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Pierre Fournier (1906-1986)

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Pierre Fournier was born in Paris about a hundred years ago. He was taught to play the piano by his mother but when he was nine years old he caught a disease called polio. Today children are vaccinated against polio but it used to be a very serious childhood illness which left many children paralyzed so that they couldn't use their legs. Pierre Fournier wasn't paralyzed but he couldn't use his legs and feet very well and he found it difficult to use the piano pedals. So he stopped learning the piano and began to learn the cello instead. (That's good!) The cello suited him very well and he won a place at the Paris Conservatoire.

Fournier was famous for his bowing technique. He thought one's right elbow should be high when playing the cello. Once he met Paul Tortelier after a concert (Tortelier was another great French cellist) and said to him, "Paul, I wish I had your left hand." Tortelier replied, "Pierre, I wish I had your right arm!" That would be a very strange conversation to overhear, wouldn't it, if you didn't know they were cellists?

If you look at this photograph of Pierre Fournier, you can see that the elbow of his bowing arm is quite high.