Biography of Fournet Jean:
Being one of the more modest “capellmeister” conductors, Jean Fournet (1913-2008) never achieved the fame of many of his contemporaries. After first tuition from his father, a flutist, Fournet
was trained at the Paris Conservatoire by Gaston Blanquart, Marcel Moyse, and Philippe Gaubert. From 1936 he first established himself as a conductor in Rouen and Marseilles, before becoming director of the Paris Opéra-Comique for the period 1944-57; during this period he conducted all important French orchestras to high acclaim. His debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam was in 1950, and he became principal guest conductor and subsequently music director of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in Hilversum (1961-68 and 1968-73). After having been music director of the newly created Orchestre National de l’Île de France (1973-82), he was the conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra 1983-86 and performed with the orchestra until 2005. His debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago was in 1965 with a double bill of Carmina Burana and L’heure espagnole, the latter with Teresa Berganza, Alfredo Kraus, and Sesto Bruscantini, and his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in New York on 28 March 1987, where he conducted Samson et Dalila. He was known as a gentle perfectionist, rarely raising his voice in rehearsal. Fournet was also a professor of conducting at the École Normale de Musique de Paris 1944-62; later he taught conducting in Hilversum and was president of the jury of the Besançon International Conductor’s Competition for many years. Sadly his recorded estate is rather restricted – his only studio operatic recordings being the present Pêcheurs de perles, Charpentier’s Louise and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande (all for Philips). He was famed for his readings of Fauré’s and Berlioz’s Requiems; for his 1952 recording of Debussy’s Trois Nocturnes with the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire he received the Grand Prix du Disque. Most of his recordings were made with Dutch orchestras and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.