Anatole Fistoulari

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Anatole Fistoulari



Anatole Fistoulari

Anatole Fistoulari (August 20, 1907 – August 21, 1995) was a noted 20th century conductor.

Anatole Fistoulari was born in Kiev Ukraine into a musical family (his father, Gregor Fistoulari, studied with Rimsky-Korsakov and Anton Rubinstein and was a well-known conductor). Anatole conducted for the first time at the age of seven, on the program Tchaikovsky's Symphony #6, the 'Pathetique'. In 1931, he conducted several seasons in Paris for the great Russian bass Fyodor Chaliapin, who clearly thought the world of him. This may have been the basis of Fistoulari's talent for accompanying soloists as it has been said that if you could accompany Chaliapin you could conduct for anybody. In 1933, he began his collaboration with Léonide Massine's Ballets Russes in Paris, touring in London and all over the United States in 1937. In 1939 he joined the French army and after their defeat by Hitler escaped to England and found himself in London during World War II. In 1942 Fistoulari married Anna Mahler, daughter of the famed composer Gustav Mahler (by whom he had a daughter, Marina, in 1943). In 1943, he was appointed principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. During this period, he had a contract for 120 concerts, which was a nearly unbelievable responsibility for the youthful conductor. He needed to widen his repertoire to include items like his father-in-law's Fourth Symphony to accommodate his busy concert schedule. In 1948, he became a British citizen. He conducted opera and concert schedules especially with either the London Philharmonic or London Symphony Orchestras. He conducted operas in New York and was a guest conductor in many countries. In 1956, he toured France and the USSR with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ultimately, his legacy is through his studio recordings made during the late 1940s through the mid-1960s. Anatole Fistoulari was always a specialist in the interpretation of ballet music. He was also a noted conductor of Tchaikovsky and the Russian School, as well as romantic and impressionistic French music. In the 1950s his recordings mostly for MGM, Decca, EMI, RCA and Mercury provided some prestige and popularity for him. Of special note, the Mercury performances of Sylvia by Léo Delibes and Giselle by Adolphe Adam. He recorded all three Tchaikovsky ballets. He recorded for Decca, the Tchaikovsky Swan Lake a total of three times—once, in 1952, (slightly abridged) with the London Symphony—a second (of highlights) now legendary performance, in stereo with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam in February 1961 and (this time, uncut) in 1973, a Decca Phase Four Series (3 disc set), featuring Ruggiero Ricci as violin soloist. He made his last recordings with Decca Phase Four in the early 1970s, including Tchaikovsky's Symphony #4. Besides his ballet recordings, Fistoulari served as recording accompanist to many legendary singers including Jan Peerce, Inge Borkh, Victoria de los Ángeles, and Boris Christoff, pianists like Edwin Fischer, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Clifford Curzon, Wilhelm Kempff, Earl Wild and Shura Cherkassky as well as violinists like Yehudi Menuhin and Nathan Milstein. He died in London on August 21, 1995, having suffered for many years, crippled with arthritis.


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