Flute Teaching - The French School of Flute Playing
"Le son de flûte est la poésie de Pan " - Paul Taffanel
For thousands of years the sound of the flute has fascinated man, and the instrument can probably be regarded as one of the oldest.
The modern Boehm flute covers 3 octaves, and the beauty and flexibility of the sound, together with its capacity of modulation can in many ways be compared to the human voice - in other words the flute gives a unique possibility of singing on the instrument. The music must have transparency, be plastic and transcendent.
For the one who wants to learn the art of
flute playing, the teaching starts with a great wish to get to know the
instrument in detail. Each generation of musicians carries their tradition
and passes on their experiences with great pleasure.
A flute is not a trumpet - it must sound beautiful, as it is - a flute and no more. What is a beautiful sound is not just about strength, high sound etc., but modulation of sound and harmonics. Read more… Jean-Pierre Rampal.
Quality of the sound, richness in overtones,
and an exquisite
that is the French sound e.g.
I teach everybody who is interested in the
instrument, and over the years I have had students from many different
From my teacher, Verner Nicolet, who studied
with principal flutist at the Royal Opera Orchestra, Holger Gilbert
Jespersen (1890-1975), I have heard much about Gilbert's fantastic flute
playing. I have a couple of records by him, among others his recording of
Carl Nielsen's Flute Concerto with a quite wonderful and imaginative flute
playing, which is completely unsurpassed in its expression and power. Below
you can read a couple of statements by Gilbert Jespersen himself, which give
a fine idea of the artist's education and work as a musician e.g. in Paris
where he studied with both Hennebains and Gaubert.
I started at the Royal
Academy of Music studying with the then
flutist of the Royal Orchestra Fr. Storm. He was a wonderful person and an
excellent musician, and he taught me the love of France, the homeland of
flute playing, where I soon continued to study. I began to study with
Hennebains and played as a substitute in the Paris Opera Orchestra. Later I
went to France again, and this time I studied with Gaubert, who became one
of my best friends. When my former teacher Storm left the Royal Orchestra in
1927, I took over his seat, and at the same time I started teaching at the
Royal Academy of Music where later I became a professor.
I got a lot of work in Paris thanks to my teacher Philippe Gaubert, who is a conductor of the orchestra at the Grand Opera and a famous flute virtuoso. Gaubert was often hindered at the concerts where his name was on the programme because he had to conduct at the opera or teach at the academy of music - and then he sent me instead. Thereby I got to know many people in the world of music and got quite a few engagements. However, I will not be stuck in Paris for ever even though it is probably the city in the world where music, everything considered, is in its strongest position now, and where my instrument, the flute, is especially played with love and solicitude. I think it is connected with the sense of style of the French and their enormous tradition and respect for what dates back from ancient time.
I am just a humble servant for the music, which is a divine art. When I play, I feel a plastic insight in the music and an urge to express the composer's intention without any personal vanity. The one who expresses something must stand aside in favour of the creative person. The flute is a flexible instrument which can easily merge from one feeling into the other. I am more fond of my flute now than ever before, it has become more valuable to me. I will not just allow my fingers to fly up and down the flute tube - I want to make performances with insight and deep artistic feeling.
There has been a time when the flute as a solo instrument almost became silent. But Gilbert Jespersen owns a magic flute which in this country and probably also in other places can make the interest come fully alive again. Especially on the deep notes his tone is unusually soft and full, and in the various registers it has a capacity of modulation which is developed with virtuosity.
On the below links to mp3-files you can hear 3 famous French flutists' flute playing in recordings on Edison rolls from before 1900 and on 78" records with recordings from before 1940.
Video: Marcel Moyse on the
sound of the flute
Concerts du Conservatoire
Sturkas, Marco & Sophy