Maurice Maréchal


Born: 1892 Died: 1964
Maréchal started cello lessons as a young child and made his public debut at ten. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire under Jules Leopold-Loeb, and won first prize at the age of 15 with the Davidov Second Concerto. He graduated at the age of 19.

He joined the Lamoureux Orchestra as the deputy principal cellist and, before long, as the principal. A benefit of this employment was that well-known conductors frequently appeared as guests with it, and Maréchal had a chance to observe their different podium styles and interpretations.

He entered military service when World War I broke out. Naturally, he did not take his cello along. But when he discovered that two of his comrades were carpenters and woodworkers he got them to make a primitive cello from the wood of a gunpowder chest. It was serviceable, and with it Maréchal entertained his fellow soldiers throughout the war.

He was demobilized after the war. He settled in Paris, marrying an American, Louise Perkins. From that base, he started an international touring career.

He became especially well-known for championing contemporary French music. He worked closely with composer Maurice Ravel while the latter was composing one of his least-known masterworks, the Sonata for Violin and Cello. Marechal premiered the work with violinist Helene Jourdan-Morhange. He premiered Epiphanie, an exceptionally difficult and highly unappreciated masterpiece by Debussy's former associate Andre Caplet. Leopold Stokowski invited him to come to America and premiere it with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Maréchal is credited with having helped establish today's view of French music as beautiful, refined in tone, and making its point by emphasis of shading. This is especially notable in subsequent French cello playing.

His career was again interrupted by war. When the Germans occupied France in 1940, Maréchal supported the Resistance. He also steadfastly refused all offers to play in Germany, or even on the German-dominated French radio program concerts. He concentrated on teaching, succeeding as cello professor at the Paris Conservatoire on the death of cellist Gerard Hekking.

The interruption to his career was especially regrettable in his case because by the time he resumed his career he was stricken with a progressive muscular disease that took the strength from his bowing arm. He gave his last concerts in 1950, and spent the rest of his life teaching and appearing on international juries.

His student Christine Walewska recalls that he stressed musical intuition, even over the express markings in the score. "Play surrendering yourself wholly to the music you are performing, and with much liberty," he advised her.

There are 3 Maurice Maréchal recordings available.

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