Paul Bazelaire was born on March 4, 1886. His
father was a distinguished writer, who won many prizes
for literature and poetry in France and Belgium.
His mother and grandmother were both good musicians, and taught him his first lessons in theory and piano.
He began studying the cello at the age of seven thanks to H. Clarival, the excellent Director of the Philharmonic Company of Sedan, his city of birth. When he was ten years old Bazelaire began his studies at the Paris Academy. He was an accomplished pianist, as well as a cello prodigy, and at first could not make up his mind which on which instrument to concentrate. Finally he decided to enter the the class of the cello professor, Delsart.
He made his debut at the age of eleven in his hometown, Sedan, on December 18, 1897. That same year he took first prize in cello at the Academy. Conductor Sir Henry Wood remembered him from 1899: "He had come to us from a tour in France and Germany and had twice played in Berlin at the command of the emperor. He must have created an impression because the court sculptor Degas executed a bust of him, which still adorns the Tiergarten. He was only 12 and had already composed some 50 pieces." At the age of 17 (as a student of Xavier Leroux) he won first prize in harmony, and two years later, when he was 19, he won first prize in composition and counterpoint.
In the meantime he had become a seasoned master of the cello. One critic wrote: "Bazalaire plays with both flexibility and brilliance. He is a master of the bow, performing with intelligence, always giving a fine interpretation. He will have bright success!"
He immediately began a concert soloist career, and traveled extensively in Poland, Russia, Germany, Austria, Italy, Tunisia, England, and Belgium. He had great success at the Academies of Pétrograd and Moscow, and with the Philharmonic societies of WARSAW, LODZ, CRACOW, PRSEMYSIL, VIENNA, BERLIN, HAMBURG. He also performed with the orchestras of COVENT GARDEN, in LONDON,MANCHESTER, ROME, and Pisa, Italy.
Continuing his concert career, he also became
a well-known teacher. He was appointed professor with
the National Academy of Paris in 1918 at the age of
32 years, where he attracted and trained many student
cellists. He authored several significant works on
the relationship between technique and interpretation,
and gave new life to the modern French school of the
violoncello. Included among his disciples are
Pierre BAKER, Bernard MICHELIN, Reine FLACHOT, Guy FALLOT, Roger ALBIN, Genevieve TRIP HAMMER and many others, all eminent virtuosos whose glory flashes back on their spiritual father.
He created a unique ensemble of fifty cellists, which became famous all over France, and even around the world. This group participated in the "Farewell Concert" for Pablo Casals on October 1, 1956 at the Sorbonne. Casals directed an orchestra of 100 cellists, and Bazelaire and his students contributed much to this wonderful event.
Bazelaire was a good friend of Pablo Casals, who entrusted to him the presidency of the international Pablo Casals contest. Other judges included A. Fritz, Gaspar Cassado, Pierre Baker, Sadlo and other great cellists. One of the entrants was a young Mstislav Rostropovich.
Paul Bazelaire was given many Awards, including:
-- Officer of the Legion of Honour,
-- Officer of the cultural merit Monegasque by prince Rainier III of Monaco,
-- Member of the Company of the Authors and Type-setters,
-- President of the Union of the Violoncellists of France,
-- Professor with the American Academy of Fountainebleau, and
-- He was a co-author of the Larousse Dictionary of Music.
Paul Bazelaire died in PARIS on December 11, 1958.
Roger Thirault, one of his students, and now
a professor of violoncello himself, said of Bazelaire:
" Témoignage d'un ancien"
Il nous plaît à nous, ses anciens élèves, de nous rappeler le fluide magnétique qu'il nous transmettait quand, nous accompagnant au piano, il nous chargeait, si l'on peut dire, d'un potentiel dynamique, d'un genre d'envoûtement, une domination à laquelle nous nous abandonnions complètement.
Pour l'élève, toute uvre à travailler était une source de véritable bonheur sonore qui était accueilli, avec allégresse et transmis avec amour.
Pour ceux qui croient " vraiment" avoir connu Paul Bazelaire, plus encore que sa qualité de pédagogue et d'artiste, plus encore que le caractère et l'élégance innée de sa personnalité, c'est sa sensibilité profonde ainsi que l'amour qu'il portait à tous ses élèves qui nous paraîtrons pour toujours, comme le souvenir le plus attachant et qui fera que nous ne nous souviendrons jamais de lui, sans une indicible émotion.