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Michèle Auclair (1924-2005)






Charles Munch around 1950.














The early release - ED1 - of the Violin Concerto in D by Tchaikovsky played by Michèle Auclair and Kurt Wöss. Remington RLP-199-20. Cover by Sherman Alpert..


The later issue of the Tschaikovsky Concerto (here too the composer's name spelled the German way: Tschaikovsky!) but now on R-199-20. Later pressings with the MUSIRAMA label were sold in the same cover. But these were of course not MUSIRAMA recordings.


As of 1958 the Remington label ceased to exist. Already in 1957 the Tchaikovsky Concerto with Michèle Auclair and Kurt Wöss was reissued on Masterseal MSLP 5004, processed with different electronics, new plates and pressed on better vinyl. See Record Corporation of New England.












  Search The Remington Site













The Tchaikovsky released on another of Don Gabor's labels: Masque M.10.011


















The cover of the Bruch recording.



















A picture of young Michèle Auclair at the beginning of her career (picture edited by R.A.B., taken from the back of the cover of the Bruch recording).














Philips Hi-Fi Stereo 838 607 VY with Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn-Bartholdy conducted by Robert Wagner.







Schubert performed by Michèle Auclair on Musical Heritage Society 606/7.








Michèle Auclair, Bach Sonatas for Clavier and Violin - DF 209-210














It was in 1950 that she made her first recording of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 35. It was for the Remington label and the recording was made in Vienna with conductor Kurt Wöss . Later recordings of Kreisler pieces, of Bruch's Violin Concerto, and Kol Nidrei (originally written for cello and orchestra) both with conductor Wilhelm Loibner (1909-1971) were added to the Remington catalog. That is the beginning of her discography.


French violinist Michèle Auclair (born on November 16, 1924) studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Jules Boucherit and Jacques Thibaud from France, and with Russian Boris Kamensky. They all influenced the development of her talent and explains her style of playing with a beautiful technique and above all with a natural passion. In 1943 she won the "Prix Jacques Thibaud Marguerite Long" and in 1945 she was a laureate of the "Concours International de Genève", the Geneva International Competition.

There is mention of a performance by twenty year old Michèle Auclair on Sunday, February 4, 1945, in liberated Paris. She played Mozart's Concerto in G Major K216 with l'Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire and conductor Charles Münch. This was her first major appearance in public in a concert hall. See Wayback Machine The Listings by D. Kern Holoman.

Dimanche 4 Février 1945
Michèle AUCLAIR, violin
Symphonie 88 Haydn
Concerto en sol Mozart
L’Ascension Messiaen
Léonore no 3 Beethoven
Direction: Charles MÜNCH

Webpage retreived on March 29, 2005. Before that Kern Holoman abusively mentioned that her instrument was piano.

In 1948 she performed the Brahms Concerto with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, again conducted by Charles Münch.

Portrait of young Michèle Auclair.
Picture edited by R.A.B., taken from the back of an early REMINGTON cover.


Michèle Auclair came to the USA in 1949 to study with Theodore and Alice Pashkus in New York (See also Young Violinist's Edition).
In January 1951 she made her debut for the American audience with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She played the Tchaikovsky Concerto Op. 35 and this performance was again conducted by Charles Munch. There exists a recording of the rehearsal which took place on January 27, played without interruption, of course in a more or less loose style, saving the energy for the actual concert performance.

She made recordings which were released on Don Gabor's labels, Remington, Masterseal, Masque and in France on the Concerteum label. She also recorded for Philips. Some of these recordings were re-released by Philips on the Fontana and Classette labels. Later she recorded in France for Discophiles Français and Erato.

Miss Auclair was a honorary professor of the Paris Conservatoire, a frequent guest at the faculty of the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, and often a jury member at mayor competitions. She also taught at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts, from 1989 until 2004.

The back of the first edition (Remington RLP-199-20) of Tchaikovsky's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D, gives a concise biography:

Michèle Auclair, at twenty one, has already achieved world recognition as a violin virtuoso. Born in Paris, the daughter of a noted painter, she started study of the violin at the age of six. She was enrolled in the National Conservatoire of Paris and won first prize upon graduation as well as first prize at the International Music Festival in Geneva.
She made her debut in Paris appearing as soloist with the Orchestra de la Société des Concerts. Since then she appeared with all the French orchestras of national importance and played with ever increasing acclaim in Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Greece and throughout South America. This season her American debut is being effected with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Charles Munch at which time she will play the Tchaikovsky Concerto.
A pupil of Theodore Pashkus, the noted violin pedagogue of New York City, Michèle Auclair is considered today to be most likely to succeed Erica Morini as the foremost feminine violinist of the world.
Her repertory embraces virtually all the known works of forgotten masters, whose glory she is continuously reviving.
An interesting sidelight on the Tchaikovsky work presented here is that Miss Auclair recorded the work with a Guarnerius violin, which had been the property of Adolf Brodzky, violin virtuoso of the last century. It was Brodzky who gave the first performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto when the work received its world première in Vienna in 1881 and also the initial American presentation more than a decade later at Carnegie Hall. Both the deceased virtuoso and Miss Auclair used the same Guarnerius which was much admired for its pure singing tone by Tchaikovsky himself.

The recorded performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto shows passion and a strong and beautiful tone, not only witnessing Miss Auclair's virtuosity and sensitivity, but also letting the importance of the cooperation between conductor, soloist and orchestra. Although the technical quality of the recording on RLP-199-20/R-199-20 (also released on Plymouth P-12-121) does not rise above the level of the average Remington (it all depends on the quality of the pressing you obtain), this performance is of a very high standard.

In his discography of 'Tchaikovsky Recordings on Microgroove' (High Fidelity, August 1954) reviewer J.F. Indcox said about R-199-20: "

"Auclair gives a most striking performance, brimful of fire, if a trifle impetuous, which exposes a very solid and sure technique."
Click here for the First Movement of the Tchaikovsky Concerto taken from a reasonable red label R-199-20.

The performance of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto by Michèle Auclair and Kurt Wöss was issued on Plymouth P-12-121. But then the violinist is named Renée Marcel and the orchestra the Europe Symphony Orchestra. It was released in another flamboyant design by Rado.


The technical quality of the re-release on the Masterseal label from around 1957 has a less chiseled sound and is not as clear, which makes Masterseal MSLP 5004 somewhat less authentic if compared to the 'rough' Remington.

The same performance also appeared on Masque 10.011, another of Don Gabor's labels.
On a later release the Tchaikovsky Concerto is in real STEREO and although the cover mentions Michèle Auclair, she is not the soloist.
The Palace release in phony stereo (Palace PST624[s]) is not the Auclair performance either.

Steve Slezak wrote to me: "From performance listings, it seems that the Palace recording, attributed to Michele Auclair, is actually one of the Paul Lazare-produced recordings, listed with Janine Andrade (b. Nov. 13, 1918) and the Hamburg Radio Symphony, Hans Jürgen Walther conducting. Walther was the superb conductor on many of the hokey-named small label issues in the early days of stereo. So the early Remington is preferred."

Michèle Auclair attained more or less the same level of intensity in a later performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto recorded for Philips. She plays with the Symphony Orchestra of the City of Innsbruck conducted by Robert Wagner. If this excellent sound recording was released in the Philips 835-series, it probably was only available in France as Philips had other violinists on their rostrum like Isaac Stern and Zino Francescati, and of course Arthur Grumiaux.

The re-release on Philips 838 608 VY HI-FI STEREO the concerto performed with Robert Wagner conducting was coupled with her performance of the Mendelssohn Concerto. These recordings were later issued on Fontana 700 155 WGY and on another Fontana coupled with Tchaikovsky's Piano Concert No. 1, played by Jacques Klein and the Brabant Orchestra conducted by Hein Jordans. The Tchaikovsky recording was also released in a very good mono edition coupled with the rendition of the Bruch Concerto by Herman Krebbers.

Photograph of young Michèle Auclair
Picture taken from the back of an early release of the Tchaikovsky Concerto.

Picture edited by R.A.B..

The same Mendelssohn performance can be found on a later, yet very good sounding Fontana pressing from France (6554.032), coupled with 2 excerpts of Schubert's Rosamunde played by The Hague Residency Orchestra conducted by Willem van Otterloo. On Dutch Fontana with reference number 6530 006 it was coupled with Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting Mendelssohn's 4th Symphony.
Another Fontana recording of Michèle Auclair is 700 161 WGY (=894 039 ZKY) with the performances of Mozart's Violin concertos K218 and K219 with the Stuttgart Philharmonic and Marcel Couraud conducting.
Fontana 200.063 WGL was the mono issue. Her Mozart is vivid and beatifully strong.

A few recordings of Michele Auclair are rare.
On Fontana 6554 031 she plays Brahms' Concerto with Willem van Otterloo conducting the 'Wiener Symphoniker' (Vienna Symphony Orchestra). It really is strange that so few recordings were made with Mme. Auclair. Even the Brahms Concerto recorded with Willem van Otterloo was not available in many countries and only could be ordered and if it was available it was only for a short period of time. In France it appeared in the Philips 836 series. The policy seemed to be not to release that recording but in France, because Michèle Auclair was considered more or less a local/regional artist and not of world stature! More so Philips gave priority to the other violinists in their catalogue: Zino Francescati, and later Henryk Szeryng. A mistake of judgment by the A&R Department. But then we have to remember that in the 1960s Michèle was in a car accident and that certainly did change her solo carreer.

She also recorded Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 of Béla Bartók and Prokofiev's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in D, Op. 94a, in which she is accompanied by Jacqueline Robin, piano. The recording was issued on the Coup d'archet label.
On Musical Heritage Society 606/7 were released 'The Complete Works for Violin and Piano' of Franz Schubert with pianist Geneviève Joy, a 2 LP set.

On Discophiles Français DF-209-210 she plays Sonatas for Keyboard and Violin (Sonates pour clavier et violon) of Johann Sebastian Bach, Marie-Claire Alain playing the organ. On the same label, Reference No. 525-122, she plays the Violin Sonatas by Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, with Jacqueline Bonneau at the piano.

NOTE Michèle Auclair is not the violinist in the recording of "L'histoire du soldat" (Stravinsky) on Vox PL 7960 with the Oubradous Chamber Orchestra conducted by Fernand Oubradous as some sellers of vintage vinyl may want us to believe. The name listed for the recording is that of actor Michel Auclair who is the narrator of the story, and not violinist Michèle Auclair.

Michèle Auclair also recorded pieces by Fritz Kreisler which she performs with pianist Otto Schulhof and can be found on Remington R-199-126.
The program:
* Liebesfreud,,
* Liebesleid,
* Schön Rosmarin,
* Caprice viennois,
* Old Refrain, and
* Tambourin chinois.

Side B features the Austrian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Max Schönherr, playing ballet music by Delibes (Coppélia, Sylvia). The record was released in July 1953. On the back of R-199-126 a short biographical note was printed about concert and recital pianist Otto Schulhof (March 3rd 1889 - April 16th, 1958), an extremely fine accompanist. The name Kubelik is of course that of violinist Jan Kubelik.

OTTO SCHULHOF is a native of that city of musical history, Vienna. He has toured Europe with Kreisler, Huberman and Kubelik and for many years played with the great master of the cello, Pablo Casals. (...)

Another selection of spirited performances of Kreisler Favorites, also played with veteran Otto Schulhof, and resulted in spirited performances, was released on Remington R-199-128:
* Praeludium & Allegro (Pugnani-Kreisler)
* Melodie (Gluck-Kreisler)
* Rondino On A Theme Of Beethoven (Kreisler)
* Songs My Mother Taught Me (Dvorak-Kreisler)
* Serenade Espagnola (Chaminade-Kreisler)
* Danse Espagnole (de Falla-Kreisler).

On the B-Side cellist Gaspar Cassado plays his favourites (with Schulhof):
* Spinning Wheel (Mendelssohn)
* Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2 (Chopin)
* Gavotte, Op.23 (Popper)
* Melody (Rubinstein)
* Valse sentimental (Tchaikovsky)
* Improvisations on "The Blue Danube" (Strauss-Cassado).

How much "composing" and how much "arranging" Kreisler actually did was not learned until 1935, when Olin Downes of the N.Y. Times wanted to compare the original score for the Pugnani Praeludium & Allegro with the Kreisler transcription of the work. A very thorough search in this country unearthed no original and a cable to Kreisler in Europe produced the startling truth - this composition and eighteen other "transcriptions" of Couperin, Vivaldi, etc. were in fact original Kreisler compositions! - From the Liner Notes on the back of Remington R-199-128


The cooperation with Wilhelm Loibner in the Violin Concerto No. 1 Op. 26 and Kol Nidrei of Max Bruch on Remington R-199-127 - released in the spring of 1953 - misses some of the fire, intensity and nervousness of the Tchaikovsky performance. Both soloist and conductor remain in somewhat calm waters. The Concerto suffers from a few unlucky intonations, a less conscious playing by both soloist and orchestra. One never knows under what circumstances the recordings were made.
Music critic Warren De Motte said rightfully about these performances that "Michèle Auclair plays with tempered feeling." 

Listening to the same recording 50 years later, one can not help adhering a somewhat deeper intensity to the Bruch performances.

Rudolf .A. Bruil. Page first published in October, 2000


French daily 'Le monde' reported that it was on Wednesday June 8th, 2005, that Michèle Auclair passed away at the age of 80 in Paris. She had been married to composer Antoine Duhamel and later to critic Armand Panigel. After a severe car accident she was forced to end a relatively short career as a soloist. In 1969 she became a violin teacher at the 'Conservatoire national supérieur de musique' (CNSM) - National Conservatory of Music - in Paris, a post which she held until 1990, the year of her retirement. The Boston Globe published an obituary stating the importance of Michèle Auclair when she was teaching at the New England Conservatory and remembering the performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto she gave with the Boston Symphony under the direction of Charles Munch in 1951.

French minister of culture and communications, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, remembered the great violinist "whose renown of international soloist was only equaled by her talent and her immense passion as a pedagogue, a mission which was brought by Michèle Auclair to the highest level for more than twenty years."

Click here for a Sound Clip of the Preludium (of Preludium & Allegro - Pugnani-Kreisler) played by Michèle Auclair accompanied by Otto Schulhof.

Listening again to her playing, it is Kreisler's Praeludium & Allegro that she performs so extremely well and seems to sum up her strong personality and artistic life. It is a firm statement, it shows authority and beauty, but it is also a prayer when leaving this earth with grace, and reminiscing the vivacity of a life, full of occurrences, praise and dedication, which finally ends in an affirmative manner.
Her recording of the Kreisler favorites and her other relatively rare recordings will always remind us of her passionate style and superb mastering of the art of violin playing. - R.A.B. 18 June, 2005



Copyright 1995-2009 by Rudolf A. Bruil