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Pierre Fournier

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Pierre Fournier (1906-1986) was born in Paris on June 24, and known in his lifetime as « the aristocrat of cellists, » because of his lyrical playing, and for his impeccable artistic sensitivity.

Fournier was the son of a French army general, and as a child was taught piano by his mother. At the age of nine he suffered a mild case of polio, and lost some of the dexterity in his legs and feet. No longer able to master the use of the piano pedals, he searched for another musical instrument, and turned to the cello.

He quickly made good progress on his new instrument, and was able to win entrance to the Paris Conservatoire, where he became a pupil of Paul Bazelaire, and later Anton Hekking. He graduated at the age of seventeen, in the year 1923. Maurice Marechal called him « the cellist of the future. » Even at such a young age, Fournier had tremendous virtuosity, and was famous for his bowing facility. Fournier was a friend of another great French cellist, Tortelier. Once, meeting backstage after a recital by Tortelier, Pierre said to him, « Paul, I wish I had your left hand. » Tortelier replied, « Pierre, I wish I had your right arm! »

Fournier became well known in 1925 after a successful performance with the Edouard Colonne Orchestra in Paris, and began to give concerts all over Europe. Fournier played with all the great musicians of his time, including Cortot, Thibaud, Furtwangler, Karajan and Kubelik.

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