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CRÉMONT, Pierre (1784-1846)

The composer and conductor, Pierre Crémont, was born into a family of musicians in Aurillac. His father was a serpent player attached to the bas-chœur of the chapterhouse of Saint-Géraud. His uncle, Jean Crémont, was a renowned violinist and Pierre continued his studies under him, in Limoges, before travelling to Paris where he appears to have entered the Paris Conservatoire in Year VIII, according to the account given by musicographer, François-Joseph Fétis (although he does not appear in the conservatory archives). Probably after touring in Eastern Europe, Crémont was appointed concertmaster at the Court of Tsar Alexander I of Russia, in St. Petersburg. In 1803, he became first violin at the French Theatre in Moscow, where he stayed for ten years and for which he composed several opéras comiques. The Great Fire of Moscow forced him to leave Russia in 1812. On his return to France, he took part in a highly successful tour of Scandinavia with members of the Moscow Theatre company: the musicians mainly performed in Stockholm, Turku and Copenhagen. Crémont’s French career began in 1815, with the performance of his violin concerto at the Théâtre de l’Odéon, where he became second conductor before joining the Opéra-Comique as principal conductor. He collaborated with the leading opera composers of the time—Rossini, Meyerbeer, Weber and even Bellini—whose works he conducted and for whom he sometimes had to undertake arrangements. In 1830, Crémont left Paris for the Bourbonnais region. Principal conductor of the Théâtre de Lyon in 1833, he became director of the Société Philharmonique de Tours, the town where he was to end his days. Long forgotten outside the borders of his native Auvergne, the figure of Crémont has now been rediscovered owing to recordings made by the Trio Concordia in 2013.