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Jean Martinon (1910 - 1976)

Jean Martinon initially studied the violin, first at the Lyons Conservatoire and then at the Paris Conservatoire, where he took the first prize for violin in 1928; subsequently he studied composition with Roussel and conducting with Munch and Désormière. He also took a master’s degree, awarded in 1932, at the Sorbonne, was a violinist in the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra, gave solo recitals and composed. His debut as a conductor took place at a concert with a programme that included one of his own compositions, and in which he was also playing the solo violin; soon afterwards he was asked to deputise for Munch at short notice. With the outbreak of World War II Martinon joined the French army but was taken prisoner in 1940. He spent two years in a German prisoner-of-war camp, escaping and being recaptured three times; while a prisoner he composed several works, including a symphony. His setting of Psalm 136, later known as the Chant des Captifs, was performed by Munch in Paris in 1942 and received a warm reception.




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