Flautist with Flair

A pop star who’s a flute player? Doesn’t sound credible in this day an age, but hold on a second. There was a world-class French musician, who died this day 17 years ago: he not only returned to the flute the popularity as a solo classical instrument it had not held since the 18th century, but beguiled young and old, jazz and classical music enthusiasts alike, into joys of delirium as he strode the world stage – a large man with a tiny slim silvery magical ‘wand’ that did wonders to transform any piece of music he was performing. Who was he? Let’s find out who was this flautist with flair to the extent that memory serves me…..

Let’s delve a bit into Rampal’s background: He was the son of a flute teacher but was encouraged to become a doctor, and he attended Marseille Medical School. During World War II he was drafted into a German labour camp, and he abandoned his studies to go underground in Paris.

Rampal began taking flute lessons at the Paris Conservatory and garnered attention after winning the school’s prestigious competition. After the war he began his career as a flutist in the Vichy Opéra orchestra (1947–51) and later was first flute at the Paris Opéra (1956–62). In 1968 he joined the faculty of the Paris Conservatory. Particularly devoted to chamber music, Rampal founded the French Wind Quintet in 1945 and the Baroque Ensemble of Paris in 1953. In addition to making international concert tours, he edited music by Baroque composers. In later years he took up conducting. His popularity was in large part due to his extensive recordings. Rampal gained admiration for his authentic interpretation of 18th-century music, his smooth, cleanly articulated tone, and his mastery of subtle tonal nuance.  Francis Poulenc composed works for him. Rampal’s autobiography, Music, My Love, was published in 1989.

References: My Diary, Wikipedia, Music of Three More Seasons 1977-1980 by Andrew Porter, Encyclopedia Britannica.

Here’s an Interesting family history that ties up with our French hero: As a budding composer, my youngest daughter, Priya, wrote a piece when still an 8-year old that she dedicated to Jean-Pierre Rampal and which he performed as an encore at his sold-out Florida Philharmonic concert in 1977. Entitled Visions for Flute and Piano you can hear it below played in 1978 by faculty members of the Hochstein School of Music, Rochester, NY with Glendda Dove (flute) and Joseph Werner (piano). Joseph, by the way, taught Priya the piano for about a year at Hochstein.

Dear Readers,
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