1844 – Tulou, 10e Grand Solo


Gustave Lemou, born on 23 November 1828 in Auxerre, was 15 years old when he got the first price in the 1844 concours. He also held a first price in solfège a year before. Lemou was an outstanding flute student as Tulou reports: „has made noticeable progress in the short time he has been in my class (1842); very good reader, easy embouchure, light fingers, gives a lot of hope; gives hope, works quite well (1843), did not work as hard this year; but nevertheless has made remarkable progress; he is in very good health. (1844)“ Already in 1843 when Lemou won the second price he was mentioned in the Revue musicale: „(…) and the youngest of them all, a child of twelve or thirteen years of age, who started out as a ship’s boy, and who is already an excellent musician, won by a landslide over his two competitors“ (A.Z. Revue musicale 13 August 1843). Lemou was actually 14 years old but must have appeared younger. A year later Paul Smith mentions him in his report about the concours: „Flute. – First prize: Mr. Lemou, a young student barely sixteen years old, and to whom we would give at most twelve, who started out as a ship’s boy, and has only been at the Conservatory for two years.“ (Revue et Gazette musicale 11.8.1844)
As price winner Lemou could play in the concert of the distibution of prices. In the review of that concert we get more information about his playing: „The young flute player Lemou distinguished himself above all by his charming quality of tone and the elegance of his style“ (Revue et Gazette musicale 24.11.1844). Not only did Tulou highly estimate his playing, other teachers did as well. So did the horn teacher Meifred predict him a brillant future. Although his playing was very promising he later did not appear in the musical press. We only find him in several theatres such as the Théâtre de l’Ambigu-Comique (1845) and the orchestras of the Théâtre Montausier, the Folies-Dramatiques and the Théâtre Dejazet. He died in 1876 or 1877.

Antoine-Noël Alrit, born on 24 December 1822 in Brest, started studying with Tulou on 13 October 1843 at the age of 20. Alrit didn’t stay very long with Tulou. A year later he already took part at the concours and won a second price. It will take another four years until he finally leaves the Conservatoire with a first price. The reason hererefore is to be found in Tulou’s reports. He notes: “good musician, a nice embouchure, a lot of ease and a good musical feeling. He is a remarkable subject. (1842); a fairly good embouchure, easy fingers, passable musician (1843); ease of execution, a fairly good embouchure; but the ear is not very delicate for accuracy; however, he has made significant progress. (1844); has worked a lot this year; has been obliged to go to his regiment which is in garrison at Caen. I beg the Director to grant him a leave of absence. (1845); absent since last August, having been obliged to follow his regiment which is in garrison at Caen (1846); had obtained a leave of absence from the Conservatoire to follow his regiment at Caen; his last military service having ended and he returned to class two months ago, he is a pupil whose musical education is almost complete (1848).“ According to Tulou Alrit was a fairly good flute player. His playing quality was also mentioned in a concert review in 1847: „[concert in Nantes] Alrit (…) played gracious variations with great correction and easiness.“ (Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris 28.11.1847) Alrit did not stay in the military service. He first played in the théâtre lyrique in Paris and later in orchestra of the theater in Nantes (and the théâtre lyrique in Lyon?). He died in 1879 at the age of 56.

The flute used in the recording is a special one as Lemou received it for his first prize. This event is marked on a plaque on the head joint. On it is written: CONSERVATOIRE R.AL / DE MUSIQUE / 1ER PRIX A G.LEMOUx / ELEVE DE MR TULOU 1844. The “x” at the end of his name seems to have been added later. This is a bit surprising since none of the known documents uses this spelling. From a flute player’s point of view, the instrument has all desirable properties: its intonation is excellent, it sounds stable across all octaves, the keys are ergonomic and the springs are very light, which allows virtuoso playing without much effort. Besides the usual five keys for C, Bb, G#, F and D# Lemou’s flute also has an F# key which is operated by the little finger of the right hand. When opened it raises the F#. This high F#, used as leading note, is very typical for the French performance practice of that time. Sharper notes are most often produced by alternative fingerings, but as there is no real alternative fingering for the sharp F# besides a badly sounding fork fingering, Tulou decided to add the F# key.
The piano is a 1854 Pleyel.