Pierre Fournier (June 24, 1906 – January 8, 1986) 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 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. He became well known when he played with the Edouard Colonne Orchestra in 1925. He began touring all over Europe. 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 to be some of the suites' best recordings.
Fournier taught at the École Normale de Musique in Paris and the Paris Conservatory from 1937 to 1949. He made his first tour of the United States in 1948 and played to great acclaim in New York and Boston.
From 1956 on, he made his home in Switzerland, although he never relinquished his French citizenship. In 1963, he was made a member of the French Legion of Honor.
He continued performing until two years before his death at the age of 79. He also continued to teach privately at his home in Geneva: the British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber was among his pupils.
His son Jean-Pierre became a pianist performing under the name of Jean Fonda.