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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 1-10 of 10 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.
    The Very Best Of Paul Tortelier
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 21730 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Tortelier,  Maria de La Pau,  Max Rostal,  Shuku Iwasaki  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Tortelier,  Jörg Faerber,  Rudolf Kempe,  Sir Adrian Boult  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 3.
    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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  • 4.
    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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  • 5.
    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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  • 6.
    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: $12.99
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  • 7.
    The Legend Of The Orchestra
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 94539 Release Date: 10/20/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Alexander Borodin,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Georges Prêtre,  Christopher Warren-Green  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD not available
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  • 8.
    Best Cello 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64275 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Georg Matthias Monn,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Pablo Casals,  Paul Tortelier,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Lynn Harrell  ... 
    Conductor:  Pinchas Zukerman,  Christopher Warren-Green,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Iona Brown  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Linde Consort,  Nash Ensemble,  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic
    CD: $19.99
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  • 9.
    Gemini - Grieg: Orchestral Works, Etc / Barbirolli, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 86513 Release Date: 05/24/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg
    Performer:  Daniel Adni
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Paavo Berglund,  Paul Tortelier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 10.
    Funeral Music
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 82046 Release Date: 02/01/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gabriel Fauré,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Marcos Fink,  Elisabeth Graf,  Jeffrey Francis,  Efrat Ben Nun  ... 
    Conductor:  David Hill,  Roger Norrington,  Michel Corboz,  Paul Tortelier  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester Cathedral Choir,  London Classical Players,  Lausanne Instrumental Ensemble  ... 
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