1842 – Tulou, 8e Grand Solo

 

On 6 November 1842 the author “R.” reports about the concours: “Flute, class of M. Tulou. First prize, M. Altès. There was only one competitor; but it is not to this circumstance that M. Altès owes the honour he has obtained. This young artist, who is only sixteen and a half years old, is by nature and by education one of the best musicians and most skilful flutists we have heard: only his master could compete with him.”

The eighth Grand Solo is a real piece of work. Although it is in the relatively simple key of B minor and has a modest range from D1 to A3, it is technically one of the most demanding concours works. The difficulty lies in the tempo set by Tulou. Tulou’s works rarely contain metronome indications, and in most cases these are within the normal range. For the Allegro of the eighth Grand Solo, Tulou notes 120M.M. for the half note. If one takes this tempo indication for the entire Allegro literally, the tempo means 240 per quarter for the following sixteenth-note passage.

Is it a coincidence that Tulou composes this breathtakingly fast and also shortest grand solo in the very year in which the child prodigy Altès is the only candidate for the concours? The other seven flute students are not eligible: Caillant and Vedrenne (no prize) still have great difficulty with their tonguing and fingers despite some progress, Blanco (1st prize in 1846) works diligently but makes only little progress, Santiquet (no prize) has been in the class for two years but makes hardly any progress, Lemou (1st prize in 1844) is making very good progress, but is not yet ready for the concours, and Bruyant (most probably Antoine Auguste, 1st prize oboe 1849) and Morel have only been in the class since three and two months. It seems as if Tulou had tailored the solo to suit Altès. Altès impressed with his high virtuosity, and this is used wonderfully in this Grand Solo. Did Tulou want to demonstrate with the metronome markings the high tempo at which Altès played the Grand Solo? Or are they an indication that the Grand Solos were generally played at a rather high tempo? Of the concours works, apart from the eighth, only the tenth Grand Solo and the fantasy on Il Trovatore op. 106 have metronome markings. These, however, are in the normal range. As Tulou did not change the metronome marking in the second edition of this Grand Solo, it can be assumed that they are correct. The eighth Grand Solo, however, contains not only virtuoso passages. The introduction is very songful, and the tempo can also be calmed down a little in-between, as for example in the following passage after a short poco ritenuto interlode of the piano.

Nobile or espressivo passages should be played in a somewhat slower tempo. Although in his method Tulou does not give any explanation about these terms, it is evident when playing and reading the score. Sometimes, as in the 8th Grand Solo, the accompaniment slows down before, sometimes Tulou adds an a tempo after these passages. In Nobile passages, tempo rubato sounds less convincing than in espressivo passages. Is it maybe the noble character that does not permit emotional fluctuations?

Joseph-Henri Altès is no unknown person. He was born in Rouen on 18 January 1826. According to Fétis, he began his studies with Tulou on 7 December 1840 at the age of almost 15. Only six months later, he received a second prize, followed by the first prize the following year. Paul Smith was enthusiastic about his talent and predicted a brilliant career for him. Indeed, years later Altès would become solo flutist in several orchestras and, like Tulou, professor at the Conservatoire. First, however, the Parisian public hears him in various concerts. In the early years, he competed with Bernard-Martin Rémusat (four years older) and Jules Demersseman (seven years younger), who were about the same age. In 1849 Hector Berlioz heard him in concert and reported in the Revue Musicale on 4 February: “He really plays the flute in a remarkable way. But this was already known.” In the summer of the same year, another critic in the Journal des débats politiques et littéraires wrote in more detail: “He has a very pure tone, an excellent style, and, for agility, he would be able to play sixty-four notes per second, without embarrassment (9 June)” It is precisely this speed of his fingers that makes Altès stand out from the start. It is his great trump card, with which he outshines the perhaps less convincing aspects of his flute playing. On 7 December 1848, Altès marries the singer Émilie-Francisque Ribault, who is seven years younger. At this time he is employed at the Opéra-Comique, but soon after moves to the Opéra, where he will remain until 1876. In 1849 he plays second flute there alongside Dorus. In 1853 he also plays second flute alongside Dorus in the newly founded Nouvelle chapelle de l’empereur (Le Siècle 22.2.1853). Both also play together in the Société des concerts. After Dorus retired in 1868, Altès took over the position of first flute in all orchestras.

That both flute players are a well-rehearsed team is shown by the following report by Berlioz in the Journal des débats politiques et littéraires of 24.10.1861 about his revival of Gluck’s opera Alceste: “Messrs Dorus and Altès have found exactly the degree of power that should be given to the low notes of the flute and which covers the melody with such a chaste colouring. Earlier, when I heard Alceste, the first flute of the opera, which was neither modest nor the first in its art, like M. Dorus, completely destroyed this beautiful effect of the instrumentation. He did not want the second flute to play with him, and in order to dominate the orchestra, he transposed his part into the upper octave, thus mocking Gluck’s intention. And they let him have his way. After such an assault, he deserved to be dismissed from the Opéra and sentenced to six months in prison.” The flute player in question must have been Guillou, for the opera was performed in Paris in 1825. Berlioz was 21 years old at the time.

Like Dorus, Altès played the Boehm flute, but it is unknown in which year he changed to the Boehm flute. There is only evidence of the purchase of a Boehm flute from the Lot workshop in 1860 (no. 476).

Altès seems to be completely absorbed by orchestral playing, for he is less often to be found in the Paris newspapers with solo appearances than his colleagues and competitors Dorus, Brunot or Demersseman. Sometimes, together with his brother Ernest (violinist and, from 1871, conductor at the Opéra), he organises concerts in which he performs alongside his orchestral colleagues. On 25 April 1854, it is written in Le Constitutionnel that “Henri Altès, one of our best flutists, performed a fantasy of his own composition on motifs from the Perle du Brésil.” Like so many virtuosos, Altès plays his own compositions. The fact that his works, like those of many flute players, are not of the highest compositional quality is in fact secondary, since they serve above all to put one’ s own playing strengths in the limelight.

16 August 1870 “I have said that the flute class has lost a great deal through the retirement of M. Dorus. The pupils of Mr. Altès all have the same fault as their teacher: they suffer from a poor quality of tone. This defect becomes a real infirmity in the low notes, which are very beautiful when one knows how to play them; Meyerbeer made excellent use of them in the story of the dream in Le Prophet; Berlioz himself was mistaken, and thought he heard two cornets à pistons placed in the blower’s embouchure hole. In the piece chosen for this year’s competition, low notes were avoided. Moreover, the jury awarded the first prize to a student who, because of his temperament, cannot have a very warm or vigorous playing. When I speak of the flute, everyone immediately names Mr Taffanel, and I don’t disagree.

27 August 1872 “I recommend to Mr. Altès that he stop beating the bar while his pupils are playing the sight-reading piece. It is already too much to indicate the movement before they start.”

8 September 1874 “I suspected Mr. Altès to be, as last year, the author of the flute piece. It seemed to be a fragment of a concerto, as poor in ideas as in construction. Mr Altès amused himself by reproducing I don’t know how many times in the accompaniment a little drawing made up of the first four notes of the air: J’ai du bon tabac (do re mi do). He could have repeated it from one end of the piece to the other, either simply, or in thirds or sixths. Nothing is easier than to make learned music of this kind (…) The flutists continue to be noticed for the mediocre quality of their sounds in general and for the weakness of the low tones. M. Molé alone, who won the first prize, is an exception, no doubt because, as a member of the orchestra of the Champs Elysées concerts, conducted by M. Cressonnois, he is used to playing solos in public and in the open air.”

24 August 1875 “M. Altès gave us a fantasy of his own, which, without being a masterpiece, is nevertheless more acceptable than his other works played in previous years. But he takes his ease in competitions; he speaks of his pupils when he likes and as long as he likes. The sound that the pupils make on their instruments resembles that of their teacher.”

15 August 1882 “Mr Altès kept the quartet to accompany the flute competition. Can’t he beat the measure calmly, without his hands, his feet, his head and his whole body getting involved? It is infinitely too much mimicry. A second prize and three accessits are all that was awarded to a class that remains in honest and respectable mediocrity.”

bust of Altès, now in Paris, musée Carnavalet.

It is very clear that Weber does not think much of Altès. He would probably have preferred to see Taffanel in the position. But there are also positive voices, as the following article in Le Figaro of 3 August 1881 shows:: „The flute class has Mr Henri Altès as its teacher (…he) has been a little prodigy, which is rare among instrumentalists for whom “respiring” is necessary above all (…) he is now content to make very good pupils. His competition this year is proof of this (…)”

Altès is described by his students as a strict and very systematic teacher, who above all adheres strictly to his method. He taught at the Conservatoire until 1893. Taffanel becomes his successor. Altès died in Paris on 24 July 1895.

Altès was immortalised by several artists. The most famous is the painting Les musiciens de l’orchestre by Edgar Degas, in which Altès is playing in the orchestra of the Opéra. Degas also painted a profile view of Altès. Less well known is the bust made by Jean-Pierre Dantan, now in the Musée Carnavalet in Paris. By chance, the exact date of its creation is known, for on 1 July 1855, the journalist Eugène Guinot describes in detail in La Presse littéraire his impressions of the artist’s visit to his apartment. There it says: “To go from the bedroom to the salon, you will cross the atelier where we first entered, the one where Dantan usually works. His last three works are there, still in hand (…) two artists’ heads: M. Altès, flute of the Opéra, one of the stars of this brilliant orchestra (…)”. Altès was still playing second flute in the Opéra at this time. Dantan, by the way, was a direct neighbour of Chopin. After Chopin’s departure, Dantan extended his flat by taking over Chopin’s flat.

The eight-keyed flute I play in this video is from Tulou’s workshop. Like many Tulou flutes from this period, it has a good intonation and a very fine tone throughout all octaves, which is not too small but not particularly large either. The necessary keys lie ergonomically and allow virtuoso playing, just the position of the long F-key is a bit too far down for my little finger. However, as it was barely necessary in this Grand Solo it did not bother me very much.

The piano is a 1843 Pleyel.

1841 – Tulou, 7e Grand Solo

 

On 8 August 1841, Paul Smith writes about the concours in the Revue Musicale: “The second session was devoted to all the wind instruments: bassoon, French horn, oboe, flute, ordinary horn and clarinet. Several of these competitions were very remarkable, especially those for oboe and flute. (…) Among the flutists, we saw a younger one appear, smaller than all the others, wearing the uniform of one of our regiments. This child, who is barely fourteen years old, answers to the name of Altès. You cannot imagine with what boldness, what ease, what brilliance, this child fulfilled his double task! M. Moreau, who had also shown great talent, and who counts more years, won the first prize; the young Altès only won the second, but he can be at ease: the first prize will fall to him long before he grows a beard. This is a hope of an artist, who must one day succeed M. Tulou, his teacher.”

Joseph-Félix-Aimé Moreau, born on 24 March 1823 in Dijon, was 18 years old when he won the first price in the 1841 concours. Many Moreaus have studied in Paris, however, their family circumstances are not known. In 1850 he lived in Joigny. Moreau was member of the Association des artistes musiciens. I didn’t find any information about his further career. 

Joseph-Henri Altès is no unknown person. He was born in Rouen on 18 January 1826. According to Fétis, he began his studies with Tulou on 7 December 1840 at the age of almost 15. Only six months later, he received a second prize, followed by the first prize the following year. Paul Smith was enthusiastic about his talent and predicted a brilliant career for him. Indeed, years later Altès would become solo flutist in several orchestras and, like Tulou, professor at the Conservatoire. First, however, the Parisian public hears him in various concerts. In the early years, he competed with Bernard-Martin Rémusat (four years older) and Jules Demersseman (seven years younger), who were about the same age. In 1849 Hector Berlioz heard him in concert and reported in the Revue Musicale on 4 February: “He really plays the flute in a remarkable way. But this was already known.” In the summer of the same year, another critic in the Journal des débats politiques et littéraires wrote in more detail: “He has a very pure tone, an excellent style, and, for agility, he would be able to play sixty-four notes per second, without embarrassment (9 June)” It is precisely this speed of his fingers that makes Altès stand out from the start. It is his great trump card, with which he outshines the perhaps less convincing aspects of his flute playing. On 7 December 1848, Altès marries the singer Émilie-Francisque Ribault, who is seven years younger. At this time he is employed at the Opéra-Comique, but soon after moves to the Opéra, where he will remain until 1876. In 1849 he plays second flute there alongside Dorus. In 1853 he also plays second flute alongside Dorus in the newly founded Nouvelle chapelle de l’empereur (Le Siècle 22.2.1853). Both also play together in the Société des concerts. After Dorus retired in 1868, Altès took over the position of first flute in all orchestras.

That both flute players are a well-rehearsed team is shown by the following report by Berlioz in the Journal des débats politiques et littéraires of 24.10.1861 about his revival of Gluck’s opera Alceste: “Messrs Dorus and Altès have found exactly the degree of power that should be given to the low notes of the flute and which covers the melody with such a chaste colouring. Earlier, when I heard Alceste, the first flute of the opera, which was neither modest nor the first in its art, like M. Dorus, completely destroyed this beautiful effect of the instrumentation. He did not want the second flute to play with him, and in order to dominate the orchestra, he transposed his part into the upper octave, thus mocking Gluck’s intention. And they let him have his way. After such an assault, he deserved to be dismissed from the Opéra and sentenced to six months in prison.” The flute player in question must have been Guillou, for the opera was performed in Paris in 1825. Berlioz was 21 years old at the time. 

Like Dorus, Altès played the Boehm flute, but it is unknown in which year he changed to the Boehm flute. There is only evidence of the purchase of a Boehm flute from the Lot workshop in 1860 (no. 476).

Altès seems to be completely absorbed by orchestral playing, for he is less often to be found in the Paris newspapers with solo appearances than his colleagues and competitors Dorus, Brunot or Demersseman. Sometimes, together with his brother Ernest (violinist and, from 1871, conductor at the Opéra), he organises concerts in which he performs alongside his orchestral colleagues. On 25 April 1854, it is written in Le Constitutionnel that “Henri Altès, one of our best flutists, performed a fantasy of his own composition on motifs from the Perle du Brésil.” Like so many virtuosos, Altès plays his own compositions. The fact that his works, like those of many flute players, are not of the highest compositional quality is in fact secondary, since they serve above all to put one’ s own playing strengths in the limelight. 

16 August 1870 “I have said that the flute class has lost a great deal through the retirement of M. Dorus. The pupils of Mr. Altès all have the same fault as their teacher: they suffer from a poor quality of tone. This defect becomes a real infirmity in the low notes, which are very beautiful when one knows how to play them; Meyerbeer made excellent use of them in the story of the dream in Le Prophet; Berlioz himself was mistaken, and thought he heard two cornets à pistons placed in the blower’s embouchure hole. In the piece chosen for this year’s competition, low notes were avoided. Moreover, the jury awarded the first prize to a student who, because of his temperament, cannot have a very warm or vigorous playing. When I speak of the flute, everyone immediately names Mr Taffanel, and I don’t disagree.

27 August 1872 “I recommend to Mr. Altès that he stop beating the bar while his pupils are playing the sight-reading piece. It is already too much to indicate the movement before they start.” 

8 September 1874 “I suspected Mr. Altès to be, as last year, the author of the flute piece. It seemed to be a fragment of a concerto, as poor in ideas as in construction. Mr Altès amused himself by reproducing I don’t know how many times in the accompaniment a little drawing made up of the first four notes of the air: J’ai du bon tabac (do re mi do). He could have repeated it from one end of the piece to the other, either simply, or in thirds or sixths. Nothing is easier than to make learned music of this kind (…) The flutists continue to be noticed for the mediocre quality of their sounds in general and for the weakness of the low tones. M. Molé alone, who won the first prize, is an exception, no doubt because, as a member of the orchestra of the Champs Elysées concerts, conducted by M. Cressonnois, he is used to playing solos in public and in the open air.”

24 August 1875 “M. Altès gave us a fantasy of his own, which, without being a masterpiece, is nevertheless more acceptable than his other works played in previous years. But he takes his ease in competitions; he speaks of his pupils when he likes and as long as he likes. The sound that the pupils make on their instruments resembles that of their teacher.” 

15 August 1882 “Mr Altès kept the quartet to accompany the flute competition. Can’t he beat the measure calmly, without his hands, his feet, his head and his whole body getting involved? It is infinitely too much mimicry. A second prize and three accessits are all that was awarded to a class that remains in honest and respectable mediocrity.”

bust of Altès, now in Paris, musée Carnavalet.

It is very clear that Weber does not think much of Altès. He would probably have preferred to see Taffanel in the position. But there are also positive voices, as the following article in Le Figaro of 3 August 1881 shows:: „The flute class has Mr Henri Altès as its teacher (…he) has been a little prodigy, which is rare among instrumentalists for whom “respiring” is necessary above all (…) he is now content to make very good pupils. His competition this year is proof of this (…)”

Altès is described by his students as a strict and very systematic teacher, who above all adheres strictly to his method. He taught at the Conservatoire until 1893. Taffanel becomes his successor. Altès died in Paris on 24 July 1895.

Altès was immortalised by several artists. The most famous is the painting Les musiciens de l’orchestre by Edgar Degas, in which Altès is playing in the orchestra of the Opéra. Degas also painted a profile view of Altès. Less well known is the bust made by Jean-Pierre Dantan, now in the Musée Carnavalet in Paris. By chance, the exact date of its creation is known, for on 1 July 1855, the journalist Eugène Guinot describes in detail in La Presse littéraire his impressions of the artist’s visit to his apartment. There it says: “To go from the bedroom to the salon, you will cross the atelier where we first entered, the one where Dantan usually works. His last three works are there, still in hand (…) two artists’ heads: M. Altès, flute of the Opéra, one of the stars of this brilliant orchestra (…)”. Altès was still playing second flute in the Opéra at this time. Dantan, by the way, was a direct neighbour of Chopin. After Chopin’s departure, Dantan extended his flat by taking over Chopin’s flat.

The eight-keyed flute played in the video is from the Bellissent workshop (1818-42) and was probably made around 1830. Besides the usual six keys (C Bb G# sF D#) it has two curious but quite unnecessary keys. One small key is operated by the third finger of the left hand and serves as a second A-Bb (trill-)key. Another one is operated by the index finger of the right hand and serves as B-C# trill key (the Triébert flute, used in the Marco Spada fantasy has that trill-key as well). Bellissent’s name is probably a little less known than that of Godfroy and Tulou, but nevertheless, he played an important role in the Paris flute market. Just as other flute makers he tried to improve the flute by adding extra keys, using cork pads, mounting the tenons in cork and reinforcing them with a silver ferrule (shown at the 1827 exhibition in Paris). He also made a mechanism to lower and raise the pitch of the flute while playing. Most of features where used by other flute makers as well before him, so Bellissent was rather not their inventor.

The piano is a 1843 Pleyel.

1839 – Tulou, 5e Grand Solo

 

Hélène-Jean-Joseph Miramont, was born in Masdazil (Le Mas d’Azil / Ariège in the Pyrenees) on October 25, 1823. Seen from Paris, his birthplace is at the other end of the country, on the border with Spain. It is not known how Miramont came to Paris to study at the Conservatoire. Nothing is known about his period of study either. Apparently he already received a first prize in his first concours. This is astonishing in that he was only 15 years old. This circumstance speaks for great talent, for only a few students received a first prize immediately, among them Demersseman (then 12) and Taffanel (15). Nevertheless, little is known of his further career. He played in the Orchestre théâtre Montansier and in the concerts Pasdeloup. Miramont must have gone to Lyon in one of the following years and accepted a position in the orchestra there. However, this move must not have brought him anything good, because in 1851 L’Émancipation published an article in which he describes his predicament:

„Last Sunday’s performance was disturbed by an artistic mischief. Mr. Miramon had less macabre and more reasonable ways of asserting his rights, which we do not wish to appreciate at this time. Here is his justification. N. Tachoires

Dear Editor, In Sunday’s performance, the stage manager came to announce that the audience had missed me and I am not ungrateful enough for that. The audience has so far shown me too much benevolence, its applause is precious to me and I can never do too much to deserve it. I am only sorry that I did not foresee that the absence of a single flute could disturb the performance; I ask the audience to forgive me, and I beg them to read the letter I wrote to M. Mériel, our conductor, on the day of the performance. I think that through the mocking form of this letter, he will understand the state of exasperation in which we are almost all.

To Mr Mériel, conductor.

Dear Sir, I have a stomach damaged by the unhealthy and insufficient food to which the lack of payment has condemned me for so long. I do not want to alarm the maternal solicitude of the director by letting him know that he is putting me on the verge of dying of hunger; however, that is my situation. So I want to postpone this unpleasant moment as long as possible, and for this reason I am conserving my strength and taking a little rest. I have the honour to greet you. A victim of Article 11, Miramont”

Article 11 of the newly, in 1848, created French constitution said: “All property is inviolable. Nevertheless, the State may require the sacrifice of property for a legally established public purpose, and in return for fair and prior compensation.”

We can only speculate what happened to Miramont as a result of this article. Was he dispossessed?

In 1861, he plays one of his own compositions in a concert in Vichy. The critic praises his musical abilities, but does not think much of the composition:

“But about Mr. Miramon, who excels in rendering the most serious difficulties on his instrument, and whose flute leaves and gives way only to the purest sound, without any mixture of breath, I wondered why this artist would prefer to tackle a piece that is only pure marquetry. He calls it fantasy-caprice; my God! I can see that this composition has more to do with warbling than with art or idea; I will pass condemnation on the absence of singing, although this is really the touchstone as well as the pitfall of any good performer. But why this hustle and bustle, these intersecting atoms in music that go on without ever joining? This, it is said, is the merit and the seat of the winning difficulty: difficulty, I agree; but I do not know that music has anything in common with the tour de force of Léonard or Blondin. It charms, that is its role; poetry and music are sisters, and when I see the latter stretching all its muscles to deafen and tire the eardrum, I feel about as much pleasure as when I hear the endless poetic tirade that begins like this: Sarrazin, mon voisin etc. etc. (July 7, 1861 La Gazette)

In December of the same year he performed together with Demersseman.

Charles-Oscar (Carlos) Allard was born in  Tournai/ Belgium on July 6, 1823. He must also have been an exceptionally good student, for he too received a first prize at his first concours in 1839 at the age of 16. Allard was the son of the violinist and later director of the Conservatoire Jean-Delphin Allard. After his studies, Charles went out into the world. He first moves to Madrid. There are contradictory sources about his time in Spain. On the one hand, it is claimed that he was a professor in Barcelona, others write that he joined the entourage of the politician and diplomat (Juan Gonzáles) de la Pezuela in Madrid and acted as the highest-ranking musician of the Infantry Regiment No. 2 of the Iberian Peninsula. In this position he leaves Europe in the spring of 1848 and embarks on a long journey to the Caribbean. In Puerto Rico he offers his services as a flute teacher in the small town of Ponce. From now on he is called Carlos. For the next few years it is quiet around him. Two of his sons are born in 1851 and 1852. Both will later study trombone in Paris. His daughter Maria Los Angeles is born in 1857. In the same year, Carlos appears in the illustrious company of the American pianist Jean Moreau Gottschalk, who at the time is on a concert tour of America with the fourteen-year-old Adelina Patti and her family. Adelina Patti was about to return to Europe at the beginning of 1858, and plays a farewell concert in Puerto Rico together with Gottschalk and Allard, for which Gottschalk composed a Chant des oiseaux for this trio instrumentation. Unfortunately, the score of this work is lost. After the Patti family left the country, Gottschalk and Allard toured South America together for over a year, where they performed together in many concerts despite many impassable events. I have not found much information about the concert programmes. Apart from a grand solo by Tulou (probably the one of his Concours), he certainly played his own compositions, perhaps also works by Gottschalk.

In 1859, Allard returned to Ponce and resumed his activity as a music teacher. In the 1860s, he finally returned to France with his family, where he became director of municipal music (chef de la musique municipale) in Saint-Germain-en-Lay, west of Paris, in 1866 and founded a harmony orchestra. With this harmony orchestra he performed regularly during the concert season in the music pavilion on the Île du Lac, the so-called Kiosque. The concerts often end with fireworks, and free childcare is also provided in the form of a Punch and Judy show not far from the Kiosque. Allard not only conducts but also regularly performs solo pieces on the flute and piccolo. His repertoire includes Variations on Norma, La Traviata, Demersseman’s Fantaisie sur une Mélodie de Chopin, Solo sur des motifs de la Juive, Polka des Forêts (“imitation and very picturesque and successful reproduction of all the noises that arise under the shade of the woods, from the song of the nightingale, the quail and the cuckoo, to the shots of the hunter and the poacher” (14. 7.1866 L’industriel)), and the polka La Grive and Perle de Venise for one and two piccoli respectively. He received various awards with his orchestra. 

A typical concert looked like this: 

1. Allegro militaire … Steenebrugen.
2. Fantaisie sur la Fille du Régiment, Soli par MM. Bedejus et Allard fils. … Donizetti.
3. Fantaisie sur Faust, Soli par MM. Bedejus, Poisot et Rebouche … Gounod.
4. L’oiseau de Paradis, polka Exécuté sur le nouvel instrument l’Ocarina, par l’Auteur. … Carlos Allard.
5. Italiana, grande fantaisie (redemandée), Soli par MM. Clauss, Bédéjus, Poisot, Allard fils et Rebuché … Baudonck.
6. Polka de Concert pour deux pistons, Exécuté par les jeunes Bédéjus et Lucas. … Renard.

Allard was dependent on donations for the realisation of the concerts. He regularly published costs and donations in the local newspaper L’Industriel de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. His name appears almost weekly in this newspaper during the concert season. Concert programmes are announced and concerts reviewed. Unfortunately, the newspaper writer is not particularly detailed in his descriptions. His reviews often do not go far beyond the usual praise. The following two reviews are an exception to this:

„To speak of a flute solo played by Mr. Carlos Allard is to say that he must have carried off the audience; this is what happened to our eminent artist performing on his instrument, a solo by Tulou, his master.“ (L’industriel 7.12.1872)

“Mr. Carlos Allard brings his flute to his lips and suddenly there is a deep silence in the crowd, the listeners suspend their breath for fear of losing a single one of those sweet notes, those pearls that are flowing in a hurry, fleeting, from his instrument, which was inert and silent a minute ago and which now seems to be animated by a divine breath. The effect is prodigious, the applause resounds with frenzy, the enthusiasm is at its height, the public is transported, and our musicians contemplate with joy and pride this conductor who gives them such sweet and honourable satisfaction.” (June 19, 1875 L’Industriel)

Judging by the descriptions, it is quite possible that Allard played the flute.

Allard did not only perform in Saint-Germain, but could also be heard from time to time in Paris, as on 16.4.1875 in the Salle Pleyel, where he played his Norma Fantasy. 

In Saint-Germain Allard taught solfège and various wind instruments three evenings a week, rehearsals with the harmony orchestra took place on Tuesdays and Fridays. As a teacher, he probably demanded a lot from his pupils, as can be read in the 1895 obituary:

“If he was severe and even a little rough in his lessons. He was an artist to the core, and did not understand that music was treated with a casualness that could harm the progress of the society he was directing; but, also, how attached he was to those who responded to his care. He was no longer simply a teacher, but he made himself the father, the friend of his pupil, and if all those who owe him today what they know about music had followed his convoy, the crowd would have been much larger still. But, alas! So many defections! And how many proved that gratitude was too heavy a burden for some shoulders.” (30 November 1895, L’Industriel de Saint-Germain-en-Laye).

In 1882, he had to leave his post as music director because he got into a dispute with the mayor. The latter took offence at the fact that Allard was Belgian. A foreigner conducting the local orchestra with success could not be tolerated! It must not have been easy for Allard, who had founded the harmony orchestra himself 16 years earlier. But it was all to no avail. Allard took his best musicians with him and founded a new orchestra, the Harmonie du Commerce. 

In 1891, Allard was appointed Chef de la Société Philharmonique de Saint-Germain and elected director and president of the association. He not only conducted it but also played the flute in the orchestra. He would hold these posts for four years until he died in 1895 at the age of 72 after a short illness. Many friends, pupils and colleagues attend his funeral, among them Paul Taffanel. 

Jean-Théodore Pilliard was born in Troyes in 1819. He was 20 years old when he won the second price. He became Chef de musique du 3e régiment d’infanterie de marine.

 

 

The five-keyed flute played in this recording was made by the Godfroy aîné workshop. It has the serial number 4004 and was made around 1836. The flute could be called typical French as it owns Eigenschaften that are found in many French flutes of that period: a soft low and shining high octave which plays easily until C4, it is very easy to play fast staccato passages throughout the range. It has a D-foot, and keys for Bb, G#, F (no long F), D# and for the C-trill. Fork fingerings work very well, therefore keys have to be applied almost exclusively for Bb, G#, F of the low octave and the B-C-trill (the F-key should of course be used for the F#s key-fingerings). The Godfroy workshop produced hundreds of instruments per year, however, their flutes are very individual and need an individual approach. Some fingerings work better on the one than on the other, sometimes registers are either fuller or lighter, some are better in tune than the others. Of course, one has to keep in mind that every surviving flute has an individual biography. Some have been played more or held in better conditions than the others, nevertheless all have been made by hand, thus an individuality of each instrument is a logical conclusion.

The piano is a 1854 Pleyel.

1838 – Tulou, 4e Grand Solo

 

In 1838, the competition of the wind instruments receives little attention in the Parisian newspapers. In contrast to the detailed reports on the competitions for singers, pianists and string instruments, for wind instruments only the names of the laureates are mentioned: Alexis Donjon and Louis-Antoine Brunot share the first prize, Jean-Alphonse Mathieu receives a second prize.

Alexis Donjon, born on April 15, 1822 in Lyon, was 16 years old when he won the first price in the 1838 concours. He won a second price for solfège in 1836 as well as a second price for flute. I found only little information about his further career. In 1839 and 1840 he played the Grand Solo by Tulou in a few concerts in Paris and Lyon. Around 1840 he must have returned to Lyon. In 1843 he was employed at the Grand Théâtre in Lyon, just as his father François who was also a flute player. Alexis‘ son Jean-Baptiste-Marie, born in 1839 and today known for his flute compositions, played the flute as well. Alexis died in 1855.

Louis-Antoine Brunot, born on the 16th November 1820 in Lyon, was 16 years old when he won the first price at the 1838 concours. A year later he won the first price. According to Pontécoulant (1840) Brunot abandoned the Boehm flute after having studied it. He adopted it, however, in the early 1850s. Brunot played in the Orchestre du Palais-Royal, and from 1850 on he was first flute at the Opéra Comique. He also played in the Concerts populaire de M. Pasdeloup and in the Cirque d’Hiver. Brunot published a few compositions for flute, of which only a handful is known today: two fantasies about airs of Webers’ opera Oberon (op. 6,19), a fantaisie originale op. 7, he also arranged airs from Oberon for flute. There is a manuscript of an Adagio in the National Library of France (bnf).
In the 1850s he was at the height of his career. In addition to his orchestral work, he often appeared as a soloist. He played, for example, a duo by Léon Magnier with Louis Dorus, flute quartets by Léon Kreutzer with Simon, Élie, Petition (they all most probably played the Boehm flute), trios by Haydn and duets with singers. In Dorus, Brunot found an equal flute partner, as the author of the Menestrel reports on March 6, 1854: “Never had purity of embouchure, taste, expression, agility, overall precision, smoothness in sound emission, reached this degree of perfection: a thunder of applause broke out at the end of this duet, and the two artists were recalled with enthusiasm.”
The performances of his fantaisie on Oberon, which he repeatedly played in concerts, received many positive concert reviews. L’Écho Rochelais wrote on September 6, 1856: “(The) phenomenon of perfection was achieved by M. Brunot on the flute. To appear alone after [oboe player] Triébert and [bassoon player] Jancourt, to struggle with the deep impressions they had produced, to divert to oneself the current of enthusiasm they had aroused, this was certainly a bold undertaking full of perils. Well! M. Brunot was able to accomplish it, and he won a success equal to that of his rivals, where any other than him would have broken on a reef. Mr Brunot is also a very pleasant enchanter! Armed with his Boehm flute, which is to the old flute what the piano of today is to the piano of thirty years ago, he seduces you, he moves you by the limpidity, the purity and the expression of his singing, he lulls you nobly into the undulations of a vaporous, ethereal melody; he dazzles you, he astonishes you by a fascinating agility of fingering. And then, what suppleness of articulation! What roundness and accuracy of tone in all registers! What sharpness in the double tongue without which it becomes impossible to execute the rapid lines in detached notes! With Brunot, all the native imperfections of the instrument disappear, all the difficulties are smoothed out, overcome. In a variation which delighted the audience and which – a rare thing, an exceptional joy – was enthusiastically requested again, the eminent flute player played both the song with a cadence and a trill, to which two cadences and two trills in the octave were added. Explain this prodigious feat to anyone who can.”
The newspaper L’Aube reports on February 6, 1859: “We remember the words of a famous man who asked what is more boring than a flute, and replied that there are two flutes. We like to think, for the man’s sake, that he must have suffered a great deal from some shrill, false or cold flute to articulate such a proposition. But if he had heard the masters of the instrument, if he had, as we did last Friday, heard M. Brunot make his flute sing, sigh, execute with it the most brilliant organ points, observe the most delicate nuances in the harmonic phrase, go up and down his chromatic scales with a desperate neatness of execution, oh, then the blasphemy would have remained in his throat. He would have said to M. Brunot with us and with Virgil: “Pan, himself, the God of the flute, if he challenged you in front of the whole of Arcadia, Pan, himself, in front of the whole of Arcadia, would confess defeat. “Tulou, the modern Pan, would not have disowned our artist in his Variations and in the fantasy on Oberon. The latter piece, in particular, seems to us to have been composed and executed with a masterly hand. M. Brunot’s talent has reconciled many people with the flute.”
Two years later Brunot played the fantasy on a festival in La Rochelle, and the Messager des théâtres et des arts reports on September 9: “The welcome given to the flute player Brunot was all the more sympathetic as he is a child of the Wester regions [?]. He played his fantasy on Oberon’s motifs to great effect. Brunot is correct, classical; he has a good style, which was very well noticed in the ensemble pieces, where the flute parts are so important.”
The fantasy, however, did not meet everyone’s taste, as we read in La Presse théâtrale on December 15 of the same year: “M. Brunot will not blame me if I like his fantasy on Oberon’s motifs much less. This composition certainly has much to commend it; but I have the weakness of preferring to all the fantasies of the world, to all the variations of the virtuosos, the very motives that inspired them. I like Weber better than M. Brunot: it is a matter of taste! However, M. Brunot is a skilful flute player, whom the audience rightly applauded warmly and recalled. The Cirque, once again, proved that it was not favourable to all instruments: the low notes of the flute do not reach the ear, and the fine nuances are completely lost in this vast expanse.”
Nevertheless did Brunot convince his audience with his tasteful: “This artist has drawn from his instrument sounds of inexpressible sweetness; for him, melody has real charms, and he leaves to others the supposedly great difficulties that those who devote themselves to this instrument enjoy. The audience and the orchestra greeted the performer with long and sympathetic bravos.” (Messager 6.3.1864)
From the late 1860s on he appeared less an less in the national press. He continued playing in the orchestra of the Opéra Comique until his death in 1885.

Jean-Alphonse Mathieu, born on May 10, 1820 in Avignon, was 18 years old when he won the second price in the 1838 concours. Mathieu did not leave many traces. In 1847 he played a concert in Lyon. The Courrier de Lyon notes: “One of the most pleasant surprises of the evening was the fantaisie-caprice, for flute and piano, composed and performed by M. Mathieu. We already knew this artist, and the audience often applauded him as a distinguished flautist. The fantasia-caprice to which we allude has, moreover, shown him to be a skilful and learned composer. In this work, one of the most important and complete ever written for this instrument, M. Mathieu has used some of the sweetest melodies of Félicien Davis’ Symphony ‘Le Désert’ [a peculiar work and worth it to listen to!]. But the introduction and conclusion belong entirely to our compatriot, who has combined the merit of melodic originality with the talent of the arranger. Moreover, in this composition, where the most brilliant part is reserved for the flute, the piano accompaniment is of almost equal importance. To add that this piece was performed by M. Mathieu and by M. Joseph Luigini, is to say that it was rendered with all the charm and perfection of which it is susceptible.” Unfortunately, I did not find a copy of the fantasia-caprice. In 1853 Mathieu played a concert in Vichy. A critic wrote: “The flute solo, composed and played by M. Mathieu, was full of melody and was listened to in silent ecstasy”. In 1867 his name appears in a concert in Grenoble. Mathieu died in 1890 in Nimes.
Mathieu must have composed several works as the fantasy on the Desert symphony is his op. 6. Emil Prill mentions in his catalogue a Grand Solo op. 2, and the National Library of France lists a Grande Valse du Czar par Sigismond Artschkof, (impromptu de concert) variée pour la flûte and La Fauvette captive, caprice-valse, pour flûte avec acc. de piano, op. 19.

In this video I play a flute by the Berlin workshop Grießling & Schlott. I included it in the project because it is a fine example of how ideas and designs originating in France cross borders. On this flute, we find several indications of the influence of French key design.
The curved G-sharp key is typical for French flutes, even though it probably originated in Great Britain, as Cahusac was already making such keys in the 18th century.

The pillar mounting of the keys is also typically French. It has been used in France since the beginning of the 19th century, while most German flute makers stuck to the wooden blocks.
Another feature is the C-foot. A C-foot is needed for the 4th Grand Solo as it contains the only low C sharp of all concours works! This very special key design probably originated from François Laurent, famous for his exclusive crystal glass flutes. The first beginnings of this design can be found as early as around 1815. The Dutch flute player Louis Drouët, who was living in Paris at the time, adopted the idea for his flutes, which he had made in London from 1817 to 1819. A few years later, the design is found on Berlin flutes.

left: C-foot by Drouët (DCM 0347 © Washington Library of Congress, right: Grießling & Schlott)

In addition to the special arrangement of the shanks and keys, the curved shape of the flaps with their high pads is also striking. These “elastic pads” also made a journey through Europe. It began around 1809 in Paris with the clarinettist Iwan Müller. He developed new pads for his new clarinet in the form of a woolen filled ball or purse made of leather, whose upper edge was folded and tightly sewn. These pads had the advantage of making little noise and closing very well. Drouët seemed to have liked these pads, for they are found on most of his flutes. In 1818, the Clementi workshop in London also adopted these pads for their flutes. Finally, around 1822, they ended up at Grießling & Schlott in Berlin.
Two other features suggest a French model: The D-E trill key has two tone holes. When this key is opened, the C trill key opens as well. This system is often found on flutes from the Godfroy workshop.

Grießling & Schlott D-E trill key, C-trill key and bent G# key

Finally, in addition to the usual keys, the Grießling & Schlott has a relatively rare F# key. An F# key makes us immediately think of Tulou who is known for this key. However, the key design is different, as it is operated with the little finger of the left hand and is connected to the long F key. This also opens when the F-sharp key is pressed. F-sharp keys already appeared in England in the early 19th century, so they were not invented by Tulou. The arrangement and design of the key by Grießling & Schlott is very similar to the design of some Godfroy flutes. The F# key touch of both flute models has a roller so that it can be used more easily.

Grießling & Schlott F# key with a roller

It is very likely that Grießling & Schlott took one of these flutes as a model.
The high number of keys is very untypical for French instruments, but nevertheless there have been some enthusiasts. Despite all the similarities, the sound of the Grießling & Schlott is quite German, that is, not so fine in the two lower octaves and not radiant in the third octave. On the contrary, it has a warm tone, a full depth and a fine high register, which seemed to correspond more to the German sound ideal of the time.

The piano is a 1854 Pleyel.