Szeryng, Henryk

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Born on January 10, 1910 in Lyon, the French conductor and composer, Jean Martinon entered the Lyon and Paris conservatoires to study the violin. At Lyon, his teacher was Maurice Foundray and at the Paris Conservatory, he studied violin technique with Jules Boucherit. While at the Paris conservatory, Martinon took composition with Albert Roussel and Vincent d’Indy. After completing the composition courses, he studied conducting with Charles Munch and Désormière. He graduated from the Paris Conservatory in 1928, winning a premier prix.

Martinon’s familiarity with conducting started in France, followed by various appointments in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. In 1946, he embarked on a conducting career directing the Concerts du Conservatoire in Paris and the Bordeaux Symphony. The successful debut with the LPO led to his appointment as associate conductor of the orchestra in 1947. From 1947-1950 Martinon directed the Radio Eireann orchestra, Dublin and in 1951, he returned to Paris to conduct the Concerts Lamoureux until 1957. From 1957-1959, Martinon conducted the Israel Philharmonic. His appointment as the next conductor of the Düsseldorf Symphony occurred in 1959. Martinon was in Düsseldorf until 1963 when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra selected him as their music director, a position he held until 1968. During that same year, he returned to France to direct the French National Radio Orchestra and served as the principal conductor of the Hague Residentie–Orkest from 1974 until shortly before his death in 1976.

Martinon’s extensive experience as a composer led to his approach to conducting. The Symphoniette pour orchestre á cordes, piano, harpe et timbales, op. 16, from 1935, is one of three first attempts at composition. After enlisting in the war, Martinon’s imprisonment in a German camp, Stalag IX A, resulted in several new compositions, Psaume 136, le Chant des Captifs, Musique d’Exil, Sonatina No.3, Sonatina No. 4 for wind instruments, and various choral works. In 1946, the city of Paris awarded a prize to his composition le Chant des Captifs. After the war, other notable compositions include Symphonie no. 3 (Irlandaise), the Concerto no. 2 pour violin et orchestre, op. 5, dedicated to Szeryng, and the Concerto pour cello et orchestre, op. 52, composed for Pierre Fournier. For the stage Martinon composed two works, the ballet Ambohimanga ou la Cité Bleue and in 1949 the opera Hécube with a libretto by Serge Moreux. Symphony no.4 Altitudes was the outcome of a commission from the Chicago Symphony to commemorate its 75th anniversary.

Martinon had recently taken on a position at the Paris Conservatory to teach conducting when he died from a serious illness on March 1, 1976.

From the guide to the Jean Martinon papers, 1923-1994, (Music Library)

Biographical Sketch

  • 1918 September 22: Born in Zelazowa Wola, Poland
  • 1923: Begins studying piano and hamony with his mother
  • 1926: Studys violin with Maurice Frenkel (student of Leopold Auer)
  • 1927 - 1928 : Continues violin study in Berlin with Willy Hess
  • 1928 - 1932 : Studies with Carl Flesch in Berlin and Baden-Baden at the suggestion of Bronislaw Huberman
  • 1933: Gives first public performances in Warsaw, Bucharest, Vienna and Paris
  • 1934 - 1939 : Studies composition in Paris with Nadia Boulanger; also studies the Humanities (i.e., Ancient History, Philology, and Philosophy); becomes acquainted with Georges Enesco, Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel and other prominent musicians in Paris
  • 1935: Decorated with the Order of "Cultural Merit" by the Queen Mother of Romania
  • 1936 November: Enters Paris Conservatory, studying with Gabriel Bouillon; brief study with Jacques Thibaud
  • 1937 June: Graduates with First Prize from the Paris Conservatory
  • 1939: Moves to London; joins Polish government in exile; appointed translator and liaison officer to General Sikorski, the Prime Minister of the Polish Government-in-exile
  • 1939 - 1942 : Performs over 300 concerts for Allied troops, hospitals, POW centers, etc.
  • 1942: Serves as translator for General Sikorski's trip to Mexico to seek sanctuary for Polish refugees
  • 1943 November 24: Makes Carnegie Hall debut; gives Polish Relief recital
  • 1943: Invited to reorganize string department at the National University of Mexico
  • 1945: Appointed director of the string department at the National University of Mexico
  • 1946: Becomes a Mexican citizen
  • 1954: Meets and plays for Artur Rubinstein, who encourages him to resume his concert career; Rubinstein introduces Szeryng to Sol Hurok
  • 1955: 1957: Awarded Grand Prix du Disque
  • 1957: Makes a twenty-city United States concert tour
  • 1960: Becomes Mexican Cultural Ambassador
  • 1960: 1961: Awarded Grand Prix du Disque
  • 1963: Receives Médaille d'Argent de la Ville de Paris and Edison Award; becomes Officier d'Ordre des Arts et Lettres, Paris
  • 1965: Named Citizen of Honor, Richmond, Virginia
  • 1966 August: Henryk Szeryng Festival of Music is held in Mexico City
  • 1966: Appointed honorary director of the Conservatory of Music in Mexico City; decorated as Commander of the Order of the Finnish Lion in Helsinki for his promotion of the music of Sibelius
  • 1967: 1969: Awarded Grand Prix du Disque
  • 1969: Designated honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music, London
  • 1970: Appointed special music adviser to the Mexican delegation at UNESCO; receives citation from city of Philadelphia; awarded "Key to the City of Kansas City"
  • 1971 May: Receives "Wiener Floetenuhr" award and an "Edison" for a recording of Mozart violin concertos
  • 1971 September: Performs a "Salute to the Kennedy Center" on behalf of Mexico, and is named a "founder artist of the center"
  • 1971 October: Gives first performance since Paganini's time of rediscovered Violin concerto no. 3 with the London Symphony Orchestra, under Alexander Gibson, coinciding with the release of the first recording of the work
  • 1972 January: Plays recital for UNICEF at Teatro Real in Madrid in presence of H.R.H. Princess Sofia of Spain and is presented with Alfonso El Sabio Cross
  • 1972: Receives the insignia of France's Légion d'Honneur
  • 1972 December: Donates his Stradivarius violin to the City of Jerusalem to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the State of Israel. The violin is to be loaned, for playing and performing, to outstanding young Israeli violinists
  • 1973 June: Named Honorary Citizen of Alicante (Spain)
  • 1974 January: Donates his Guarnerius "Sanctae Theresiae" violin to Mexican President Luis Echeverria to be used by gifted young Mexican violinists, preferably leaders of the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra
  • 1974: Receives citations from the city and county of Los Angeles
  • 1975: Named Citizen of Honor, San Luis Potosí
  • 1978 - 1988 : Teaches for two months of the year at the National University of Mexico; travels on a diplomatic passport as Mexican Cultural Ambassador
  • 1978 July 18: Named Citizen of Honor, city of Prades, for Festival of Prades; receives Citation from the city of Miami, Florida
  • 1981: Named Citizen of Honor, Poznan (Poland)
  • 1982: Receives Citation from the city of Kansas City
  • 1983: Celebrates "Golden Jubilee," for 50th year on the concert stage; sixty-concert tour; many special events, awards and citations
  • 1984 January 6: Marries Waltraud Büscher
  • 1985: Designated Officier de l'Ordre de St. Charles, Monaco; awarded "Key to the city of San Diego"
  • 1985 May: Receives Scroll of Honor from Israel Philharmonic
  • 1985 December: Named Officier de Légion d'Honneur
  • 1986 March 20: Appointed "Sagamore of the Wabash" in Indianapolis
  • 1987: Awarded Croix d’Or du Mérite de la République Populaire Polonaise
  • 1988 February: Designated Honorary Fellow, Israel Cancer Association
  • 1988 March 3: Dies in Kassel, West Germany of a cerebral hemorrhage

From the guide to the Henryk Szeryng Collection, 1933-1988, (bulk 1960-1988), (Music Division Library of Congress)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951. Serge Koussevitzky Archive, 1920-1976 (bulk: 1924-1951) Library of Congress. Music Division
creatorOf Henryk Szeryng Collection, 1933-1988, (bulk 1960-1988) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Ambassador Auditorium Collection, 1974-1995 Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries
creatorOf Jean Martinon papers, 1923-1994 Music Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Auer, Leopold, 1845-1930 person
associatedWith Baltimore Symphony Orchestra corporateBody
associatedWith Barraud, Henry, 1900-1997 person
associatedWith Baudo, Serge, 1927- person
associatedWith Berliner Philharmoniker corporateBody
associatedWith Böhm, Karl, 1894-1981 person
associatedWith Borsari, Amédée, 1905-1999 person
associatedWith Boston Symphony Orchestra corporateBody
associatedWith Brisson, Pierre, 1896-1964 person
associatedWith Canarina, John, 1934- person
associatedWith Casadesus, Francis, 1870-1954 person
associatedWith Charles, Edouard person
associatedWith Chicago Symphony Orchestra corporateBody
associatedWith Chouraqui, André, 1917-2007 person
associatedWith Comissiona, Sergiu person
associatedWith Cziffra, Georges, 1921-1994 person
associatedWith Drake University. College of Arts and Sciences corporateBody
associatedWith Düsseldorfer Symphoniker corporateBody
associatedWith Dutilleux, Henri, 1916-2013 person
associatedWith Ferras, Christian, 1933-1982 person
associatedWith Flesch, Carl, 1873-1944 person
associatedWith Fournet, Jean person
associatedWith Fournier, Jean, 1911-2003 person
associatedWith Fournier, Pierre, 1906-1986 person
associatedWith Francescatti, Zino, 1902-1991 person
associatedWith Gavoty, Bernard person
associatedWith Gingold, Josef person
associatedWith Haitink, Bernard, 1929- person
associatedWith Halffter, Cristóbal, 1930- person
associatedWith Hamon, Jean person
associatedWith Hasselmann, Roland person
associatedWith Henze, Hans Werner, 1926-2012 person
associatedWith Hétu, Pierre, 1936-1998 person
associatedWith Indiana University. School of Music corporateBody
associatedWith Inghelbrecht, D. E. (Désiré Emile), 1880-1965 person
associatedWith Jean Martinon Society corporateBody
associatedWith Jolivet, André, 1905-1974 person
associatedWith Karajan, Herbert von person
correspondedWith Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951 person
associatedWith Kubelík, Rafael, 1914-1996 person
associatedWith Landowski, Marcel, 1915-1999 person
associatedWith Lees, Benjamin, 1924-2010 person
associatedWith Leinsdorf, Erich, 1912-1993 person
associatedWith Le Roux, Maurice person
associatedWith Lescuyer, Christian person
associatedWith Loewenguth, Alfred person
associatedWith Lumbroso, Nelly, b. 1877 person
associatedWith Malraux, André, 1901-1976 person
associatedWith Martinon, Jean, 1910-1976 person
associatedWith Menuhin, Yehudi, 1916-1999 person
associatedWith Messiaen, Olivier, 1908-1992 person
associatedWith Mihalovici, Marcel, 1898-1985 person
correspondedWith Mintz, Shlomo, 1957- person
associatedWith Moreux, Serge, 1900-1959 person
associatedWith Munch, Charles, 1891-1968 person
associatedWith Norddeutscher Rundfunk corporateBody
associatedWith Nussy Saint-Saëns, Marcel person
associatedWith Ohana, Maurice, 1913-1992 person
associatedWith Orchestre des concerts Lamoureux corporateBody
correspondedWith Ormandy, Eugene, 1899-1985 person
associatedWith Otterloo, Willem van person
associatedWith Paganini, Nicolò, 1782-1840 person
associatedWith Peck, Donald person
associatedWith Ponce, Manuel M. (Manuel María), 1882-1948 person
associatedWith Proffit, André person
associatedWith Radiodiffusion française. Orchestre national corporateBody
associatedWith Reiner, Fritz, 1888-1963 person
associatedWith Remoortel, Edouard van, 1926-1977 person
associatedWith Rosenthal, Manuel, 1904-2003 person
associatedWith Roussel, Albert, 1869-1937 person
associatedWith Rózsa, Miklós, 1907-1995 person
associatedWith Ruchpaul, Eva, 1928- person
associatedWith Schmidt-Isserstedt, Hans, 1900-1973 person
associatedWith Schoenberg, Gertrud person
associatedWith Serkin, Rudolf, 1903-1991 person
associatedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith Solti, Georg, 1912-1997 person
associatedWith Starker, Janos person
associatedWith Stern, Isaac, 1920-2001 person
associatedWith St. Louis Symphony Orchestra corporateBody
associatedWith Stravinsky, Igor, 1882-1971 person
correspondedWith Szeryng, Waltraud person
associatedWith Ysaÿe, Eugène, 1858-1931 person
Place Name Admin Code Country




Ark ID: w6g2827v

SNAC ID: 44555709