Born in Paris, France, he began conducting at the very early age of twelve. One of his most prominent roles in his early career was that of principal conductor with Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, with whom he conducted the premieres of Ravel's Daphnis Et Chloé, Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring, Rossignol and Petroushka.
In later years Monteux moved to the United States, where he became permanent conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and then the The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. In his 80s he took up a post as chief conductor to the London Symphony Orchestra in 1961. Unfortunately this was short lived tenure, and after a number of short illnesses, Monteux suffered a serious fall in 1964, and died that year at the age of 89.