Paul Paray

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Paul Paray (born Le Tréport, May 24, 1886 - died Monte Carlo, October 10, 1979) was a French conductor, organist and composer. He spent the latter part of his life in the USA working with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

His father, Auguste, was a sculptor and organist at St. Jacques church, and leader of an amateur musical society. He put young Paul in the society's orchestra as a drummer. Later, Paul Paray went to Rouen to study music with the abbots Bourgeois and Bourdon, and organ with Haelling. This prepared him to enter the Paris Conservatoire. In 1911, Paul Paray won the Premier Grand Prix de Rome for his cantata Yanitza.

As World War I started, Paul Paray heeded the call to arms and joined the French Army. In 1914 he was a prisoner of war at the Darmstadt camp, where he composed a string quartet.

After the war, Paray was music director of the orchestra of the Casino de Cauterets, which included players from the Lamoureux Orchestra. This was a springboard for him to conduct the Lamoureux Orchestra. Later he was music director of the Concerts Colonne and the Monte Carlo Orchestra.

In 1922 Paray composed the ballet Adonis troublé. In 1931 he wrote the Mass for the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Joan of Arc, which was premiered at the cathedral in Rouen to commemorate the quincentennary of Joan of Arc's martyr death. In 1935 he wrote his Symphony No. 1 in C major, which was premiered at the Concerts Colonne in 1931, and in 1940 his Symphony No. 2 in A major.

Paray made his American debut with the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra in 1939. In 1952 he was appointed music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which he conducted until 1963, as well as made many recordings with them on the Mercury label.

Well known recordings include his performance of Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 in C minor.

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