He was born in Lausanne, Switzerland and studied at the conservatory there under Charles Munch. Dutoit began his professional music career in 1957 as a viola player with various orchestras across Europe and South America. After two years, he returned to Switzerland to concentrate on conducting. From 1959 he was a guest conductor of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, following which he was the conductor for Radio Zurich until 1967 when he took over the Bern Symphony Orchestra from Paul Kletzki where he stayed for eleven years. While head of the Bern Symphony, he also conducted the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico from 1973 to 1975, and Sweden’s Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra from 1975 to 1978.
Following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Otto Klemperer and Zubin Mehta, in 1977 Charles Dutoit became the Artistic Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. During his 25 years with the Montreal Symphony, he turned it into the finest orchestra in Canada and one of the best in the world. He has earned more than 40 prestigious international awards and distinctions, including two Grammy Awards (USA), several Juno Awards (Canada), the Grand Prix du Président de la République (France), the Prix mondial du disque de Montreux (Switzerland), the Amsterdam Edison Award, the Japan Record Academy Award, and the German Music Critics’ Award.
Since 1990, he has been the artistic director and principal conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s summer festival in Saratoga Springs, New York, and of the Pacific Music Festival in Japan. In 1991, he was made an Honorary Citizen of the city of Philadelphia.
From 1991 to 2001, Charles Dutoit was Music Director of the Orchestre National de France with whom he made a number of critically lauded recordings and toured extensively on the five continents. In 1996 he was appointed principal conductor of Tokyo’s NHK Symphony Orchestra. In 1997 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada; he is also the only non-Canadian citizen to be a Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec.
Although Charles Dutoit shunned publicity and protects his private life from the media, he has been married and divorced three times, notably to concert pianist, Martha Argerich, and prominent economist Marie-Josée Drouin.
Dutoit is particularly noted for his interpretations of French and Russian 20th century works, especially those of Igor Stravinsky.
Edited by zerrath on 31 May 2006, 20:31
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