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The great Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit is currently the Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Find out more about his illustrious career.
Born in Lausanne, Switzerland on 7 October 1936, Charles Dutoit graduated from the Geneva Conservatory, where he won first prize in conducting. His extensive musical training also included history of music, composition, violin, viola, piano and percussion at the conservatoires of Geneva, Siena, Venice and Boston.
As a young man, Dutoit frequently attended rehearsals by the legendary conductor Ernest Ansermet and got to know him personally.
Dutoit began his music career in 1957 as a viola player with various orchestras across Europe and South America. As a member of the Lucerne Festival youth orchestra, he played under Herbert von Karajan. When still in his early 20s, Dutoit was invited by Von Karajan to lead the Vienna State Opera.
In January 1959, Dutoit made his debut as a professional conductor with an orchestra of Radio Lausanne and Martha Argerich to whom he was married from 1969 to 1973. He became a guest conductor of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra.
For 25 years - from 1977 to 2002 - Charles Dutoit was Artistic Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, a dynamic musical partnership recognized the world over. During his tenure, the recording profile and reputation of the orchestra increased as he managed to make it one of the leading orchestras in the French-speaking world.
In 1989, Dutoit appeared at the United Nations in New York. He is pictured here with U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Dutoit first conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1980. From 1990 to 1999, he was music director of their summer concerts and, until 2010, he was the artistic director and principal conductor of their summer festival. Photo: Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Orchestra Association
"I think it's the most wonderful thing to be a musician," says Dutoit. "What would society be without music? It's unthinkable in the civilized world. When the world wants to stay civilized and develop and find higher values, music is wonderful." In October 2011, pianist Lang Lang joined Dutoit and the Philadelphia Orchestra for three performances of Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1.
A globetrotter motivated by his passion for history and archaeology, political science, art and architecture, Charles Dutoit has traveled in all 195 nations of the world. He maintains residences in Switzerland, Paris, Montreal, Buenos Aires and Tokyo.
"I think a conductor is also a trainer," says Dutoit. "An orchestra is an instrument and you need somebody to play this instrument." His more than 170 recordings, half of them with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, have garnered over 40 awards and distinctions around the world.