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Flutists in Paris. The School of Blavet in the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century. 9789090363714

Flutists in Paris. The School of Blavet in the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century

Broekman van Poppel. 2022

Ficha técnica

  • EAN: 9789090363714
  • ISBN: 978-90-9036-371-4
  • Editorial: Broekman van Poppel
  • Fecha de edición: 2022
  • Idioma: Inglés

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This is a beautifully presented book which presents some excellent research on flute players in Paris in the second half of the 18th Century. Michel Blavet (1700?1768) has an established reputation as one of the main musical figures in the French baroque and was one of the leading flute players of the time (along with Quantz and Buffardin), but the available information about flute players in Paris at that time seems to have focussed on him and then stopped.
In this book, Dutch flute player, editor and researcher Rien de Reede seeks to address this gap in the extant knowledge about Blavet?s successors, his two most successful students, Pierre Évrard Taillart and Félix Rault, who are the missing link between Blavet and the well-known French players of the 19th Century. Both Taillart and Rault were recognised as the foremost players of their time; Taillart succeeded Blavet in the Concert spirituel in Paris and Rault was appointed to the court of Louis XVI and gave the premiere of Gluck?s Dance of the Blessed Spirits under the baton of the composer. Both were also highly successful teachers, with Rault?s students including Devienne, Hugot and Wunderlich.
The book is illustrated with portraits of flute players from the era; these images are reproduced clearly and provide plenty of information about the status of the flute at that time, showing well-dressed men in luxurious settings holding one-keyed flutes which look like they could be made of boxwood. These images help us to gain a contextual awareness of the times under discussion in the book, and we are also presented with Blavet?s obituary, from Le Nécrologe des hommes célèbre de France published in 1770. Still in the original French, this gives us a clear oversight of Blavet?s life and achievements, as seen by his contemporaries.
The first part of the book explores the work of Taillart and Rault in detail, drawing from a vast array of documentary evidence. Taillart (c1715?1782) was considered to be on a par with Blavet, and was so respected as a teacher that students travelled internationally to study with him. He took over from Blavet at the Concert spirituel from 1751, following several successful performances including a concerto in 1750. Rien de Reede has uncovered some fascinating details of his career and concert life, which also provide wider insights into the musical world of Paris at the time. Taillart was also a composer and arranger, who was granted royal assent to publish his two books of sonatas for the flute, as well as works by other composers. Rault (1736?1806) is often described as the link between Blavet (his teacher) and Wunderlich (his student). Under Blavet?s guidance, he was appointed to the Académie royale de musique (Paris Opera) when he was just 17 years old. His appointment became permanent in 1758, and following Blavet?s death he was also appointed to the Musique du Roi. Reede presents us with fascinating tales of musical exploits, imprisonment and the French revolution; Rault was a central character in Paris at the
time and the various source materials explored provide us with a detailed account.
The second part of the book is an Annotated Lexicon of French and Foreign Flutists in the Parisian Media from 1750?1800. As the title suggests, this is a listing of all of the different flute players whose names appear in media sources of the time. It provides a comprehensive overview of Parisian flute-playing life, as it takes into account a wide range of source materials, including the Almanach musical where musicians were invited to submit their own information for inclusion.
As the author points out, these flute players are predominantly male; it was seen as most unusual for a woman to play the flute at that time. There are just two women listed, Mlle Taillart and Mlle Mudrich, who both performed in the Concert spirituel. The Lexicon is fascinating; brought together in this way, we can get a clear idea of how the flute fitted into Parisian society at the time?who played it, where it was played and what was played on it. Many of the names that appear were previously unknown to me, but there are some enlightening entries on Blavet, Buffardin, Delusse, Devienne, Hotteterre, Hugot, Monzani, Wendling, Wunderlich and others. The evidence from the sources has allowed Rien de Reede to pull together some useful (and perhaps not always widely known) biographical details. I was particularly intrigued to read about the argument between Buffardin and Delusse, and there are many other fascinating bits of information to discover about the less well-known players of the time as well.
This is a small book which is packed full of careful research and detailed information. The ideas are presented in small, easy to read sections, meaning that it has potential to be of interest to all flute players, not just those with an academic interest in the flute. The Lexicon in particular is excellent for looking up individual players or composers that one might encounter through a wider search of the repertoire. The research is thorough and clearly referenced so that anyone with a curiosity for further investigation can explore the source materials, some of which can be found online. This would make an ideal Christmas present for anyone with an interest in the history of our instrument?it?s full of interesting knowledge and looks beautiful as well. [Carla Rees]



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