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Cellist and Conservatoire Professor (1892-1964)

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Born in Dijon, Maurice Maréchal began studying the cello from a very early age (around seven or eight years old) at the "Conservatoire" in the same town. He was accepted into the "Conservatoire de Paris" in November 1905. From 1911 he gave his first solo concerts, but in 1912 he had to undertake his military service. He became a drummer in the Rouen 74th infantry regiment band. War broke out in August 1914. Until February 1919, Maurice Maréchal confided his thoughts daily in his diaries (nine), including tales of tragic events, his hopes and fears.

On a number of occasions he acted as bicycle-messenger ; but, as soon as he could, he sought contact with music, read sheet music and, ultimately, rented an instrument. He came across two like-minded people, good amateur players, with whom he played as a trio. It was in May 1915 that he took possession of a very strange instrument : a cello, made by two soldiers in a munitions factory. "Maréchal needed all his talent to rescue this cube-shaped instrument, which was nicknamed Le Poilu, from derisory and rude remarks" (A. Lambert), and it was with this instrument as his companion that, in 1916, he joined up with the musicians Caplet, Durosoir and Lemoine, already serving together in the 5th division led by General Mangin.

A period of time began during which music erased somewhat the horrors of war; the musicians, playing as a duo, trio, quartet, or quintet, would, during their rest days, devour the music sent to them by their friends and relatives, or which they would bring back with them from their time off.

War at last came to an end and Maurice Maréchal returned to his career as a soloist. He met a young American actress who was to become his wife in 1920. He was at that time "recognised as the most complete French cellist, combining the skills of musical intelligence and domination of the instrument" (A. Lambert). He played the works of his contemporaries: Ravel, Caplet, Durosoir, Tansmann, Ropartz and others. His career developed on the international stage and he performed in concerts throughout Europe, as well as Egypt, the United States of America, Canada, the USSR and Asia.

Then the second world war broke out which, for this particular artist, brought with it a period of limbo for his musical talents. Fortunately, his wife and two children moved to America. When peace was restored, Maréchal sacrificed his time entirely to his career as Professor at the Paris Conservatory and as a jury member for international competitions. He died in Dijon in 1964.

This biography is taken from the book by Alain Lambert
Maurice Maréchal, La voix du violoncelle
Drize, Geneva, Editions Papillon, Coll. 7 enote, 2003

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