In 1853, the Revue Musicale has only little to report about the flute students of the concours: “Teacher, M. Tulou. 1st prize, MM. Alvès and Devalois; 2nd prize, M. Laflorence. There were only three competitors in this class, and the three prizes were given unanimously.”
Martin-Édouard Alvès, born on the 1st April 1834 in Paris, was 19 years old when he won the first price at the 1853 concours. Alvès was a model pupil. He entered the flute class in the autumn of 1849 at the age of 15 and quickly made great progress. In the following three years, Tulou noted only positive things: „good worker – has made great progress in a short time; for the short time he has been in my class, he has made great progress, I have high hopes for him (1850), works hard, and the progress he has made in the short time he has been in my class, gives me hope that he will soon be a very good student; has made great progress since 6 months (1851), has accuracy in the class, works consistently – has made significant progress (1852), is zealous and works with courage – he has made a lot of progress since last year. In June 1853, shortly before the concours, Alvès was forced to cut back. Tulou noted: „has made much progress; but a chest ailment prevents him from working as hard as he would like. He is a good student“ Alvès was not the only one plagued by the disease; his classmate Laflorance was also struck by chest pains. Despite his health problems Alvès won a first price. He later played in the Orchestre Théâtre Lyrique
Eugène-Jean Devalois, born on 10 June 1826 in Paris, was 27 years old when he won the first price at the 1853. He is the oldest documented student of Tulou’s class who finished their studies. His studies have not been without problems. He was already 19 years old when he began his studies at the Conservatoire. Tulou did not take him into his class quite voluntarily as we can read in his report from 2 December 1845. He notes: „is too old to give any hope, and above all is too little of a musician. I have kept him in the class only to satisfy the desire of the Director [Auber] and to be agreeable to the [Louis-Auguste-Michel Félicité Le Tellier?] Marquis de Louvois.“
The Marquis de Louvois was no stranger to the art world (he died in 1844, so it is strange that Tulou still felt obliged to him, or was this obligation to his nephew?). He organised concerts in his house and was a member of the “commission spéciale des théâtres royeaux” as well as of the committee of the “association des artistes-musiciens”, an association that supported poor musicians. Auber was also a member of the committee, Tulou was one of the vice-directors. Moreover, he was a loyal royalist, so it probably seemed impossible to refuse such a request.
Tulou’s concerns did not change significantly over the years, as the following reports show: „low in all; bad musician. Fair sound quality; but very difficult fingers (1846), bad musician – heavy fingers, no facility in execution – little hope (1847), little progress despite his zeal to work, goes to great lengths, without result (1848), poor musician and not very good at playing the flute, still the same – weak, his progress is still slow despite his good will (1849), despite his efforts, his progress is not very noticeable, its progress is not very significant (1850), he is a student who follows the lessons of the Conservatory with accuracy. He works hard, but his progress is slow. (1851)“
In summer 1851 Devalois finally won a second price. This seems to have given him a boost, because the following year Tulou noted: „Zealous student; has made some progress this year (1852)“ In 1853, the time had finally come and Devalois was allowed to take part in the concours. Tulou wrote in the report: „follows my class with zeal – makes good progress“, but later also „zealous student; but his progress is not very noticeable (1853)“. Against all odds, Devalois received a first prize. He fought his way through and completed his studies, not everyone succeeded in this.
His career after graduation is hardly documented. Devalois no longer appears in the press. According to Constant Pierre he later played in the Orchestre du Théâtre Lyrique.
Jean-Baptiste Laflorance, born on the 4th August 1836 in Bordeaux, was 17 years old when he won the second price in the 1853. He played in the Orchestre de l’Opéra Comique, the Concerts Danbé, in the Société des Concerts, and, from September 1876, in the Opéra.
The flute played in the video was made by the Triébert workshop in Paris around the mid-19th century. It has several trill keys which make the instrument quite heavy for the left hand. None of the concours works for the simple system flute has a trill that would require one of these extra trill keys. The piano is a 1829 Pleyel.