The French “Legion of Honor” Awards

By: Frank Cadenhead, July 19, 2021

The Légion d’Honneur is the highest French order of merit, both military and civil. It was created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte and has been retained by all later French governments and régimes. The seat of the order is the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur, just next to the Musée d’Orsay on the left bank of the Seine in Paris. The honors in the field of classical music were numerous this 14th of July and has both new recipients and elevations.

The American-born dancer Carolyn Carlson, whose long and distinguished career in dance and choreography in France made her a member of the highly-select Académie des Beaux-Arts, now has the title of “Commandeur” next to her name.

Soprano and opera director Natalie Dessay, already a “Chevalier” in 2012, was upgraded to “Officer” as was Raymond Duffaut, former director of the Chorégies d’Orange and the Opéra d’Avignon. After 12 years at the helm of the orchestra of the Opéra de Paris, Philippe Jordan was designated “Chevalier,” as was the Romanian soprano Viorica Cortez. The director general of the Opéra de Montpellier, Valérie Chevalier, now has a repetitive title, “Chevalier,” after her name as also the French pianist Marie-Josèphe Jude.

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