Ernest Ansermet (Conductor)
Born: 11th November 1883, Vevey
Died: 20th February 1969, Geneva
The Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet (1883-1969) began his working life as a maths professor, and gained early conducting experience with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (Russian music would feature prominently throughout his career). Shortly after the end of World War One, he founded the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, with whom he went on to form a long-standing partnership with Decca Records which gave rise to the first commercial stereo recordings made in Europe and the recorded premieres of much core repertoire.
Aside from Russian repertoire, Ansermet was a great champion of new music (though he disliked the Second Viennese School and indeed drew on his mathematical training to construct a book-length refutation of serialism, he was a particular champion of the French modernists and of Stravinsky, whom he met during the First World War), and during the late 1950s and 1960s developed a late-blooming enthusiasm for Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms.