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Jean-Claude Casadesus

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A member of one of France's most distinguished musical families, Jean-Claude Casadesus has gained international acclaim for his founding and development of the Orchestre National de Lille. Equally adept at conducting the orchestral and operatic repertories, Casadesus has made a great number of recordings for a number of labels. After studies at the Paris Conservatoire where he won a first prize, Casadesus, interested in jazz as classical forms, began his career as a percussionist, even as his training as a composer led to commissions to write film and theater scores. Further studies, this time in conducting with Pierre Dervaux in Paris and Pierre Boulez in Basle, preceded his appointment as principal conductor at the Théâtre du Châtelet and later at the Opéra de Paris and Opera-Comique. In his first assignment, he learned control over his conducting arm and galvanized his musicians while conducting the same repertory with great frequency (La Périchole some 300 times). With Dervaux, he formed the Orchestre Philharmonique de Pays de Loire in 1971 and remained assistant musical director there until 1976. In April 1976, he was sent to Lille to save a faltering ORTF orchestra. Only 33 musicians remained and they were severely demoralized by the depressed economic conditions they faced. Casadesus worked with those players while lobbying for better working conditions. He succeeded beyond all hopes and guided the ensemble to international recognition and tours through 30 countries to many of the world's most important music capitals, including Berlin, New York, London, Amsterdam, Moscow, Salzburg, and St. Petersburg. In 1985, the Orchestre National de Lille made the first tour of Africa by a full symphonic ensemble. Casadesus' stature as a guest conductor rose as well, placing him before the major orchestras of London, Vienna, Moscow, Dresden, Prague, and Leipzig. In addition to his work with his own orchestra, Casadesus has regularly conducted at the Lille Opera and at France's other important houses in Paris and Lyon. Festivals at Orange and Aix-en-Provence have invited him on several occasions, as well. Among Casadesus' recordings are excellent ones of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, Stravinsky's Petroushka and L'oiseau de feu, and Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust.

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