born on 24/5/1886 in Le Tréport, Haute-Normandie, France
died on 10/10/1979 in Monte Carlo, Monaco
Paul Paray (French pronunciation: [pl pa]; 24 May 1886 in Le Tréport – 10 October 1979 in Monte Carlo) was a French conductor, organist and composer. He is best remembered in the United States for being the resident conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for more than a decade.
Paray's father, Auguste, was a sculptor and organist at St. Jacques church, and leader of an amateur musical society. He put young Paul in the society's orchestra as a drummer. Later, Paul Paray went to Rouen to study music with the abbots Bourgeois and Bourdon, and organ with Haelling. This prepared him to enter the Paris Conservatoire. In 1911, Paul Paray won the Premier Grand Prix de Rome for his cantata Yanitza.
As World War I started, Paul Paray heeded the call to arms and joined the French Army. In 1914, he was a prisoner of war at the Darmstadt camp, where he composed a string quartet.
After the war, Paray was invited to conduct the orchestra of the Casino de Cauterets, which included players from the Lamoureux Orchestra. This was a springboard for him to conduct this Orchestra in Paris. Later he was music director of the Monte Carlo Orchestra, and president of the Concerts Colonne.
In 1922, Paray composed music for the Ida Rubinstein ballet Artémis troublée. That year he and the Spanish violinist Manuel Quiroga premiered his Violin Sonata. In 1931, he wrote the Mass for the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Joan of Arc, which was premiered at the cathedral in Rouen to commemorate the quincentenary of Joan of Arc's martyr death. In 1935, he wrote his Symphony No. 1 in C major, which was premiered at the Concerts Colonne. He composed his Symphony No. 2 in A major in 1941.
Paray made his American debut with the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra in 1939. In 1952, he was appointed music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducting them in numerous recordings for Mercury Records' "Living Presence" series.
Paray could and did conduct the entire orchestral repertoire well, but he specialized in the French symphonic literature. One of Paray's most renowned recordings, made in October 1957, is that of the Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 in C minor. The circumstances surrounding the recording were fortuitous. Paray had built the Detroit Symphony Orchestra into one of the world's most distinguished. Marcel Dupré, a friend and fellow student from childhood, was organist for the session. Dupré, as a young student, had pulled the organ stops for the composer Camille Saint-Saëns in a performance of the Symphony No. 3 in Paris, and the organ of Ford Auditorium in Detroit was well suited to the work. As well as being among the most authoritative readings of the work, the original analogue recording on the Mercury label remains an audiophile reference in vinyl, and the analogue-to-digital transfer produced by the original recording director Wilma Cozart for compact disc is also available from Mercury (recording number 432 719-2).
He married Yolande Falck in Cassis, France, on 25 August 1942. He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity.
The government of France awarded him its highest honor, the Grand-Croix de la Légion d'honneur, in 1975.
- Yanitza, Scène lyrique d'après une légende albanaise (1911); poem by Georges Spitzmuller
- Artémis troublée, Ballet by Léon Bakst (1911-1912)
- Symphonie d'archets for string orchestra (1919); orchestration of the String Quartet
- Nocturne for chamber orchestra
- Symphony No. 1 (1934)
- Symphony No. 2 (1936)
- Fantaisie for piano and orchestra (1909)
- Humoresque for violin and chamber orchestra (1910)
- Chamber music
- Piano Trio (1905)
- Sérénade for violin (or flute) and piano (1908)
- Sonata in C minor for violin and piano (1908)
- Humoresque for violin and piano (or chamber orchestra) (1910)
- Nocturne for violin (or cello) and piano (1910)
- String Quartet in E minor (1919)
- Sonata No. 1 in B♭ major for cello and piano (1919)
- Sonata No. 2 in C major for cello and piano
- Valse-caprice (1906)
- Romance (1909)
- Portraits d'enfants (1910)
- Valse sur un thème de Franz Schubert (1911)
- Impressions (1912)
- Reflets romantiques (1912)
- Avec esprit et charme
- En rêvant
- Avec fougue
- Sept pièces (1913)
- Presto (1913)
- Prélude, scherzo et allegro
- Thème et variations (1913)
- Prélude en fa majeur (1913)
- Allegro (1913)
- Scherzo (1913)
- D'une âme... (1914)
- Pièces pour piano à quatre mains for piano 4-hands (1914)
- Éclaircie (1923)
- Prélude (1930)
- Prélude en mi bémol mineur
- Prélude en fa mineur
- Sur la mer
- Valse en fa dièse mineur
- Valse en fa mineur
- La vraie furlana
- Nuit d'Italie for voice and piano; words by Paul Bourget
- Laurette for voice and piano; words by Alfred de Vigny
- Sépulcre for voice and piano; words by Leon Volade
- Paroles à la lune for voice and piano (1903); words by Anna de Noailles
- Panis Angelicus for voice and cello (1904)
- Dans les bois for voice and piano (1904); words by Gérard de Nerval
- La promesse for voice and piano or orchestra (1910); words by Gabriel Montoya
- La plainte for voice and piano or orchestra (1911); words by Lucien Paté
- Le papillon for voice and piano or orchestra (1911); words by Jean Aicard
- Le champ de bataille (1912); words by Théophile Gautier
- Trois mélodies for voice and piano or orchestra (1912); words by Théophile Gautier
- La Dernière feuille
- Villanelle for voice and piano or orchestra (1912); words by Théophile Gautier
- Chanson violette for voice and piano or orchestra (1913); words by Albert Samain
- Le chevrier for voice and piano or orchestra (1913); words by José-Maria de Heredia
- Il est d'étranges soirs for voice and piano or orchestra (1913) words by Albert Samain
- Viole for voice and piano (1913); words by Albert Samain
- In manus tuas for voice, oboe and organ (1914)
- Quatre poèmes de Jean Lahor for voice and piano or orchestra (1921)
- Après l'orage
- Après le bal
- Dèsir de mort
- Vocalise-étude for medium voice and piano (1924)
- Le Poèt et la muse for voice and piano; words by E. Thévenet
- L'embarquement pour l'idéal for voice and piano; words by Catulle Mendès
- Mortes les fleurs for voice and piano; words by P. May
- Chanson napolitaine for voice and piano; words by P. May
- Os Justi, Offertorium for chorus and organ (1903)
- Acis et Galatée, Cantata (1910)
- Jeanne d'Arc, Oratorio (1913); words by Gabriel Montoya
- Salve Regina for chorus a cappella (1929)
- Messe du cinquième centenaire de la mort de Jeanne d'Arc (Mass for the Fifth Centenary of the Death of Joan of Arc) for soloists, chorus and orchestra (1931)
- Nuit tombante for chorus and orchestra
- Pastorale de Noël pour for soloists, chorus and orchestra
- Soleils de septembre for chorus and orchestra
- A Ravel Reader By Maurice Ravel, Arbie Orenstein page 580 Courier Dover Publications, 2003
- Delta Omicron
- "A Frenchman in Detroit"
- Cercle Paul Paray
- W.L. Landowski, Paul Paray, musician de France et du monde, in series, Nos amis les musiciens, Lyon: Éditions et impr. du Sud-est (1956).
- Bibliography (in French): Jean-Philippe Mousnier: "Paul Paray", Editions L'Harmattan (1998).
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