Jean Fournet (conductor)

~ Person


Jean Fournet (14 April 1913 – 3 November 2008) was a French flautist and conductor.

Fournet was born in Rouen in 1913. His father was a flutist who gave him some instruction on the flute and music theory. Fournet was then trained at the Conservatoire de Paris in flute by Gaston Blanquart and Marcel Moyse, and conducting by Philippe Gaubert (himself a flutist). He performed on the flute at age fifteen with the Orchestra of the Théâtre des Arts in Rouen. He first established himself as a conductor in his native country conducting in Rouen 1936-1940, Marseilles 1940-1944, and then as director of the Paris Opéra-Comique 1944-1957. He was also a professor of conducting at the École Normale de Musique de Paris 1944-1962. In 1949, and again in 1950, he was guest conductor with the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra. His debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra was in 1950. The Netherlands became Fournet’s second home. He became principal guest conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in Hilversum 1961-1968, where he also taught conducting. He married Miriam-Hannecart Jakes, an American who performed the Cor anglais with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra from 1977.

He served as music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra 1968-1973, and the newly created Orchestre National de l’Île de France 1973-1982. He was the conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra 1983-1986 (he was given the title Honorary Conductor in 1989, and on his death in 2008 he was honored again with the title Permanent Honorary Conductor). His debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago was in 1965 with a double bill of Carmina Burana and L'heure espagnole, and his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in New York was on March 28, 1987 where he conducted Samson et Dalila.

Fournet was also president of the jury of the Besançon International Conductor's Competition for many years.

He proved a welcome addition to opera companies in America, where the French style had become something of a lost art. Beyond stage work, he proved, both early and late, a persuasive interpreter of the French symphonic literature. He was known as a gentle perfectionist, rarely raising his voice in rehearsal. Jean Fournet's career extended over an extraordinarily long period. His final concert was conducted in January 2005, at age 91, with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. Following that concert he retired to his home in Weesp near Hilversum in the Netherlands, where he died in 2008, aged 95.

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2003Chausson: Symphony in B-flat major, op. 20 / Fauré: Pelleas et MélisandeErnest Chausson, Gabriel Fauré; Jean Fournet, Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands2


1965Debussy: Iberia / De Falla: Le TricorneClaude Debussy, Manuel De Falla; Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Jean Fournet1
1967La Mer / NocturnesClaude Debussy; Czech Philharmonic Chorus, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Jean Fournet1
1974Afternoon of a Faun / Nocturnes / IberiaDebussy; Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Jean Fournet1
1985L'Arlésienne suites°1 et n°2 / Jeux d'enfants op. 22Georges Bizet; Jean Fournet, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra1
1987Requiem / "Pelléas et Mélisande" / PavaneGabriel Fauré; Elly Ameling, Bernard Kruysen, Jill Gomez, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra & Jean Fournet, David Zinman44
1988Symphony in D minor / Le Chasseur maudit / Les DjinnsCésar Franck; Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli, Jean Fournet1
1990La mer, Nocturnes, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un fauneClaude Debussy, Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest, Jean Fournet, Eliahu Inbal1
1993L’Apprenti sorcier / La Péri / Symphony in C majorDukas; The Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands, Jean Fournet2
1996Pacific 231Arthur Honegger; The Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands, Jean Fournet1
1998Lalo: Symphonie espagnole / Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto no. 3 / Introduction et Rondo capriccioso / HavanaiseÉdouard Lalo, Camille Saint‐Saëns; Arthur Grumiaux, Orchestre Lamoureux, Jean Fournet1
2009French & German OverturesJean Fournet, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra1
Orchestral MusicDukas; Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands, Jean Fournet1

Album + Compilation

1999Nocturnes / La Mer / IbériaDebussy; Jean Fournet, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra1
1999The Orchestral MasterpiecesDebussy, Ravel; Tanglewood Festival Chorus, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Monteux, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Jean Fournet, Bernard Haitink, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Paul Paray1

Album + Live

1989La Dame blancheFrançois Adrien Boieldieu; Radio Sinfonie Orkest di Hilversum, Jean Fournet1

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