Samson François


Born: May 18, 1924; Frankfurt, Germany   Died: October 22, 1970; Paris, France  
A pupil of Alfred Cortot, but standing apart from others who also studied with the French master, Samson François was a pianist of exceptional persuasiveness in live performance, but only intermittently as arresting in the recording studio. Nonetheless, he left on disc several samples of work approaching his best concert form, albeit with some evidence of the eccentricities critics complained about. His interests were wider than his recorded Read more legacy might suggest; even at his most idiosyncratic, he offered moments of wry humor and rare magic. His life was recalled in some detail in Jérôme Spycket's biography Scarbo, published in 1985. In addition to studies in Paris with Yvonne Lefébure and the esteemed Marguerite Long, François was a student of Alfred Cortot at L'École Normale de Musique, the school Cortot co-founded with Auguste Mangeot. Before François had reached the age of 20, he won the Long-Thibaud Competition and thereafter embarked on a career, one of international scale once WWII had ended. Even during the war, Jacques Thibaud brought François to the attention of Walter Legge, the English recording producer turned wartime concert organizer; François was soon flown to England for an extended tour of factories and camps. Concentrating on the Romantic piano literature, and especially the French repertory, he was acclaimed for his performances of Liszt, Schumann, and Chopin, as well as Fauré, Debussy, and Ravel. His Prokofiev, too, was impressive. French critics and audiences were especially receptive to his virtuosic approach. François found an appreciative audience in London as well, and enjoyed a largely positive reputation there during his mature years. François' early death denied the world a chance to hear how the pianist might have developed had he lived longer, but his recordings, some reissued in the new millennium, preserve sufficient work of high interest to assure him a place as a major artist. Among his remastered and re-released recordings are discs of the Chopin and Ravel piano concertos on EMI's Great Recordings of the Century series. The former, recorded with the Orchestre National de L'Opera de Monte Carlo and its then-director Louis Frémaux, reveals much of what made François special. Containing what Gramophone Magazine deemed "personal and immediate" playing, the artist's quicksilver intensity was awarded with a Diapason d'Or upon its original release. The Ravel recording holds both the concertos, accompanied by André Cluytens and the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, and a mercurial account of the composer's Gaspard de la nuit, all of it a fitting remembrance of an artist who pursued his own singular vision. This disc was originally a recipient of the Prix de L'Académie du Disque français. Among François' other pursuits was that of composition. Among his recordings is one of his own piano concerto. In addition, he once composed music for the legendary jazz singer and cabaret artist Peggy Lee. Read less
Browse 1-11 of 11 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 556099 Release Date: 06/17/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Christian Zacharias,  David Fray,  Fabio Biondi,  Samson François  ... 
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  André Cluytens,  Antonio Pappano,  Tullio Serafin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
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  • 2.
    Chopin: The 2 Piano Concertos / Francois, Fremaux, Monte-Carlo National Opera Orchestra
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 553991 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Samson François
    Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monte Carlo National Opera Orchestra
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  • 3.
    100 Best Film Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 553645 Release Date: 01/08/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Alfred Newman,  Richard Strauss,  John T. Williams,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Nicolai Gedda,  Ernest Blanc,  Augustin Dumay,  Gary Hoffman  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Bateman,  Rudolf Kempe,  Geoff Love,  Mariss Jansons  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Jean-Marie Leclair,  The Hungarian Quartet,  Il Giardino Armonico  ... 
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  • 4.
    50 Most Beautiful Classical Pieces
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 553009 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Christian Zacharias,  Nicolai Gedda,  Kerstin [Mezzo-soprano Vocal] Meyer,  Gré Brouwenstijn  ... 
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  André Cluytens,  David Fray,  Fabio Biondi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante,  Les Arts Florissants,  Concentus Musicus Wien
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  • 5.
    Ravel, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Bartok, Britten: Masterpieces For Piano Left Hand (I)
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 250315 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Alexander Scriabin,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Performer:  Samson François,  Andrei Gavrilov,  Rudolf Serkin,  Gábor Gabos  ... 
    Conductor:  André Cluytens,  Eugene Ormandy,  Benjamin Britten
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  • 6.
    Chopin: Piano Works / Samson Francois
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 8471720 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Samson François
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  • 7.
    Fifty Shades Of Grey: The Classical Album
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 78466 Release Date: 09/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Johann Pachelbel,  Thomas Tallis,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Samson François,  Arleen Augér,  José Luis Garcia,  Peter Barley  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Yan Pascal Tortelier,  Stephen Cleobury  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cellos of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Cellos,  Les Violons du Roy
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  • 8.
    The Debussy Recordings / Samson Francois
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 38754 Release Date: 05/22/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Samson François
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  • 9.
    Best Chopin 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 58513 Release Date: 01/26/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Garrick Ohlsson,  Danielle Laval,  Teresa Llacuna,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    Conductor:  Jerzy Maksymiuk,  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Charles Dutoit,  Paul Kletzki
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra,  Society of the Conservatory Concerts Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 10.
    Ravel: Piano Concertos, Etc / Samson Francois, Cluytens
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 56239 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Samson François
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris
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  • 11.
    Schumann, Liszt, Prokofiev: Piano Concertos / François
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 74324 Release Date: 09/10/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt
    Performer:  Samson François
    Conductor:  Witold Rowicki,  Paul Kletzki,  Constantin Silvestri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  French National Radio Symphony Orchestra
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