The literature of the French flute school, 1800-1880 : style characteristics, sociological influences, and pedagogical applications
The years from 1800 to 1880 produced a distinct and identifiable body of flute literature representative of the Napoleonic age in France and also the Romantic period as a whole. The changing role of the flutist exhibited in this vocally-based literature can be traced to effects from the development of the Boehm system and to certain nineteenth-century sociological changes in France. Compositions from this school also reflect the emerging status of the flutist as solo virtuoso.The literature of the French flute school represents a hybrid form of instrumental virtuosity and extremely expressive melodies which holds a unique place in flute literature. Nevertheless, its use appears to be decreasing steadily, probably due to differing opinion about the questionable musical value of this body of music. The present study was therefore devised to identify idiosyncratic characteristics of the literature, and to examine possible pedagogical applications in light of these characteristics.Six composers were chosen who were flutist-virtuosi from 1800-1880: Tulou, Boehm, Altes, Genin, Demersseman and Andersen. Biographical information was included to enlarge the sociological picture of the flutists' status as Romantic virtuosi, and to aid in the presentation of various descriptions of the expressive role of the new flute.One composition by each composer was selected for analysis. Where possible, actual Conservatory Exam pieces were chosen. A pool of recurrent common characteristics emerged which are clearly related to the sociological framework of nineteenth-century France. Finally, the isolated elements were examined for possible pedagogical benefits.