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In the Spring of 1873 the music publisher Georges Hartmann and a violinist from the Paris Opéra, Edouard Colonne, organised a series of concerts under the title of ‘Concert National’ at the Théâtre de l’Odéon. The objective was clear, to bring French composers to the attention of a broad public. Edouard Colonne was the conductor and as such made a brilliant début. Despite his success, however, the financial cost of the undertaking forced Hartmann to withdraw his support. Strengthened by his personal success, Colonne founded his own orchestra, the Association Artistique, which from November 1873 was housed in the Théâtre du Châtelet. The Concerts Colonne promoted the contemporary music of the time, featuring Berlioz, in particular La damnation de Faust, Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Fauré, d’Indy, Charpentier, Debussy, Widor, Dukas, Ravel, Chabrier, and also Wagner and Richard Strauss. Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Grieg, Richard Strauss and Prokofiev all came to conduct their works at the Concerts Colonne. The L’Orchestre Colonne can proudly claim to have welcomed, since it was founded, the greatest conductors and, more recently, Sylvain Cambreling, Dennis Russell Davies, Michel Corboz, Kent Nagano, Mauricio Kagel, and Lovro von Matačić, among others. In 1910 Gabriel Pierné took over from Edouard Colonne and was in turn succeeded by Paul Paray in 1932, Charles Munch in 1956, and Pierre Dervaux in 1958 until 1992. Laurent Petitgirard is the music director since 2004.

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