paul Dukas
Title: La Péri, Ballet
Composer: Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov
Title: Dubinushka (The Little Oak Stick) (I), Tone Poem For Orchestra, Op. 62
Composer: Ottorino Respighi
Title: Rossiniana, Original Music By Rossini Arranged For Orchestra, P. 148
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Title: Scherzo à La Russe, for Orchestra
Composer: Frank Martin
Title: Concerto For 7 Wind Instruments (timpani, Percussion & String Orchestra)
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Track List: Glazunov: The Seasons

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