Langue disponible : anglaisConductor Mark Fitz-Gerald is recognized for dual specialties: he is a noted interpreter of the music of Shostakovich, and he is an expert in the restoration and performance of scores for silent films. Those specialties have overlapped at times, as he has prepared and performed two major Shostakovich film scores of the 1920s. Fitz-Gerald was born in Bromley, in south-east England's Kent County, on September 5, 1954. Among his ancestors were an Irish nobleman and a famed music hall banjo player. His early musical experiences were quite varied, including studies of the bass drum, piano, and bassoon, as well as extensive international travels with his family. He became an expert sight-reader at the secondary school Dulwich College and settled on a conducting career, although he continued to play the bassoon. Fitz-Gerald attended the Royal College of Music in London from 1973 to 1977, studying with Norman Del Mar and winning all the school's major conducting prizes. His strong record attracted a 1976 invitation from composer Hans Werner Henze to participate, as a bassoonist, at the inaugural Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte in Montepulciano, Italy. That spread Fitz-Gerald's reputation on the European continent, and he landed a post as a guest conductor of the Basel Sinfonietta in Switzerland, and then, in 1983, as the artistic director of the RIAS Kammerorchester in what was then West Berlin. There, he first began to explore his interest in film music, conducting a series called "Filmharmonic" that he continued in the 1990s with the Berlin Rundfunkorchester. Fitz-Gerald also held major conducting posts with the Kentish Opera (beginning in 1986), the Orquestra do Porto in Portugal (1989-1993), and Het Brabants Orkest in the Netherlands. He has also made guest conducting appearances around Europe and as far away as Malaysia, where he made his debut in 2012 with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. With all of these groups, he often conducted the music of Shostakovich, and his interests in that composer and in film music came together when he conducted major premieres of the Shostakovich score to Leonid Trauberg's film New Babylon (1929), including at the Tokyo Summer Festival in 2000. He recorded the score in 2011 with the Basel Sinfonietta. He followed that up by restoring the Shostakovich score to another Trauberg film, Odna, with the help of the composer's widow, Irina. He conducted the world premiere of that score in the Netherlands. More recently, Fitz-Gerald has reconstructed and conducted other film scores, including that for the Douglas Fairbanks vehicle The Thief of Bagdad (1924); he recorded that score in 2019 with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Fitz-Gerald has made several other recordings for the Naxos label, one such, offered the world premieres of the incidental music to the play The Bedbug, Op. 19 (1929), and the film score Love and Hate (1935), with the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz.
© James Manheim /TiVo
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