Faith Thompson

Faith Thompson


Thesis Title

Gabriel Pierné (1863–1937) and the Composer-Conductor Identity


Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM)


Professor Barbara Kelly (University of Leeds)
Professor Denis Herlin (IReMUS – CNRS)
Dr David Jones (RNCM)

Research Summary

Though little-known today, Gabriel Pierné (1863–1937) was one of the most popular French conductors of the early twentieth century. He steered the famous Colonne Orchestra from 1910 to 1933, and has consequently been deemed ‘one of the most powerful men on the postwar Paris [music] scene’ (Nichols 2002: 42). Pierné’s public identity was divided, however: he was also a prolific composer. My research asks what impact Pierné’s conducting had upon his composing, both on a practical and a reputational level. On the one hand, I am investigating the impact of Pierné’s conducting experiences and responsibilities upon the act of composing music; on the other hand, I am asking how Pierné’s conducting position and status impacted the propagation and reception of his completed works. By extension, my project seeks to shed new light on the roles of composers and conductors (combined and separately) within Third Republic France. I am reflecting, via Pierné, on the public functions of these roles, the values which critics attached to them, and the reputational effects of combining them.

Research Interests

Music in late 19th/early 20th-century France,
music analysis,
music criticism and reception history,
music and literature,
music and national identity,
concert culture,
and Basque music.


‘Gabriel Pierné, _franckiste_?’, paper given at the César Franck and His Legacy symposium, Royal College of Music, London, 9–10 December 2022.

‘Untangling the Reception of Gabriel Pierné’s Music: Clues from _La Revue musicale_ (1920–40)’, paper given at the PGR Conference, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 22–23 May 2023.


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