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 foremost conductors of early twentieth-century Paris. During his long-term direction of the Colonne Orchestra (1910–32), he premièred works by such composers as Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky, and his series of weekend concerts was one of the most well-attended in Paris. In view of his long and prestigious conducting tenure, he has been deemed ‘one of the most powerful men on the postwar Paris [music] scene’ (Nichols 2002: 42). However, Pierné was also very active as a composer – more so than most of his fellow Parisian orchestral conductors – and primary sources show a strong awareness of his creative side. Faith’s research seeks to understand Pierné’s significant contribution as a conductor, as well as the reception of his composer-conductor identity, and the impact this dual role had on the propagation of his own music. By extension, Faith aims to shed new light on composer and conductor roles in early twentieth-century France, including the values which critics attached to them, and the 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.


‘Framing Gabriel Pierné’s Career, or Assumptions About the Composer-Conductor Identity’, paper given at the BFE/RMA Research Students’ Conference, Cardiff University, 10–12 January 2024.

‘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.

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

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