FRANÇOIS-XAVIER ROTH, MASTER OF HIS ART


Even conductors need to break with routine

François-Xavier Roth loathes routine. When music falls into routine, it becomes stale. He builds his musical life around “projects” with a precise concept or objective. Thus, the underlying theme of the concert he conducts at the Maison symphonique next October 30 and 31, flanked by the French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, is that of the Ideal, either in the form of heroic grandeur or of the beloved. The three works on the programme, from Beethoven to Bartók through Richard Strauss, are impressively dense, enriched by musical references that open onto a broad spectrum of the classical tradition.

 

Music: an accessible art for everyone

Conductor François-Xavier Roth is a master of his art, in both the way he practices it and the ease with which he places it in context. He knows where he’s going, knows how to get there and eloquently communicates his passion along the way. He sees music as a social force whose accessibility has a great influence on social cohesion. Whether by incorporating amateur musicians into concerts or by directing children’s productions himself, Roth works to bring music within reach of as many people as possible and opposes the idea of creating barriers to participating in playing music.

From Lully to… Michael Jackson

François-Xavier Roth stands out notably for his wide-ranging repertoire that reflects his teenage musical tastes. In an interview, he notes that the first CDs he ever bought were by Berio, Michael Jackson, Tchaikovsky, Lully, Kool and the Gang, and Boulez. With his orchestra Les Siècles, he juxtaposes what, when he was younger, he would have liked to see programmed in the same concert: baroque, classical, romantic and modern music—frequently played on period instruments!

 

A unique introduction to music

For this great Maestro, General Music Director of the City of Cologne and Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, it all began when his father introduced him to music. Daniel Roth, Titular Organist of St-Sulpice Church in Paris, would ask the young François-Xavier to pull stops on the church’s grand Cavaillé-Coll organ during Sunday Mass. Upon discovering a flute in his grandfather’s house, he decided to take it up. Many years later, while studying at the Conservatoire national supérieur de Paris, the implacable certainty that he was to become a conductor began to dawn on him. While he himself is unsure of how or why this happened, his teachers encouraged him to follow that path. Hear François-Xavier Roth in the concert Richard Strauss’ A Hero’s Life, October 30 and 31 at the Maison symphonique.

“If he hasn’t already got the nickname Special FX, then Roth should adopt it … empathetic musicality and flair for colour, sometimes conjuring up such startling touches that the players look stunned.”

Neil Fisher, The Times