Charles Munch (born 26 September 1891 – 6 November 1968) was an Alsacian symphonic conductor and violinist. Noted for his mastery of the French orchestral repertoire, he was best known as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Munch was born in Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine (at that period annexed by the German Empire). The son of organist and choir director Ernst Münch, he was the fifth in a family of six children. He was the brother of conductor Fritz Münch and the cousin of conductor and composer Hans Münch. Although his first ambition was to be a locomotive engineer, he studied violin at the Strasbourg Conservatoire. His father Ernst was a professor of organ at the Conservatoire and performed at the cathedral; he also directed an orchestra with his son Charles in the second violins.
After receiving his diploma in 1912, Charles studied with Carl Flesch in Berlin and Lucien Capet at the Conservatoire de Paris. He was conscripted into the German army in World War I, serving as a sergeant gunner. He was gassed at Péronne and wounded at Verdun.
In 1920, he became professor of violin at the Strasbourg Conservatoire and assistant concertmaster of the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra under Joseph Guy Ropartz, who directed the conservatory. In the early 1920s he was concertmaster for Hermann Abendroth's Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne. He then served as concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Wilhelm Furtwängler and Bruno Walter from 1926 to 1933...
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