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Orchestre National de France

About Orchestre National de France

The Orchestre National de France was founded in 1934 as the first full-time symphony orchestra in France. In the course of decades, its multifaceted concert activities, recordings, tours, and numerous premieres of French and international works have brought the orchestra into contact with a great number of outstanding artists and demonstrated a high artistic standard and achievement.

The orchestra’s musical tradition was begun by its first Principal Conductor, Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht. Following the Second World War, the tradition was continued under Manuel Rosenthal, André Cluytens, Roger Désormière, Charles Munch, Maurice Le Roux, and Jean Martinon. Sergiu Celibidache was the orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor in the years from 1973 to 1975. Lorin Maazel assumed this position in 1977 and eventually became the orchestra’s Musical Director in 1988. From 1989 to 1998, Jeffrey Tate was Principal Guest Conductor, and from 1991 to 2001, Charles Dutoit was the Musical Director. In September 2002, Kurt Masur assumed this position, followed by Daniele Gatti in September of 2008. With Gatti, the orchestra has evolved a rich symphonic repertoire with works by French composers such as Debussy, Ravel, and Berlioz, as well as masterpieces from the standard repertoire with cycles of works by Brahms, Beethoven, Mahler, and Tchaikovsky.

The orchestra looks back with pride at the number of 20th century pieces it has premiered: among them "Le Soleil des Eaux" by Pierre Boulez, Olivier Messiaen’s "Turangalîla Symphony" (the first French performance), "Déserts" by Edgar Varèse, and "Jonchaies" by Iannis Xenakis, as well as Henri Dutilleux’s violin concerto "L’Arbre des Songes" (with Isaac Stern as soloist), Dutilleux’s "Correspondances" for voice and orchestra (the first performance of the revised version), and his "Le temps l’horloge" under the direction of Seiji Ozawa (with Renée Fleming as soloist).