Édouard Colonne

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Édouard Colonne
(1838-1910)

French conductor and violinist (b. 23 July 1838 in Bordeaux; d. 28 March 1910 in Paris), born Judas Colonna.

Colonne studied at the Paris Conservatory where he won first prizes in both harmony and violin. From 1858 to 1867 he was first violinist at the Opéra in Paris. In 1873, Colonne, along with music publisher Georges Hartmann, founded the Concert National at the Théâtre de l'Odéon. Two years later, in 1875, the venue changed to the Théâtre du Châtelet, and after breaking with Hartmann, Colonne changed the name of the enterprise to the Association Artistique du Châtelet. The Association eventually became known as "Colonne Concerts". Until it ceased publication in 1880, Colonne also served as editor of the weekly La gazette musicale.

He was noted for his interest in Berlioz (who was then more highly regarded in the English- and German-speaking countries than in France) and for his support of Wagner's and Mahler's music. He was also the first conductor of eminence to make commercial gramophone (phonograph) records (for the Pathé company, 1906).

Tchaikovsky and Colonne

Colonne was the first conductor of several of Tchaikovsky's works in Paris, including the symphonic fantasia The Tempest, the Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Nikolay Rubinstein as soloist), the Symphony No. 4. Tchaikovsky was also the first person to whom Colonne yielded his place at the conductor's podium, and the composer had great respect for Colonne as a musician and conductor, assisting his conducting tours in Moscow.

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

15 letters from Tchaikovsky to Édouard Colonne have survived, dating from 1876 to 1892, of which the ones highlighted in bold are now available in English translations on this site:

Letter 1122 was sent to the editor of the newspaper La gazette musicale for publication. The addressee of Letter 4782b has only tentatively been identified as Colonne.

11 letters from Colonne to the composer, dating from 1879 to 1892, are preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive.

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