In 2017, Cabrillo Festival’s principal bass Ted Botsford brought a very special solo bass piece to our Donors Concert. François Rabbath’s Rhapsody, originally penned in the 1960s, was revised in the 2000s while Ted was in Paris studying with and assisting Rabbath as he refined his catalogue. When a resulting anthology was published, Ted was honored to find Rabbath had dedicated Rhapsody to him! Ted’s 2017 performance was so riveting, we requested that he reprise it for our 2018 Community Night concert, where it thrilled a near-capacity crowd.
François Rabbath: Rhapsody (duration: 12 mins)
About François Rabbath: “Born in Aleppo, Syria into a musical family of six boys and three girls, François [Rabbath] discovered the double bass at the age of thirteen when one of his brothers brought an instrument home and allowed him to experiment with it. When the family moved to Beirut, Lebanon he found an old copy of Edouard Nanny’s Contrabass Method in a tailor shop and with some difficulty, since he read neither music nor French, began to teach himself. After nine years of work in Beirut, François saved enough money to move to Paris for a year. He was eager to go to the Paris Conservatory, meet with Monsieur Nanny and show him what he was able to do with the bass. When he applied at the Conservatory he was disappointed to learn that Nanny had died in 1947. He was also told that auditions were to be held in three days and that he would never have enough time to learn the required pieces. He asked for the music anyway and returned three days later to finish first among the applicants. However, his stay at the Conservatory was a brief one, since it didn’t take very long to see that he was not only far ahead of the other students but of the professors as well!
While in Paris he began to earn his living as an accompanist for Jacque Brel, Charles Aznavour, Gilbert Becaud, Michel Legrand and others. In 1963 he made his first of many solo record albums. Although never advertised or promoted, the Phillips album Bass Ball became one of the most sought after recordings of its time. From 1964 he became active composing much music for movies and the theater. At the same time he started to play solo recitals, first in France, then throughout Europe. His American debut was in Carnegie Hall in 1975.
François Rabbath’s uniqueness stems from his refusal to accept any traditional limitations. Whether performing his own fascinating compositions, the music of others or the classical repertoire, one is always moved by his profound musicianship and dazzling virtuosity.” (read the full bio at Liben.com)