LAURENT PETITGIRARD (b 1950 )
Born in 1950, Laurent Petitgirard studied the piano with Serge Petitgirard and composition with Alain Kremski. He is an eclectic musician whose career as a composer of symphonic music (more than twenty works) and of film music (160 scores) is matched by his activity as a guest conductor the world over (Paris Opera Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National de Lyon, de Bordeaux, de Lille, the Bamberg Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony, Orchestras of the Tonhalle, La Fenice, BBC, Utah Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, KBS SO, CBS Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, National Orchestra of Spain, Moscow State Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra and others).
In 1989 Laurent Petitgirard founded the Orchestre Symphonique Français which he conducted until 1996, also directing, from 1986 to 1997, the Festival and the Academy of Flaine (Haute-Savoie). In December 2004 he was chosen by the players as music director of the Orchestre Colonne in Paris and was re-elected from October 2009 until June 2014. He has made some thirty records, notably of Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher and several world première recordings, including Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit in the orchestration by Marius Constant. Petitgirard’s recording of his own Cello Concerto, performed by Gary Hoffman and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, and Le Légendaire for violin, chorus and orchestra, with the work’s dedicatee, Augustin Dumay, as soloist, are available on Naxos 8.557602.
Laurent Petitgirard’s first opera, Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man, with a libretto by Eric Nonn, was first performed in French, in February 2002 at the Prague State Opera, conducted by the composer, with stage direction by Daniel Mesguich. Laurent Petitgirard recorded the opera with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo and with Nathalie Stutzmann in the title rôle (Naxos 8.557608–09). The opera was restaged at Nice Opera from 29 November to 3 December 2002. A DVD of a live performance in Nice was released by Marco Polo (2.220001) and broadcast in 2005 on TF1 and Mezzo. A new production of this opera was presented in May 2006 by Minneapolis Opera.
After Le Fou d’Elsa, a cycle of six songs for mezzo-soprano and orchestrato poems by Louis Aragon, Laurent Petitgirard’s more recent works include Le Plus Ardent à Vivre, a septet with harp, given its première by Marielle Nordmann, Poème for large string orchestra (Naxos 8.570138) and Dialogue for viola and orchestra, which he recorded in September 2005 with the Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine and the viola player Gérard Caussé (Naxos 8.557602). This piece was presented on 2 October in Paris at the Présences Festival. Laurent Petitgirard gave the première of his symphonic poem, Les Douze Gardiens du Temple (commissioned by Radio-France) with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg at the Présences Festival in February 2006 in Paris. Since 1984 his works have been published by Éditions Durand.
Laurent Petitgirard’s second opera, Guru, has a libretto written in collaboration with Xavier Maurel. His original score for Le Petit Prince, staged by Sonia Petrovna, was performed at the Avignon Opera in May 2010, and he is composing a concerto for cor anglais and orchestra. In February 2009 he conducted Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ at the Toulon Opera and, in April–May 2009, Philippe Hersant’s Le château des Carpathes at the Rennes Opera and in Paris at the Salle Pleyel.
Since 2002 Laurent Petitgirard has recorded for Naxos, which has released three CDs and a DVD of his symphonic works, his first opera, and Maurice Ravel’s complete ballet Daphnis et Chloé (8.570075), with the Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine. In the 2009–2010 season, he conducted a series of concerts in Budapest, Moscow, Strasbourg, Beijing, Nice, Lancino and elsewhere. For cinema and television, he has written scores for directors including Otto Preminger, Jacques Demy, Francis Girod, Peter Kassovitz, Pierre Schoendoerffer, Claude Danna, Jean-Claude Brialy, Jean Larriaga, Patrick Timsit, Laurent Heyneman, Michel Boisrond, Denis Amar, Pierre Granier Deferre, Bernard Queysannes, Alain Tasma, Pierre Joassin, Charles Nemes, Jacques Fansten, Florian Gallenberger, and Edouard Niermans, among others. He received the Young Composer’s Prize of the SACD (Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques) in 1987, the SACEM (Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique) Prize in 1990, the Grand Prix Lycéen for Composers in 2000 for his Cello Concerto and the Prix Musique 2001 of the SACD for his opera Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man. In December 2000 he was elected Member of the French Institute, taking the seat of Marcel Landowski at the Académie des Beaux-Arts.
Little Prince, Huge Imagination: Laurent Petitgirard talks to Jeremy Siepmann