Flute Teaching   -   The French School of Flute Playing  -  "La seconda scuola pratica"




Paul Taffanel (1844-1908)




Adolphe Hennebains as "Pan"
in Paul Taffanel's garden


"Le son de flûte est la poésie de Pan " - Paul Taffanel

For thousands of years the sound of the flute has fascinated man, and the instrument can probably be regarded as one of the oldest.

The modern Boehm flute covers 3 octaves, and the beauty and flexibility of the sound, together with its capacity of modulation can in many ways be compared to the human voice - in other words the flute gives a unique possibility of singing on the instrument. The music must have transparency, be plastic and transcendent.

For the one who wants to learn the art of flute playing, the teaching starts with a great wish to get to know the instrument in detail. Each generation of musicians carries their tradition and passes on their experiences with great pleasure.

Famous Bach Cantata with Peter Ustinov "Oh, dear God do not be angry" , The goal is not to reproduce, but create expressions in music - to interpret it.

The Essence of the French School of Flute Playing is refind -
"La Belle Époque"

A flute is not a trumpet - it must sound beautiful, as it is - a flute and no more. What is a beautiful sound is not just about strength, high sound etc., but modulation of sound and harmonics. Read more… Jean-Pierre Rampal.

Quality of the sound, richness in overtones, a pure tone and an exquisite technique - that is the French sound e.g. Gaston Crunelle, Georges Laurent  

It Is a flute technique with taste and culture, respect for the nature of the instrument and of course for the music. This naturally includes breathing, blowing, resonance and bell tones, tone quality and focus, tone colors and modulation, flexibility in lips, singing tone, lagato playing, tone attack and staccato, a controlled and tasteful vibrato, precise fingering and correct hand position. This is just to mention some of the most important things in the French tradition besides how to practice and how to judge a composition - be patient, things take time - "Listen slowly and thoughtfully" Marcel Moyse


Most importantly - have fun and enjoy life!

   Claude-Achille Debussy has made a recording on the German Welte-Mignon piano"Clair De Lune"   
   Bell tones on piano: "Vaghezza, chiarezza, e buona modulazione" 
   Flute Technique: See literature on flute technique and performance practise.

Holger Gilbert Jespersen about the flute tone  - "It is like a virgin and you will not rape it"

Since the early 1900 century flute playing in Denmark has had a French connection with Holger Gilbert Jespersen, who brought the French tradition of flute playing to Denmark to his students and to coming generations of flute players. His flute playing was lyric and characterized by a elegant tasteful style with a bright and light tone in the treble and a mellow full tone in the deep register. He was known for his incredibly rapid staccato and singing legato. At the end of this page you can read about him and hear samples.

I teach everybody who is interested in the instrument, and over the years I have had students from many different nations.
To make an arrangement concerning teaching  - please see: contact


A Danish Flutist - Holger Gilbert Jespersen

From my teacher, Verner Nicolet, who studied with principal flutist at the Royal Opera Orchestra, Holger Gilbert Jespersen (1890-1975), I have heard much about Gilbert's fantastic flute playing. I have a couple of records by him, among others his recording of Carl Nielsen's Flute Concerto with a quite wonderful and imaginative flute playing, which is completely unsurpassed in its expression and power. Below you can read a couple of statements by Gilbert Jespersen himself, which give a fine idea of the artist's education and work as a musician e.g. in Paris where he studied with both Hennebains and Gaubert.

Holger Gilbert Jespersen, flute:

Decca LP' Carl Nielsen Flute Concerto april 1954
 ♪ Allegro moderato    11:17  
 Allegretto, un poco   7:24

    HMV, 78' from may 1938, Bach; Trio sonata BWV 1038
Largo - Vivace   Adagio - Presto  8:56

    HMV, LP' from June 1959. Händel: Hallenser Sonata No. 2

 ♪ Largo
- Allegro - Sarabande - Menuet  6:23

Interviews from 1926-1950

I started at the Royal Academy of Music studying with the then principal flutist of the Royal Orchestra Fr. Storm. He was a wonderful person and an excellent musician, and he taught me the love of France, the homeland of flute playing, where I soon continued to study. I began to study with Hennebains and played as a substitute in the Paris Opera Orchestra. Later I went to France again, and this time I studied with Gaubert, who became one of my best friends. When my former teacher Storm left the Royal Orchestra in 1927, I took over his seat, and at the same time I started teaching at the Royal Academy of Music where later I became a professor.

In fact I am so old that I have played together with Saint-Saëns, who was born in 1835. He was en excellent musician, a stately gentleman to look at, and a highly skilled interpreter of the baroque music. He was a marvellous pianist and a great player of Bach. He always wore a cloak like Danilo in "The Merry Widow" and a high hat. Then - it was in 1913/14 - I studied in Paris, and each time I had practised a piece with my teacher, Hennebains, he said, "Now you had better try to play it together with the composer." In that way I came in contact with several French composers. - Everything was so easy then. I substituted for my teacher both at the Academy of Music in Pa
ris and in the orchestra of the Grand Opera.

I got a lot of work in Paris thanks to my teacher Philippe Gaubert, who is a conductor of the orchestra at the Grand Opera and a famous flute virtuoso. Gaubert was often hindered at the concerts where his name was on the programme because he had to conduct at the opera or teach at the academy of music - and then he sent me instead. Thereby I got to know many people in the world of music and got quite a few engagements. However, I will not be stuck in Paris for ever even though it is probably the city in the world where music, everything considered, is in its strongest position now, and where my instrument, the flute, is especially played with love and solicitude. I think it is connected with the sense of style of the French and their enormous tradition and respect for what dates back from ancient time.

On Flute Playing

I am just a humble servant for the music, which is a divine art. When I play, I feel a plastic insight in the music and an urge to express the composer's intention without any personal vanity. The one who expresses something must stand aside in favour of the creative person. The flute is a flexible instrument which can easily merge from one feeling into the other. I am more fond of my flute now than ever before, it has become more valuable to me. I will not just allow my fingers to fly up and down the flute tube - I want to make performances with insight and deep artistic feeling.

Holger Gilbert Jespersen, flute:

Telemann Concerto d mol
  HMV, 78' from may 1938
Grétry Trio b mol               HMV, LP' from may 1950

Holger Gilbert Jespersen
, Louis Lot flûte

From a Review

There has been a time when the flute as a solo instrument almost became silent. But Gilbert Jespersen owns a magic flute which in this country and probably also in other places can make the interest come fully alive again. Especially on the deep notes his tone is unusually soft and full, and in the various registers it has a capacity of modulation which is developed with virtuosity.

Historical Recordings of French Flutists - musicians from "La Belle Époque"

On the below links to mp3-files you can hear 3 famous French flutists' flute playing in recordings on Edison rolls from before 1900 and on 78" records with recordings from before 1940.

Adolphe Hennebains:

Pastorale Hongroise, Doppler.mp3 Minute Waltz, Chopin.mp3
Romance, Pesaard.mp3 Allegretto, Godard.mp3

Philippe Gaubert:

Air de Ballet, Saint-Saence.mp3 Madrigal, Gaubert.mp3
Nocturne, Chopin.mp3

Marcel Moyse:

Sapho. O- Magli, Massenet.mp3 Syrinx, Debussy.mp3
Andante Pastral et Scherzettino, P.Taffanel.mp3

Fantasie Melancolique, Reichart.mp.3

Historical recordings with fluteplayers

About - Pitch, recordings and flutes
Pitch, recording and flutes is an interesting matter.

Video: Marcel Moyse on the sound of the flute  
"I observed long ago that a beautiful tone comes from a generosity of the heart" - Marcel Moyse.

Photos: Marcel Moyse Couesnon Flute

"I prefer a simple tube without a built-in tone. Then I can put into it what I want" - Marcel Moyse.


Philippe Gaubert


Adolphe Hennebains


Verner Nicolet


Holger Gilbert Jespersen


From the first performance of Carl Nielsen's  Flute  Concerto in  Paris  in  1926 with Holger Gilbert Jespersen as soloist with Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Paris. Marcel Moyse was principal flutist in the Orchestra at that time.

Société des Concerts du Conservatoire
Reviews - French and Danish newspaper

Carl Nielsen's Flute Concerto  Allegro moderato
Carl Nielsen's Flute Concerto  Allegretto, un poco 

Holger Gilbert Jespersen, Flute (Louis Lot)
the Danish National Orchestre, LP 1954





Gilbert Jespersen

Thomas Edison (1847-1931)
Early phonograph 1877

'The Dog Nipper Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph' (1899). Nipper was a rescue dog found in Bristol.

The Flute Player and His Dog  0:36

Francis Barraud  (1856-1924) painted 24
replicas of his original, as commissioned
by the gramophone company HMV.

 Sturkas, Marco & Sophy