Desire-Emile Inghelbrecht

1880 - 1965



Born on September 17th 1880 in Paris, Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht was a French conductor and composer and the son of a viola player at the Opéra. As such, he played the violin from an early age before enrolling at the Paris Conservatory and studying solfège with Ambroise Thomas and harmony with Taudou. Unfortunately, he was expelled and as a result, began playing in an orchestra. In 1908 he gave his conducting debut at the Théâtre des Arts, where he directed 50 performances of Schmitt’s La Tragédie de Salomé. In this time, Inghelbrecht came in to contact with many artists of this period in Paris, but the most important of these was Claude Debussy. He championed Debussy’s music throughout much of his life, conducting the premiere of Le martyre de St Sébastien in 1911. 

Inghelbrecht held a number of positions over the next forty years, including conductor of the orchestra he worked to form – the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française – an ensemble inspired by the success of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. During the war, he was suspended from this particular post, after he refused to conduct La marseillaise whilst France was under occupation. This suspension lasted until the end of the war. His compositions were renowned for their polished and masterful orchestrations and richly eclectic style. As a conductor, he had a reputation for his excellent performances of Debussy, Ravel, Roussel and Schmidt.