Sony Classical presents a new reissue of all the recordings that Charles Munch, one of the most dynamic and charismatic conductors of the 20th century, made for RCA Victor while in Boston conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Munch turned the BSO into arguably the greatest French orchestra in the world while preserving its sovereignty in the American, Austro-German, central European and Russian repertoires. An 86-CD box set, The Complete Album Collection marks the first time that this cornerstone of the classical catalogue has been available in a single box with 16 works new to CD and 29 works newly remastered from the original analogue tapes. The new set also contain Munch s 1963 French-music compilation with the Philadelphia Orchestra for American Columbia.
Charles Munch was born in Strasbourg in 1891, during the brief period when Alsace-Lorraine was part of the German Empire. He himself straddled the two cultures: trained as a violinist at the conservatories of Strasbourg and Paris, he was conscripted into the German army in World War I. After the war he taught at the conservatory and played in the orchestra of Strasbourg (by then French again) from 1920 until he was appointed concertmaster of the illustrious Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1926 under Wilhelm Furtwängler and Bruno Walter. After making his own podium début in Paris in 1932, Munch settled there and established his reputation as one of the leading French conductors of the day, championing the music of Berlioz as well as of such contemporaries as Honegger, Roussel and Poulenc. Following World War II during which he strongly supported the French resistance (he was awarded the Légion d Honneur in 1945) his international career took off. In 1946 he made his début with several US orchestras, including the Boston Symphony. Three years later, aged 58, he was appointed by that patrician ensemble to succeed Serge Koussevitzky as music director.