Notes and Narratives
Edited By Una Hunt and Mary Pierse
Maestro, Magician, Midwife: Jean Martinon in Dublin
Jean Martinon (1910–1976) is now best known as a French conductor who left a legacy of considerable merit in recordings of works by Debussy, Ravel and Prokofiev.1 However, in mid-twentieth-century Ireland, before he achieved fame on both sides of the Atlantic, he had a significant impact on the Dublin musical scene through his involvement with the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra, with Our Lady’s Choral Society, and in giving master classes in composing and conducting in the city.
This story involves a local impact from the chance intersection of two spheres: the one global, momentous and the cause of relief to millions worldwide; the other personal, intimate and the occasion of misery for one individual.
At the end of the Second World War, because of its wartime neutral stance, Ireland found itself in a state of some isolation, devoid of friends on the international stage. In an effort to remedy this it was proposed, as a means of propaganda, to establish a short-wave radio station broadcasting initially to the United States. What the broadcasters had in mind by way of programmes was what a cultured Irishman might invite a cultured American to listen to.2 This was a high aspiration given that cultured Americans of a musical bent would have regularly heard orchestras under the direction of conductors such as Arturo Toscanini and Eugene Ormandy. ← 199 | 200 →
In this context, it was recognised that orchestral resources at Radio Éireann would have to be...
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