Charles Munch


Born: September 26, 1891; Strasbourg, France   Died: November 6, 1968; Richmond, VA  
A genial conductor with a particular gift for French music, Charles Münch extended the Boston Symphony's glory years (begun under the baton of Serge Koussevitzky) into the early '60s. Münch was born in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, which at the time (1891) was controlled by Germany and has long hovered between two cultural worlds. Münch himself benefited from both French and German musical training, and his first important musical posts were Read more in Germany. Yet he came to be regarded as the quintessential French conductor, and his recordings of French repertory with the Boston Symphony remain standards by which others are judged. Münch studied violin at the Strasbourg Conservatory, where his father was a professor, and, from 1912, in Paris with Lucien Capet. As an Alsatian, he was conscripted into the German army at the outbreak of World War I. Gassed and wounded as an artillery sergeant, he nevertheless survived the war through sheer resiliency. In 1919, upon returning to Alsace-Lorraine (now back in French hands), he took French citizenship, and a violin professorship in Strasbourg. Nevertheless, his professional interests soon sent him to Germany; he studied violin with Carl Flesch in Berlin, then moved to Leipzig to take a violin professorship at the conservatory there, and then became concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1926 to 1933, during Furtwängler's tenure.

But it was back in Paris, in 1933, where Münch made his successful conducting debut in a self-financed concert with the Straram Orchestra. He conducted the Paris Orchestre de la Société Philharmonique (1935-1938) and in 1937 was named director of the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris, a post he held through World War II. Münch introduced many new works, including, in 1945, Messiaen's L'Ascension; he quickly became known as a conductor attentive to music's larger formal structures, as well as details of color and sonority. Despite his allegiances 25 years before, Münch refused to collaborate with the Nazis, and indeed supported the French resistance; he was awarded the Légion d'honneur in 1945.

Münch's career quickly accelerated after the war. In 1946, he made his debut with the Boston Symphony (and several other American orchestras) as a guest conductor, and he toured America with the French National Radio Orchestra in 1948. The following year, he was appointed music director of the Boston Symphony, which he took on an unprecedented tour of the Soviet Union in 1956. Münch retired from the BSO in 1962 but continued to guest conduct, and helped Serge Baudo launch the Orchestre de Paris in 1967. On tour in America with that orchestra, he died the following year.

Münch was easygoing in rehearsal, reluctant to drill the spontaneity out of an orchestra. He was particularly noted as an elegant, colorful interpreter of French music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; his recordings of that material with the Boston Symphony for RCA are still regarded as classics of their kind. He was a strong advocate for the Franco-Swiss composers of his own generation, especially Roussel, Milhaud, and Honegger. But he also had a good touch with the conservative contemporary music of other lands, as may be heard in his few but important recordings of Martinu, Piston, and Barber. Indeed, during his Boston years Münch's commitment to American music was almost as strong as his allegiance to new French works. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 114 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Sviatoslav Richter Plays Schumann & Brahms
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 17067 Release Date: 03/23/2018   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms,  Max Reger
    Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter,  Nina Dorliac,  Mstislav Rostropovich
    Conductor:  Alexander Gauk,  Stanislaw Wislocki,  Charles Munch,  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Tribute to Gregor Piatigorsky: Works by Brahms, Saint-Saens & Bloch / Reiner, Munch, RCA Victor Symphony, BSO
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 250368 Release Date: 06/09/2017  
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ernest Bloch
    Performer:  Gregor Piatigorsky,  Nathan Milstein
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner,  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Faure: Requiem - Debussy: Damoiselle elue - Ravel: Sheherazade / Los Angeles
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350137 Release Date: 05/26/2017  
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Victoria de los Angeles,  Claude Monteux,  Carole Smith
    Conductor:  André Cluytens,  Charles Munch,  Georges Prętre
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elisabeth Brasseur Chorus,  Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 4.
    New York Philharmonic: 175th Anniversary Edition
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 533636 Release Date: 04/07/2017   Number of Discs: 65
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ambroise Thomas  ... 
    Performer:  Oscar Levant,  Robert Casadesus,  Isaac Stern,  Yo-Yo Ma
    Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg,  Josef Stransky,  Arturo Toscanini,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 5.
    Chausson & Debussy: French Music / Munch, Ferrier, Boston Symphony
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 250345 Release Date: 11/25/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernest Chausson,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Sir John Barbirolli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Hallé Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Byron Janis: The RCA Recordings 1950-1959
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 88985313302 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt,  Richard Strauss,  Andrey Schulz-Evler  ... 
    Performer:  Byron Janis
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner,  Charles Munch,  Hugo Winterhalter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Hugo Winterhalter & His Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Charles Munch: The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 516979 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 86
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Vincent D'Indy  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Artur Rubinstein,  Margaret Roggero,  Leslie Chabey  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Harvard Glee Club  ... 
    CD: $226.99
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  • 8.
    The Golden Era of Living Stereo: Remastered Collector's Edition
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 532174 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Pietro Nardini,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Stuart Sankey,  Ania Dorfmann,  Leonid Kogan,  Andrei Mitnik  ... 
    Conductor:  Howard Mitchell,  Arthur Fiedler,  Arturo Basile,  Robert Shaw  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Festival Quartet,  Portland Symphonic Choir,  Choir Of The Abbey Of Mount Angel  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
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  • 9.
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 262 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Francis Poulenc,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Arthur Honegger  ... 
    Performer:  Carol Smith,  Victoria de los Angeles,  Phyllis Curtin,  Adele Addison
    Conductor:  Lorna Cooke De Varon,  Charles Munch
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  • 10.
    Un siecle de musique francaise (A Century of French Music)
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192862 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Claude Debussy,  Erik Satie,  Olivier Messiaen  ... 
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton,  Gervase de Peyer,  Michel Dalberto,  Daniel Varsano  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Charles Munch,  Seiji Ozawa,  Richard Marlow  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Musique Vivante,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 11.
    Un Siecle de Musique Francaise: Escales Symphoniques
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192992 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Darius Milhaud,  Vincent D'Indy,  Jacques Ibert,  Arthur Honegger  ... 
    Performer:  Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer,  Natalie Dessay
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Leonard Bernstein,  Pierre Boulez,  Jacques Mercier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  National Orchestra d'Ile de France
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  • 12.
    Un Siecle de Musique Francaise: Francis Poulenc
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192942 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Mathieu Dufour,  Paul Meyer,  Eric Le Sage,  Kolja Blacher  ... 
    Conductor:  Stéphane Denčve,  Charles Munch
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  • 13.
    Un Siecle de Musique Francaise: Hector Berlioz
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192882 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Cesare Valletti,  Rosalind Elias,  Giorgio Tozzi
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
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  • 14.
    Yehudi Menuhin: The Complete American Victor Recordings
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 519854 Release Date: 05/06/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Edouard Lalo,  Max Bruch,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Adolf Baller,  Wanda Landowska,  Carroll Hollister  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux,  Charles Munch,  Antal Doráti,  George Enescu
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 15.
    The Menuhin Century: Luxury Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555050 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 91
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny,  Arcangelo Corelli  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen,  Artur Balsam,  Marcel Gazelle  ... 
    Conductor:  Landon Ronald,  Pierre Monteux,  Jean Fournet,  Anatole Fistoulari  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Colonne Concerts Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $250.99
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  • 16.
    The Menuhin Century: The Historic Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555052 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonín Dvorák,  Niccolň Paganini  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Gerald Moore,  George Enescu,  David Oistrakh  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Edward Elgar,  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire  ... 
    CD: $58.49
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  • 17.
    William Primrose: A XXth Century Violist
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 250324 Release Date: 01/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Hector Berlioz,  Béla Bartók,  Sir William Walton
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  William Primrose
    Conductor:  Izler Solomon,  Charles Munch,  Tibor Serlih,  Sir William Walton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New Symphony Orchestra of London  ... 
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  • 18.
    Dutilleux: The Centenary Edition
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 553029 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Henri Dutilleux
    Performer:  Joel Esher,  Jordan Swaim,  Rachael Plotkin,  Mstislav Rostropovich  ... 
    Conductor:  Paavo Järvi,  Charles Munch,  Georges Prętre,  Mstislav Rostropovich  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sine Nomine String Quartet
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  • 19.
    Beethoven, Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos / Munch, Heifetz, Boston Symphony
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88691939212 Release Date: 08/14/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Orchestre National de France: 80 ans de Concerts Inedits
    Label: Radio France   Catalog: 20 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Edouard Lalo,  Albert Roussel,  Francis Poulenc  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre [Baritone Vocals] Bernac,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Irma Kolassi,  Victoria de los Angeles  ... 
    Conductor:  Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht,  Paul Paray,  Charles Munch,  Roger Desormičre  ... 
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  • 21.
    Charles Munch In Moscow
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 2279 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Arthur Honegger,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Albert Roussel
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  USSR State Academy Symphony Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Berlioz: Romeo et Juliette / Munch, Boston Symphony
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 38433 Release Date: 01/14/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Margaret Roggero,  Leslie Chabey,  Yi-Kwei Sze
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Radcliffe Choral Society,  Harvard Glee Club,  Boston Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $24.99
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  • 23.
    The Great Live Concerts
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 121270 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    CD: $29.99
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  • 24.
    Phase 4 Stereo - Stereo Concert Series
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002188302 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 41
    Composer:  John Philip Sousa,  Charles A. Zimmerman,  Francis S. Van Boskerck,  George Norton  ... 
    Performer:  Stanley Black,  David Parkhouse,  Alan Loveday,  Robert Merrill  ... 
    Conductor:  Rodney Bashford,  Stanley Black,  Bernard Herrmann,  Edward Downes  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grenadier Guards Band,  London Festival Orchestra,  London Festival Recording Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 25.
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 10183 Release Date: 09/12/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Johannes Brahms,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner
    CD: $13.99
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