BECHARA EL-KHOURY (b 1957 )
Bechara El-Khoury was born in Beirut in 1957 and started his musical studies in Lebanon, moving in 1979 to Paris for study with Pierre-Petit, then director of the École Normale de Musique. The televised gala concert of his works on 9 December 1983 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris with the Orchestre Colonne conducted by Pierre Dervaux, to mark the centenary of the Lebanese-American philosopher and poet Khalil Gibran, proved groundbreaking in El-Khoury’s career. In 1987 he took French nationality.
Bechara El-Khoury spent his earlier years during the terrible war in Lebanon. In memory of this dark period he composed a musical trilogy (Symphonic Poem No. 1 ‘Lebanon in Flames’, the Requiem ‘Aux martyrs libanais de la guerre’ [Naxos 8.557691] and the Symphony ‘The Ruins of Beirut’ [Naxos 8.557043]). His works have been played by leading orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France, the Orchestre de Paris, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, among others, with conductors including Pierre Dervaux, Daniel Harding, Martyn Brabbins, Kurt Masur, Jean-Claude Casadesus, Daniele Gatti, and Paavo Järvi.
After the major works Les Fleuves engloutis (The Rivers Engulfed) and New York, Tears and Hope, dedicated to the victims of 11 September 2001 [Naxos 8.570134], recent notable compositions are Unfinished Journey for violin and string orchestra (2009) and War Concerto (Concerto No. 2) for violin and orchestra (2010) written for the violinist Daniel Hope, the Symphonic Poem No. 6, ‘Espaces-Fragmentations’ (2011), a commission from Radio France, first performed by Daniele Gatti and the Orchestre National de France, as well as two commissions from the Orchestre de Paris, Poème Nocturne for flute and orchestra (2009) and the richly orchestrated Orages (2013) first performed under the direction of Paavo Järvi.
Read interview with Bechara El-Khoury