Paul Tortelier

Biography

Born: March 21, 1914; Paris, France   Died: December 18, 1990; Villarceaux, France  
A consummate artist whose approach to the cello was directed toward breathing life into the music, Paul Tortelier earned the respect and affection of countless colleagues. An enduring friendship with Pablo Casals found him playing, in the words of a French critic, Apollo to Casals' Jupiter. Like Casals, Tortelier emphasized using but one finger at a time on the string to allow free vibration. Fantasy and emotional freedom marked his performances Read more and attracted numerous young players.

Given a cello by his mother at age six, Tortelier was prompted toward a career from the beginning. His first teacher, Beatrice Bluhm, exposed young Paul to the flexible wrist and free bowing arm favored by the Franco-Belgian School. At ten, Tortelier entered the Paris Conservatoire, where his studied with Gérard Hekking, who encouraged a sense of rhythmic freedom and instilled in his pupil an abiding love for Bach. While his lessons continued, he performed in Paris cafés and cinemas; at 16, he graduated from the Conservatoire with a first prize.

After joining the Paris Radio Orchestra as assistant principal, Tortelier made a debut with Lamoureux Concert Association, all the while studying harmony with Jean Gallon at the Conservatoire. Completion of those courses brought another first prize, this time in composition. As a member of the Monte Carlo Symphony Orchestra, Tortelier played under the direction of Toscanini and Walter and performed as soloist in Richard Strauss' Don Quixote under the composer's direction.

Though his career advanced in the late 1930s, taking him to Asia and Africa, as well as North and South America, WWII curtailed his activities. After the war, he resumed his concert appearances. Impressed by efforts to establish Israeli statehood, Tortelier (a Catholic) moved his family to Mabaroth, a kibbutz only several hundred yards from the enemy border. The first Prades Festival, celebrating the 200th anniversary of Bach's death in 1950, drew an invitation from Casals to be principal cellist. From 1956 to 1969, Tortelier was a professor at the Paris Conservatoire; from 1969 to 1975, he taught at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen, Germany. Conducting occupied more of his time in later years, as did composition (two concertos included). His book, How I Play, How I Teach, has become a standard text for performance of modern cello works. Read less
Browse 1-9 of 9 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    50 Best Sensual Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 333022 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  James Horner,  Pietro Mascagni,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Nino Rota  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Bernard Pommier,  Cécile Ousset,  Mikhail Rudy,  Natasha Marsh  ... 
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons,  Lawrence Foster,  Simon Rattle,  François-Xavier Roth  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic,  Ahn Trio,  Virtuosi
    CD: $11.99
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  • 2.
    Air: Best Of Bach
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 82151 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Peter Hurford,  Josef Suk,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Richard Egarr  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir David Willcocks,  Paul Tortelier,  Philip Ledger  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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  • 3.
    Summer Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 82156 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Ottorino Respighi,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter,  Susan Milan
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir Neville Marriner,  André Previn,  Paul Tortelier  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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  • 4.
    Classic Lullabies: Music For Sweetest Dreams
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 70829 Release Date: 05/03/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann,  Bernhard Flies,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Truls Otterbech Mork,  Juhani Lagerspetz,  Jean-Bernard Pommier,  Leif Ove Andsnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Jeffrey Tate,  Richard Stamp,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Paul Tortelier  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
    CD: $12.99
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  • 5.
    50 Best Adagios
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 57489 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Pachelbel,  Gregorio Allegri,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Giovanni Scaramuzzino,  Véronique Gens,  David Daniels,  Steven Isserlis  ... 
    Conductor:  Ian Watson,  Andrew Parrott,  Christopher Warren-Green,  Fabio Biondi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players,  Taverner Consort,  Seminario Musicale  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 6.
    Essential Bach
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 95424 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Philip Pickett,  Catherine Latham,  Iona Brown,  William Bennett  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugen Jochum,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Wolfgang Gönnenwein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
    CD: $12.99
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  • 7.
    Essential Cello
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 88582 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Luigi Boccherini  ... 
    Performer:  Han-Na Chang,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Steven Isserlis,  Maggie Cole  ... 
    Conductor:  Christopher Warren-Green,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Juha Kangas,  Kurt Masur  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra members
    CD: $13.99
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  • 8.
    French Connections - Debussy, Faure, Massenet / Tortelier
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 61109 Release Date: 08/06/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Gabriel Pierné,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Tortelier,  José Luis Garcia,  Michael Reeves,  Susan Milan  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Tortelier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 9.
    Peace - Pure Classical Calm
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 76773 Release Date: 01/25/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Tavener,  Karl Jenkins,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Dmitri Alexeev,  Mikhail Pletnev,  Edward Saklatvala,  Arleen Augér  ... 
    Conductor:  David Hill,  Karl Jenkins,  Jerzy Maksymiuk,  Libor Pesek  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester Cathedral Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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Biography

Born: March 21, 1914; Paris, France   Died: December 18, 1990; Villarceaux, France  
A consummate artist whose approach to the cello was directed toward breathing life into the music, Paul Tortelier earned the respect and affection of countless colleagues. An enduring friendship with Pablo Casals found him playing, in the words of a French critic, Apollo to Casals' Jupiter. Like Casals, Tortelier emphasized using but one finger at a time on the string to allow free vibration. Fantasy and emotional freedom marked his performances Read more
WORKS ALBUMS
TITLE/COMPOSER
LABEL
Pavane Op. 50
Pavane Op. 50
Two Elegiac Melodies, Op. 34 (2005 Digital Remaster): No.1: The Wounded Heart: Allegretto espressivo
Two Elegiac Melodies, Op. 34 (2005 Digital Remaster): No.2: Last spring
Suite: From Holberg's Time, Op. 40 (2005 Digital Remaster): 1: Preludium: Allegro vivace
Suite: From Holberg's Time, Op. 40 (2005 Digital Remaster): 2: Sarabande: Andante
Suite: From Holberg's Time, Op. 40 (2005 Digital Remaster): 3: Gavotte: Allegretto - Musette: Un poco mosso - Gavotte
Suite: From Holberg's Time, Op. 40 (2005 Digital Remaster): 4: Air: Andante religioso
Suite: From Holberg's Time, Op. 40 (2005 Digital Remaster): 5: Rigaudon: Allegro con brio