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Jean-François Paillard (Conductor)

Born: April 12, 1928 - Vitry-le-François, France
Died: April 15, 2013 - Saint-Auban sur l´Ouvèze, France

The French conductor and musicologist, Jean-François Paillard, earned a degree in mathematics from the Sorbonne, but he turned to music soon after. He attended the Paris Conservatory as a musicology student, where he won first prize in music history; he later studied conducting at the Salzburg Mozarteum with Igor Markevitch.

Jean-François Paillard formed the Ensemble Jean-Marie Leclair in 19522 or 19531, which was renamed the Jean-François Paillard Chamber Orchestra in 19532 or in 19591. Comprised of a dozen string players and a harpsichord, the group paralleled such small-scale English ensembles as the Boyd Neel Orchestra in performing Baroque-era works - especially those from France - as well as contemporary works for string orchestra. Paillard became one of the most visible French exponents of Baroque music from the 1960’s onward. As the public's interest in Baroque music rose, the orchestra's popularity grew and was aided by a series of international tours covering dozens of countries. He has worked with such celebrated soloists as Maurice André and Jean-Pierre Rampal. Later in his career, Paillard turned more to guest conducting orchestras around the world and his avid interest in the sciences.

The recordings of Jean-François Paillard and his orchestra on Erato - which included the standard Baroque repertory such as J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos (BWV 1046-1051) and the Orchestral Suites, as well as pieces by François Couperin and Rameau - were initially easier to find in Europe. But when RCA Victor picked up the Erato catalog for USA distribution in the 1970’s, Paillard's records were snapped up by American listeners. Lightning struck for Paillard late in the decade with his recording of the Canon in D by Johann Johann Pachelbel. Paillard's ran nearly twice as long as most rival recordings, by virtue of its uniquely slow tempo and its finely delineated parts for the strings, both bowed and pizzicato. Paillard further benefited when Victor issued it on a full-priced LP and paired it with Johann Friedrich Fasch's Trumpet Concerto and grouped with various RCA artists on a budget-priced compilation LP called “Go for Baroque”. Sales of “Go for Baroque” moved faster than Beatles' albums were sold. Paillard's performances and recordings have also included works by Albert Roussel and Debussy. Paillard has won numerous Grand Prix du Disque awards in France and Prix Edison awards in Holland and his release of Rameau's Les Indes galantes remains a highly regarded recording.

Jean-François Paillard edited the series Archives de la Musique Instrumentale. He published the study La Musique Française Classique (Paris, 1960).

More Photos

1. Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
2. All Music Guide (Author: Bruce Eder)
3. Liner notes to 3-LP album “J.S. Bach: Les Six Concertos Bradebourgeois” (Erato, Photos 12-25 from recording sessions in 1958)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2001, February 2012); Manfred Krugmann (Dates & Photo 03, April 2013)

Jean-François Paillard: Short Biography | Recordings of Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

Jean-François Paillard - Biography (AMG)


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