Henri Constant Gabriel Pierné was born in Metz in Lorraine in 1863. His father was a professor at the Metz Conservatoire and his mother came from the other end of France, in Montpellier (from her, one biographer has opined, Gabriel inherited ‘a certain vivacity’). Wisely, as it turned out, his parents moved from Metz to Paris to escape the Franco-Prussian War, and the eight-year-old Gabriel entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1871, where he was taught by Massenet and César Franck. A grand haul of first prizes duly followed, in piano, counterpoint and organ, culminating in the Prix de Rome in 1882. On Franck’s death in 1890, Pierné took his place as organist at Sainte-Clotilde until 1898. But the decisive post was that of assistant conductor of the Colonne Orchestra which he assumed in 1903, from which he graduated to chief conductor on the death of Édouard Colonne in 1910. He remained in the post until 1934.
from notes by Roger Nichols © 2014