Maîtrise de Radio France

Maîtrise de Radio France (known as Maîtrise de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française prior to 1975) is the choir school of Radio France. The school and its choir were founded in 1946 by the composer Henry Barraud and the pedagogue Maurice David. Its first Director was Marcel Couraud. As a performing ensemble the Maîtrise choir has appeared on numerous recordings and in live concert performances, with a particular emphasis on choral works by French composers. It is one of the four permanent ensembles of Radio France along with the Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre national de France and Chœur de Radio France.[1][2][3]

Maîtrise de Radio France
  • Choir school
  • Children and youth choir
  • Paris, France
Sofi Jeannin
Parent organization
Radio France

The school's administration is based at the Maison de la Radio in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, while its academic base is the nearby Lycée La Fontaine. A second site was opened in Bondy in 2007 to serve children and young people resident in the north-eastern suburbs of Paris. Sofi Jeannin has served as the director of both the school and its choir since 2008.[1][4]

Education system

The Maîtrise has approximately 180 students ranging in age from 7 to 17 who are accepted by a national audition process. Once accepted their education is free. The mornings are devoted to academic studies, with the school providing education from école élémentaire through the baccalauréat. The afternoons are devoted to music studies with training in both solo and choral singing, piano, harmony, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, and Alexander Technique as well as rehearsals.[5][6]

The branch in Bondy, a designated sensitive urban zone of Paris with a large immigrant population, is based at the École Olympe-de-Gouges and runs a preparatory course for the main school in central Paris. The Bondy branch was established in 2007 and by 2011 had sixty students from nineteen different nationalities. The Auditorium Angèle et Roger Tribouilloy, purpose-built by the commune of Bondy in 2013, provides practice rooms and a 220-seat auditorium which the Maîtrise shares with the Commune of Bondy Conservatory and two other local collèges.[7][8]


In its early days, the Maîtrise was primarily a girls' choir. With the growth in the number of students over the years, and the increasing enrollment of boys who now make up a third of its students, the Maîtrise is now divided into several choral groups. These include two choirs for older girls and one for younger girls, a mixed chamber choir, and a choir for young boys whose voices have not yet changed.

The choir's first public concert took place on 6 June 1946 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées where they performed Michael Haydn's Missa Sancti Leopoldi, Janequin's Chant des oiseaux, and extracts from Pierné's Les Enfants à Bethléem.[9] The Maîtrise now gives approximately forty public performances each year, either a capella or with the Radio France orchestras. They have also performed with other orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Mahler's Symphony No. 3, 2016) and the London Symphony Orchestra (El Niño, 2016).[6][10][11]

Recordings and awards

The choir appears on several recordings of Olivier Messiaen's Trois petites liturgies de la présence divine, including the 1994 recording for Erato conducted by Kent Nagano with Yvonne Loriod as the pianist and Jeanne Loriod playing the ondes Martenot.[12] Messiaen had a special affection for the Maîtrise girls' choir:

I have a great admiration for the delightful voices of the Maîtrise de Radio France. These young girls have a pure sound and an absolutely unmatched musicality [...] Whenever my Trois petites liturgies de la présence divine are performed in Paris or the French provinces, I have appealed to the Maîtrise for the choral parts which this work entails. And every time, it was an enchantment of youth and joy.[13]

The Maîtrise choir has performed on numerous recordings of operas which call for a children's chorus such as Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher, L'Enfant et les sortilèges, La bohème, and Carmen. The soundtrack of the 1984 filmed version of Carmen with Julia Migenes-Johnson, Plácido Domingo, the Choeur de Radio France, Maîtrise de Radio France, and the Orchestre National de France conducted by Lorin Maazel won the 27th annual Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.[14]

In 1994 the Maîtrise de Radio France performed the world premiere of Nguyen-Thien Dao's opera-oratorio Les Enfants d'Izieu (The Children of Izieu) at the Festival d'Avignon. The subsequent recording received the 1995 Orphée d'or from the Académie du Disque Lyrique. It was the first time the award had been given to a children's choir.[15]

Past students

See also


  1. France Culture (30 April 2017). "Les succès de la Maîtrise de Radio France". Retrieved 14 October 2017 (in French).
  2. Tounsi, Samir (22 February 1996) "Musique". La Croix. Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).
  3. Hillériteau, Thierry (14 November 2014). "Les riches heures du classique à Radio France". Le Figaro. Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).
  4. Hanne, Isabelle (16 November 2014). "Sofi Jeannin. Dame de chœur". Libération. Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).
  5. Maison de la Radio France. "Maîtrise de Radio France". Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).
  6. Wasselin, Christian (21 September 2016). "Voix, mouvement, espace: la Maîtrise!". Radio France. Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).
  7. Roux, Marie-Aude (25 April 2011). "La double vie des enfants de la Maîtrise de Bondy". Le Monde. Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).
  8. Commune of Bondy (2013)."L'Auditorium Angèle et Roger Tribouilloy «Voix» en grand!". Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).
  9. Barraud, Henry (edited and annotated by Myriam Chimènes and Karine Le Bail) (2010). Un compositeur aux commandes de la radio. p. 286. Fayard. ISBN 2213663564 (in French)
  10. Philharmonie de Paris (2016). El Niño.
  11. Philharmonie de Paris (2016)."Concert symphonique: Los Angeles Philharmonic".
  12. Fallon, Robert (2016). Messiaen Perspectives 1: Sources and Influences, p. 332. Routledge. ISBN 1317097181
  13. Héro, Florian (11 February 2015). "Les petites liturgies de Messiaen". Radio France. Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).
  14. Franks, Don (2004). Entertainment Awards: A Music, Cinema, Theatre and Broadcasting Guide, 1928 through 2003 (3rd Edition), p. 36. McFarland. ISBN 0786417986
  15. Abramowitz, Christophe (2004). Appassionato: La passion de la musique à Radio France, p. 40. Éditions Jacob-Duvernet. ISBN 2847240810
  16. Télé Satellite et Numérique (20 June 2006). "La maîtrise de Radio France". Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).
  17. France Musique. "Nora Gubisch". Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).
  18. AFP (4 December 2015). "Le conte de fées musical de Lucie, Elisa et Juliette, alias les LEJ". La Croix. Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).
  19. Beauvert, Thierry (30 March 2014). "Diable Beauvert: Isabelle Poulenard". France Musique. Retrieved 15 October 2017 (in French).

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