Serge Baudo

Biography

Born: July 16, 1927; Marseille, France  
Serge Baudo was one of the leading French conductors of the twentieth century, although he never quite achieved the international celebrity status of Pierre Monteux or even Jean Martinon. He guest-conducted throughout Europe and the United States, but his base of operations was always France, mainly in the provinces. Baudo made several excellent recordings of twentieth century French music, including the principal orchestral works and oratorios Read more of Honegger, as well as pieces by Dutilleux, Poulenc, and Debussy. He was a particular advocate of new music and conducted the premieres of Milhaud's La mère coupable, Messiaen's Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum and La Transfiguration, and works by the likes of Dutilleux, Daniel-Lesur, Menotti, and Ohana. The son of an oboist and nephew of cellist Paul Tortelier, Baudo studied at the Paris Conservatory, winning first prizes in harmony, percussion, chamber music, and conducting. He composed a few scores for radio and film, working with Louis Malle and Yves Cousteau. He made his professional conducting debut in 1950 with the Lamoureux Orchestra, and frequently conducted in Paris on a freelance basis through the 1950s, also touring with the Choeur des Jeunesses Musicales de France. His first important appointment came in 1959, when he was named conductor of the Radio Nice Orchestra. Leaving this position in 1962, he spent the next three seasons as resident conductor at the Opéra de Paris. He served as the first conductor of France's new showcase ensemble, the Orchestre de Paris, from 1967 to 1970. This period overlapped with his appointment as music director of the Lyon Opera from 1969 to 1971. Baudo also spent three seasons guest-conducting at the Metropolitan Opera, where he made his debut in 1970 with Les Contes d'Hoffmann. Lyon became Baudo's long-term home, especially once he was named music director of the Lyon National Orchestra, a post he held from 1971 to 1987. In 1979, he founded an annual Berlioz Festival in Lyon, serving as its artistic director and paying particular attention to that composer's operas; he resigned in 1989, when budgetary belt tightening made it impossible to mount stage works. After 1989, Baudo maintained a low artistic profile. In 2001, he was named music director of the Prague Symphony Orchestra. Read less