Maurice Gendron

Biography

Maurice Gendron's family was poor and his mother helped support them by playing cello in a local silent movie house. She would take him to the theater, where he had his first exposure to musical performance. He learned to read music when he was three, was given a violin at four, and took an instant dislike to it, but at five he was given a quarter-sized cello and it immediately appealed to him.

His first teacher was Stephane Odero, who
Read more recognized that the boy had a notable talent and took him to the great cellist Emanuel Feuermann when Maurice was ten. He always remembered Feuermann's encouragement and kindness and held him as his idol. His teacher referred him for more study with Jean Mangot of the Nice Conservatoire when he was 11. Gendron was formally admitted to that Conservatoire at age 12 and he graduated from it at age 14 with a first prize.

As yet, he did not even own a cello. A well-wisher bought him a cello and a train ticket so he could go to Paris, where he had been admitted to the Conservatoire to study with the great Gérard Hekking. Gendron had to live in an unheated room and sell newspapers to make a living.

When war began in 1939, Gendron was exempted from military service due to his malnourishment. In 1940, the Germans overran the country. Despite his earlier classification as unfit for duty, Gendron became an active member of the Resistance. He refused direct orders from the Nazis to go to Germany to play, which almost got him arrested and shipped out anyway.

During the war, he met many of the leading artists of France, including writer Jean Cocteau, pianist Jean Neveu and his violinist sister Ginette, Picasso, and composers Jean Françaix and Francis Poulenc. He formed a cello-piano duo with Françaix that lasted for 25 years. Another close friend was legendary Rumanian pianist Dinu Lipatti. They gave memorable performances, but Lipatti's worsening leukemia and early death made preserving these on recordings impossible.

Immediately after the war, the British vocal-piano team of Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten made important concert tours through ravaged Europe. The famous art historian Kenneth Clarke introduced Britten to Gendron. Through Britten, Gendron received an invitation to play in London, where he performed the Western premiere of Prokofiev's cello concerto. His solo debut at Wigmore Hall on December 2, 1945, was with Britten as his partner in sonatas by Fauré and Debussy. On the same program were composer/pianist Francis Poulenc and his new partner, the young baritone Pierre Bernac, also making London debuts.

Gendron's idol Feuermann died in New York during the war. Gendron traveled there for a memorial concert, which was also his American debut. During the postwar years, Gendron traveled to Prades, where the great cellist Pablo Casals had just made his residence, and played a Bach solo cello suite for the master. Casals congratulated him on not copying his own interpretation and they formed a strong professional friendship. Later, when Gendron was asked by Philips Records to record the Boccherini Concerto in B flat and the Haydn D major, Gendron agreed and suggested Casals as conductor. The company received a surprise when Casals readily agreed, the only instance where the master conducted another cellist in a solo performance. The disc remains a classic recording and is notable for the performers' devotion to historical authenticity, for they had consulted the original manuscripts housed in the Dresden State Library in preparing it.

Gendron had an extensive teaching career, having been appointed to the Paris Conservatoire in 1970. He has also taught at the Mozarteum in Salzburg; the Menuhin School in Surrey, England; and in Saarbrücken. He was known not only as an outstanding soloist but as a fine ensemble player, ever alert to all the nuances of his partners. His instrument is a fine Stradivari. His recordings include much of the standard repertoire and some twentieth century French music. The qualities of his playing most mentioned by critics are outstanding technique and expressive tone, with impeccable phrasing and remarkable transparency, especially in French music. Read less
Browse 1-5 of 5 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Essential Schubert
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 78158 Release Date: 02/07/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Anneliese Rothenberger,  Gerald Moore,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Laszlo Varga  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden,  Robert Heger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London,  Chilingirian String Quartet
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  • 2.
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: ARPCD0442 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Robert Schumann,  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  Maurice Gendron
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
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  • 3.
    Rarities Of Andre Cluytens
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: ARPCD0298 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Robert Schumann,  Sergei Prokofiev
    Performer:  Johanna Martzy,  Maurice Gendron,  Michael Rabin
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
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  • 4.
    Best Schubert 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 80429 Release Date: 11/01/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Elmar Schloter,  Sir Philip Ledger,  Alfredo Dallapozza,  Lucia Popp  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Herbert von Karajan,  Yehudi Menuhin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Haydn, Boccherini: Cello Concertos / Gendron, Leppard
    Label: Philips Concert Classics   Catalog: 422481 Release Date: 04/07/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Luigi Boccherini
    Performer:  Maurice Gendron
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Debussy: 3 Sonatas, String Quartet, Syrinx / Grumiaux, Gendron
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 442655 Release Date: 01/28/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Roger Bourdin,  Annie Challan,  Colette Lequien,  István Hajdu  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quartetto Italiano
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  • 7.
    Schumann: Symphonies 1 & 2, Piano Concerto, Cello Concerto / Lipatti, Gendron, Ansermet
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4800078 Release Date: 11/17/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Dinu Lipatti,  Maurice Gendron,  Edmond Leloir
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
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  • 8.
    Yehudi Menuhin - The Great EMI Recordings
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64131 Release Date: 04/21/2009   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Lili Boulanger,  Ernest Bloch,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Ferguson Webster,  Derek Simpson,  Robert Masters  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  John Pritchard,  George Enescu,  Sir William Walton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Colonne Concerts Orchestra  ... 
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  • 9.
    Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake Suite, Rococco Variations, Symphony No 6 / Ansermet
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4800563 Release Date: 04/10/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Maurice Gendron
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Beethoven: Triple Concerto Op 56;  Brahms: Double Concerto Op 102 / Kertesz, Menuhin, Gendron
    Label: Bbc Legends   Catalog: 4252 Release Date: 02/24/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Hephzibah Menuhin,  Maurice Gendron,  Yehudi Menuhin
    Conductor:  István Kertész
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Ultimate Cello Classics - The Essential Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000972402 Release Date: 09/11/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Tomaso Albinoni,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Julian Lloyd Webber,  Samuel Sanders,  Heinrich Schiff,  John Birch  ... 
    Conductor:  Václav Neumann,  Nicholas Cleobury,  Maxim Shostakovich,  Yan Pascal Tortelier  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations / Gendron, Ansermet, Et Al
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1310 Release Date: 03/09/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Jean Françaix,  Maurice Gendron
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Trio - Tchaikovsky: Complete Concertos /Haas, Accardo, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 475256 Release Date: 03/09/2004   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Werner Haas,  Salvatore Accardo,  Maurice Gendron
    Conductor:  Eliahu Inbal,  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Beethoven, Mozart, Bridge: Trios / Menuhin, Gendron, Britten
    Label: Bbc Legends   Catalog: 4134 Release Date: 11/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frank Bridge,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Maurice Gendron,  Benjamin Britten
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  • 15.
    Masters Of The Bow - Cello / Rostropovich, Casals, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000020902 Release Date: 05/13/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Olivier Messiaen,  Gabriel Fauré,  Scott Joplin,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice Gendron,  Jean Françaix,  Bruno Canino,  Lynn Harrell  ... 
    Conductor:  Constantine Orbelian,  Nicholas Cleobury,  Riccardo Chailly,  Willem van Otterloo  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Chamber Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 16.
    Brahms: String Sextets 1 & 2 / Menuhin, Masters, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics Encore   Catalog: 74957 Release Date: 03/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Robert Masters,  Cecil Aronowitz,  Ernst Wallfisch  ... 
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  • 17.
    Label: Cello Classics   Catalog: 11006 Release Date: 11/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Emanuel Moor,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ennio Bolognini  ... 
    Performer:  Wilfred Parry,  Zara Nelsova,  Pablo Casals,  Blas Net  ... 
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  • 18.
    Ravel: Chamber Music; Debussy: Chamber Music
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4683062 Release Date: 04/30/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Jean Françaix,  Maurice Gendron,  István Hajdu,  Arthur Grumiaux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Beaux Arts Trio
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  • 19.
    Schubert: Music For Violin And Piano / Goldberg, Lupu
    Label: London/Decca Double Decker   Catalog: 466748 Release Date: 03/13/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Szymon Goldberg,  Radu Lupu,  Maurice Gendron,  Jean Françaix
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  • 20.
    The Best Of Handel / Marriner, Schröder, Gardiner, Et Al
    Label: Philips Duo   Catalog: 454029 Release Date: 04/09/1996   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Jean-Claude Hermanjat,  André Pépin,  Ursula Holliger,  Dame Janet Baker  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Raymond Leppard,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Lorin Maazel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  I Musici,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 21.
    Beethoven: Complete Music For Cello & Piano / Rostropovich, Richter, Gendron, Et Al
    Label: Philips Duo   Catalog: 442565 Release Date: 10/11/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Maurice Gendron,  Jean Françaix,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Mstislav Rostropovich
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  • 22.
    Bach: The 6 Cello Suites / Maurice Gendron
    Label: Philips Duo   Catalog: 442293 Release Date: 08/16/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Maurice Gendron
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  • 23.
    The Best Of Boccherini
    Label: Philips Duo   Catalog: 438377 Release Date: 08/10/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Luigi Boccherini,  Franz Xaver Pokorny
    Performer:  Denis Vigay,  Stephen Shingles,  Pepe Romero,  Iona Brown  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard,  Pablo Casals
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Musici,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.  ... 
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  • 24.
    The Early Years - Maurice Gendron
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 438960 Release Date: 12/1994   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice Gendron,  Peter Gallion,  Jean Françaix
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