Orchestre National de France

The Orchestre National de France was the first permanent symphony orchestra to be established in France in 1934, under the auspices of Radio France. Throughout its history of performing French and world compositions, recordings and tours, the Orchestre National de France has given concerts in the company of exceptional artists, testifying once more its commitment to excellence. Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht, its first resident conductor, founded the Orchestra’s musical tradition. After the War, Manuel Rosenthal, André Cluytens, Roger Désormière, Charles Munch, Maurice Le Roux and Jean Martinon perpetuated this tradition. Sergiu Celibidache, who was the Orchestra’s first Guest Conductor from 1973 to 1975, was succeeded by Lorin Maazel who became its Music Director. From 1989 to 1998, Jeffrey Tate was the Principal Guest Conductor, while Charles Dutoit was Music Director from 1991 to 2001. Starting in September 2002, Kurt Masur took over the Orchestra’s musical direction for 6 seasons until Daniele Gatti took up this position in September 2008. The orchestra is currently approaching the symphony repertoire featuring performances of French composers such Debussy, Ravel, Berlioz, as well as the complete works by Brahms, Beethoven, Mahler and Tchaikovsky. This season, Schumann’s symphonies are at focus.

The Orchestre National de France takes pride in having given the first performance of some of the major works of the 20th century, such as Soleil des Eaux by Pierre Boulez, the Turangalîla-Symphony by Olivier Messiaen (first performance in France, 1950), Déserts by Edgar Varèse, Jonchaies by Iannis Xenakis (1977), as well as multiple works by Henri Dutilleux: the Symphony No. 1 (1951), Timbres, Espace, Mouvement (1978), the violin concerto L’Arbre des Songes (1985, with Isaac Stern as soloist), the nocturne for violin and orchestra Sur le même accord (first French performance in 2003), and Correspondances for voice and orchestra (first performance of the revised version in 2004) and, recently, Le Temps de l’Horloge with Renée Fleming (2008). The 2013 – 2014 season has seen the orchestra performing the complete works by Beethoven in a series of 5 concerts conducted by Daniele Gatti.

Highlights of this season, upon the Orchestra’s return at Maison de la Radio, will include Félix Mendelssohn, a 2-days Schumann marathon, a series of concerts focused on the topic Toutes les Amériques, a homage to Richard Strauss to celebrate the 150th anniversary since the birth of the German composer, St. John Passion by Bach under the baton of Daniele Gatti, featuring renowned artists such as Bernard Haitink, Fazil Say, Angelika Kirschschlager, Xavier de Maistre, Arabella Steinbacher, Viktoria Mullova, Stéphane Denève, Semyon Bychkov, David Afkham, Alexandre Tharaud…

A great array of recordings highlight the orchestra’s life. The most recent recordings feature Le Temps L’Horloge with Renée Fleming and Seiji Ozawa, Marie-Nicole Lemieux’s album Ne me refuse pas (Naïve) as well as the CD recorded under the Sony label with Debussy under the baton of Daniele Gatti. All concerts performed by the orchestra are broadcast on the radio on France Musique channel. The broadcast of the concerts on web and TV, on such channels as Arte, France 2 and France 3 or Mezzo have given a new dimension to the orchestra’s performances, by opening in this way the concert halls to a wider audience.