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Charles Munch (1891 - 1968)


Charles Munch’s uncle was the distinguished missionary and organist Albert Schweitzer, and his father was the Alsatian choral conductor and organist Ernst Münch (1859–1928), who gave his son his first music lessons on the violin. Charles studied the violin at the Strasbourg Conservatoire, where his father was a professor, and continued with Lucien Capet in Paris in 1912 and Carl Flesch in Berlin. As Alsace was part of Germany at the outbreak of World War I, he was conscripted into the German army and saw active service: he was made a sergeant of artillery, was gassed at Peronne and wounded at Verdun. Following the end of hostilities he returned to Alsace-Lorraine (now part of France), and took French citizenship. Munch became a professor of violin at the Strasbourg Conservatoire in 1919 and leader of the Strasbourg Municipal Orchestra. He took up the same position at the Leipzig Conservatory in 1925, serving also as the leader of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, whose conductors during this period included Fritz Busch, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Bruno Walter. It was in Leipzig that he had his first experience of conducting.

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