He helped revive Vivaldi's name, wrote the ballet La Giara, and educated many future artists.
He studied piano with Louis Diémer and composition with Gabriel Fauré at the Conservatoire de Paris beginning in 1896. His classmates were George Enescu and Maurice Ravel.
He served as principal conductor of the Boston Pops from 1927 until 1929. His successor was Arthur Fielder.
He was born into a musical family. His grandfather served as first cellist in Lisbon's San Carlo Theatre, was a soloist at Turin's Royal Chapel, and was friends with Paganini. His father and two uncles were professional cellists, while his mother was a pianist.
He first heard Claude Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune in 1898, which fostered in him a great admiration for the composer.