Pierre Fournier was a French cellist who was called the "aristocrat of cellists," on account of his elegant musicianship and majestic sound.
He was born in Paris, the son of a French Army general. His mother taught him to play the piano, but he had a mild case of polio as a child and lost dexterity in his feet and legs. Having difficulties with the piano pedals, he turned to the cello.
He received early training from Odette Krettly, and from 1918 studied with AndrÃ© Hekking and later with Paul Bazelaire. He graduated from the Paris Conservatory at 17, in 1923. He was hailed as "the cellist of the future" and won praise for his virtuosity and bowing technique. In the period 1925-1929 he was a member of the Krettly Quartet, led by Odette's brother Robert Krettly.
He became well known when he played with the Concerts Colonne Orchestra in 1925. He began touring all over Europe. At various stages he played with many of the most highly acclaimed, prestigious musicians of his time, and recorded the complete chamber music of Brahms and Schubert for the BBC on acetates. However, these deteriorated before the recordings could be transferred to a more durable medium. He is also praised for his recordings of the Bach suites, which are regarded even now as some of the best versions ever made. His other discs include LPs of Beethoven's cello sonatas and Elgar's Cello Concerto; these have long since been available on CD.