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Pierre Bernac (Baritone)

Born: January 12, 1899 - Paris, France
Died: October 17, 1979 - Villeneuve-les-Avignon, France

The eminent French baritone and teacher, Pierre Bernac (real name: Bertin), received private voice lessons in Paris.

Pierre Bernac began his career as a singer rather late in life, being first engaged in finance as a member of his father's brokerage house in Paris. His musical tastes were decidedly in the domain of modem French songs. In May 1926, he made his debut recital in Paris with a program of songs by Francis Poulenc and Georges Auric; at other concerts he sang works by Debussy, Ravel, Arthur Honegger, and Milhaud. Eager to learn the art of German Lieder, he went to Salzburg to study with Reinhold von Warlich.

Returning to Paris, Pierre Bernac devoted himself to concerts and to teaching. He became a lifelong friend to F. Poulenc, who wrote many songs for him and acted as his piano accompanist in many tours through Europe and America. He also conducted master-classes in the USA and was on the faculty of the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau.

Pierre Bernac published a valuable manual, The Interpretation of French Song (1970), and a monograph, Francis Poulenc: The Man and His Songs (1977).

Source: Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (September 2002)

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