Michel Corboz (1934 – 2021)

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Board of Trustees wishes to convey its deepest condolences on the passing of Michel Corboz and express its fullest gratitude to the honorary maestro of the Gulbenkian Choir.

Throughout over half a century, Corboz was the lead maestro of the Choir and having taken up the position of honorary maestro in February of this year. In 2019, the Foundation had commemorated his premiere with the Gulbenkian Choir that took place on 17 December 1969.  This was the first of a huge number of concerts staged jointly by the Gulbenkian Choir and Orchestra; many of which coincide with pinnacles in the performances of these group, whether live, both in Portugal and internationally, or recorded. 

The Foundation President recalled his role in the “international affirmation of the Gulbenkian Choir” as well as “his consistent artistic direction and that prepared successive generations of singers for the Gulbenkian Choir itself.” Isabel Mota also recalled his participations in various music season “high points, such as the Christmas and Easter concerts when, year after year, Michel Corboz would share his inspired interpretations of the Passions of Saint Matthew and Saint John and the Bach Oratories of Christmas and Easter.”

Throughout his career, the Swiss maestro made a total of 37 recordings with the Gulbenkian Choir, with many going on to win international awards, including: Jephte by Carissimi (1972), Le jugement Dernier by Charpentier (1979) and Lauda Sion by Mendelssohn (1979, awarded the Grand Prix from Académie Charles Cros); Mozart’s Requiem (1976, Prix Académie National du Disque), Paulus by Mendelssohn (1988, Prix Berlioz 1989) and La Danse des Morts by Honegger (1990, Orphée d’Or 1991).

There were also many memorable concerts and international tours by Michel Corboz and the Gulbenkian Choir to South America, Israel, Macau, France, Italy and Spain, among other destinations. 

Michel Corboz lived in Lausanne, in Switzerland and was 87 years of age.