The conductor in a camper van

The conductor in a camper van


norman lebrecht

June 11, 2017

The Rev. Peter Philips has been sharing fond memories of the late French conductor Louis Frémaux on the Guardian’s obits page:

After he had supper with my wife, Judith, and me, following a concert with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in Swansea, we invited Frémaux to stay the night. He preferred, however, to drive up on to the Gower peninsula and spend the night in his camper van.

On another occasion, the then head of music for BBC Wales emerged from the Llandaff studios following a concert to be met by the smell of chips being cooked. It turned out to be Frémaux in his camper van.

Read on here.

photo (c) Lebrecht


  • Roz says:

    Speaking as a musician who also chooses to live in a motorhome, I can assure you that I entirely understand his motivations

    • Peter Phillips says:

      LF didn’t actually live in it, only when he was away from home; he had a flat in Edgbaston and continued to live there after he and the CBSO parted company.

  • John says:

    He didn’t always choose picturesque locations. I can remember seeing his camper van parked on what was then a bit of wasteland behind the Grand Theatre Leeds where he was conducting Pearl Fishers for Welsh National Opera on tour!

  • Peter Phillips says:

    Can I add to my original comments by saying that Simon Rattle fairly recently conducted a concert of French music in Berlin. Maybe he could do the same in Birmingham to bring the whole affair to some sort of closure – symbolic perhaps, but better than nothing.

    • Halldor says:

      Rattle, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons all conducted plenty of French music in Birmingham, and the current music director has an entire Debussy festival planned for 2018.

      I didn’t have the sense that either party sought ‘closure’, particularly – the rift was irreparable and deeply personal – though it has now been achieved in the saddest and most final way.