The “Stamitz” caprices for solo flute

By Tom Moore


Unlike much of the flute repertoire of the eighteenth century, of which much has been published in the last forty years in facsimile editions, and more recently shared as pdfs of scans from original editions, the set of eight pieces attributed to Anton Stamitz and published as unaccompanied solos has become part of the core flute repertoire on the strength of two modern editions which say nothing about the sources they draw on. These are the publications by Breitkopf & Härtel titled Rondo capriccioso, G-dur and Capriccio-Sonata, A-dur, für Flöte solo, both issued in 1956, and the 8 Capricen für Flöte (Edition Peters, 8197; H. Litolff 30760 ), issued in 1974. The set of eight has received at least three complete recordings – by Laurel Zucker ( Cantilena, 66042-2, 2008), byPal Nemeth (Hungaroton HCD31924, 2000) and by Zdeněk Bruderhans, Arbitrium (1993), as well as four more recordings of the complete A major sonata, by Mirjam Nastasi (Ars Produktion, ARS38102, date?), by Magda Schwerzmann ( H.-A. Baum, H. Rosenfeld, 2003), by Hansgeorg Schmeiser, (Nimbus NI 5522, 1997) and Hans-Martin Linde, (SCGLX 73 816, 198?), the last on LP, the others all on CD.

To my knowledge, the sole eighteenth century source in which these works are grouped together and attributed to Anton Stamitz is the publication held at the National Library in Paris, France, and now digitized as part of the Library’s Gallica program ( . The catalog record for this item gives Anton Stamitz as author, but in fact the title page does not cite him. The title reads:

Caprices de flute en forme d’étude par les meilleurs maîtres français et étrangers, oeuvre [2e], and the collection is published by M. Baillon, who was active publishing in the mid-1780s, so the date given by the catalog of 1785 seems correct.

Page 1 (the verso of the title page) is the only one on which Stamitz’s name appears, thus: “Caprices de Flutes par Antoine Stamitz ordinaires de la Chapelle du Roy”. Page 4 bears the note “Caprice de Flûte en forme de Sonate”,  page 6 “Caprice de Flutte en forme de Sonnate”, page 8 “Caprice de Flutte”, and page 9 “Caprice de Flutte en forme de Sonate”. Finally pages 10-11 present a “Caprice de Flute par Mr. L***”.

It is not implausible that this collection should be credited to Anton Stamitz, who, although not a flutist himself, produced a flute concerto, flute duets and other chamber music including the flute. However, the haphazard nature of the collection (eight is an unusual number for a set of anything musical in the eighteenth century, and while the three pieces in A make a satisfying sonata, the remaining works (one in D, the rest all in G) clearly do not.

It is satisfying then, to be able to securely situate four of these with another composer, far less well-known today – Joseph Tacet. Tacet was evidently French (he played at the Concerts Spirituel in Paris in 1751), but spent most of his career in London, where he first appeared in 1755, and is documented in England until 1780[i]. Tacet, a flutist, published two collections of “Italian, French and English favorite airs and minuets with variations” arranged for two flute, violins or guitars (self-published, 1762, 1766), a tutor for the flute (Cahusac, 1766), a set of six solos for flute or violin with continuo (self-published, 1767), and a set of six divertimenti (three for two flutes, three for flute and continuo, self-published, 1769). The last two were republished in Paris by Le Sieur le Marchand in the early 1770s.

The table following shows the correspondence between the modern editions, the Baillon edition of 1785, and the Tacet sonatas for flute and continuo ( ark:/12148/btv1b9081583t).

No. 1 = No. 8, Baillon ed.      G major, Allegro moderato
= Tacet, op. 1, Sonata VI, 1

No. 2 = No. 1, Baillon ed.      D major, no tempo indication

No. 3= No. 2, Baillon ed.       G major, Rondeau, no tempo indication

No. 4= No. 5, Baillon ed.       A major, Allegro moderato
= Tacet, op. 1, Sonata IV, 1

No. 5= No. 6, Baillon ed.       A minor, Amoroso
= Tacet, op. 1, Sonata IV, 2

No. 6= No. 7, Baillon ed.       A major, Rondeau
= Tacet, op. 1, Sonata IV, 3
omits 2nde couplet found in Tacet

No. 7= No. 3, Baillon ed.       G major, Allegro Spiritoso

No. 8 = No. 4, Baillon ed.      G major, Allemande


The Baillon edition includes an entire sonata from Tacet’s op. 1 (the no. 4 in A), although without the continuo line, and omitting the second couplet from the final movement. The source of the other four movements remains open to question, though perhaps they might still be found in other contemporary collections of music for flute and continuo. It seems more likely that they would be from another flutist-composer rather than by Anton Stamitz. Tacet’s music is fluent and accomplished. It is not surprising that it has been successful under Stamitz’s name. It is time for flutists to look into the rest of Tacet’s admittedly small production.

Six solos for a German-flute or violin, with a thorough bass for the harpsichord or violoncello. London, Printed and sold by the author. [1767]

Six Sonates pour Flute ou Violon Avec la Basse Chiffrée

Dédiées A sa Majesté la Reine d’Angleterre. Composée par Joseph Tacet.

Oeuvre Ier. Gravée par Mme. Lobray. Paris, Chez le Sieur le Marchand, Cloître St. Thomas du Louvre.  [1771]

BNF, Konink. Bib, The Hague


[i] Highfill, Philip,  A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers & Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800, Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, p. 360. 

Published on with permission from Prof. Dr. Tom Moore

About Prof. Dr. Tom Moore

Tom Moore holds degrees in music from Harvard and Stanford and studied traverso with Sandra Miller. From 2004 to 2007, he was visiting professor of music at the University of Rio de Janeiro (UniRio), where he co-directed the early music ensemble, Camerata Quantz. He has recorded with Kim Reighley and Mélomanie for Lyrichord (USA) and with Le Triomphe de l’Amour for Lyrichord and A Casa Discos (Brazil). Mr. Moore writes about music for,, 21st Century Music,  Opera Today, Flute Talk, Flutist Quarterly, and other journals. He has also sung professionally with the Symphonic Chorus of Rio de Janeiro and Concert Royal and Pomerium Musices of New York. He is presently head of the Sound and Image Department of the Green Library of Florida International University, Miami, FL. 

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John L. Downe, flutist and composer

Perhaps the earliest known professional flutist to have been active in the new American republic was John L. Downe. I have been able to determine his place of birth (or death), but the earliest notices of Downe (who is almost always referred to simply by his initials, J.L.) place him in Boston, Massachusetts. The first reference to Downe that I have located is the announcement for his music school, opened in collaboration with Edward “Ned” Kendall, who was known for his performances on both the Kent bugle[1] and the clarinet. Kendall’s work with band was notable enough to still be remembered almost a century later[2].


The Boston Post reports:

INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC ACADEMY. E. KENDALL & J. L. DOWNE most respectfully   inform their friends and the Musical public generally, that they intend immediately opening a School for the instruction, practice and |perfection of the following instruments, viz: Clarionet, Bugle, Violin, Flute, Violincello, and most other instruments now in use. They cannot but flatter themselves with the hope that from the approbation bestowed upon their several performances, and the high testimonials heretofore received, not only that such an institution will he well patronized, but that they will be enabled to give general satisfaction. Application made, and terms known at their Academy No. 190, Washington-Street, directly opposite the Marlboro Hotel[3].


The Post also provides the earliest concert notice for Downe, from October 1832 (since it is described as his annual concert, there may well have been prior iterations).

….. OF VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC, At the Masonic Temple, this evening, Oct. 20th. MR. J. L. DOWNE has the honor most respectfully to announce, that his Annual Concert will take place THIS EVENING, at the Masonic Temple, when he will be accompanied by the eminent Orchestra of the Tremont Theatre[4], under the direction of Mr. Comer[5]—on which occasion MRS ADAMS has kindly consented to appear, and also several gentlemen of acknowledged vocal talent. Mr. Hansen has likewise generously volunteered to assist. Principal Vocalist, Miss Adams. Leader and Director, Mr. T. Comer.


  1. Overture. – Auber
  2. Song—Deep deep Sea, Mrs. Adams. C. E. Hum
  3. Air, with new Variations—Flute. Mr. Downe. Bucher
  4. Solo—Bassoon. Mr. Pearce, first time in four years. Schaffer.
  5. Song and Trio; The Sicilian Boatman. Mozart.
  6. Song—Away my gallant page away. Mrs. Adams
  7. Mr. Gear will (by particular request) perform Handel’s celebrated piece of music, called, The Harmonious Blacksmith, with additional Variations for the Contra Basso and Full Orchestra, Gear.


  1. Overture; Fra Diavolo. Auber.
  2. Solo—Flute. Master Pearce, 9 years of age, pupil of Mr. Downe.
  3. Glee—Three Voices.
  4. Song—Auld Joe Nicholson’s Nannie. Mrs. Adams. T. Comer[6] .


Downe performed at the concert of the Boston Academy of Music in early May of 1835, with Kendall once again present on bugle and clarinet, as well as participating in the American premiere of soprano Miss Estcourt Wells.

The Boston Academy of Music. —The choir of this institution gave a performance on the 13th of May, in the Bowdoin-Street church. A considerable portion of Neukomm’s new oratorio, David, was performed. Mr. E. Kendall gave a concert at the Boylston-hall, on Saturday, the 18th of April. Solos were performed on the Kent bugle by Mr. E. Kendall, flute by Mr. J. L. Downe, clarionet by Mr. Kendall, violin by J. Holloway, besides songs from the principal singers mentioned in the previous concert, and instrumental pieces by the Boston military brass band. Miss Watson gave a concert of sacred music on Tuesday, April the 14th at Amory-hall. On this occasion, Mrs. Watson (late Miss Wells) made her first appearance before an American audience. The principal vocal performers were Miss Watson, Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Andrews, and Mr. Comer. Instrumental solo performers—flute, Mr. Downe; clarionet, Mr. Kendall; trumpet, Mr. Armore; piano-forte, Mr. Watson. Leader, Mr. Ostinelli. The selection of music embraced several favourite pieces from Handel, Haydn, Spohr, Webbe, Comer, &c[7].

Downe made his first appearance in New York City in 1835, at a grand concert for U.C. (Ureli Corelli) Hill. Hill had been the conductor of the New York Sacred Music Society, established in 1823, and would go on to be the first conductor of the New York Philharmonic.

GRAND FAREWELL CONCERT. Mr. U.C. HILL, has the honour to inform his friends and the public, that he will give a concert on Tuesday evening, May 26th, under the kind and fostering patronage of the New York Sacred Music and Musical Fund Societies, prior to his departure for Europe. Solely, the love of his art, and of the fine arts of his country, with the advice and concurrence of his musical acquaintance, induces him to run this hazard which he has anticipated for years. He trusts that on this occasion he may have a cheerful parting. He has the pleasure to announce the following Eminent Talent, which he hopes will fully meet the approbation of his friends, and merit public patronage.

VOCAL PERFORMERS. MISS WATSON, MRS. C. HORN. Jun. MR. C. HORN, Jun. INSTRUMENTAL SOLO PERFORMERS. MISS STERLING, MR. C.E.HORN, on the Piano forte. MR. J. L. DOWNE, Flute, (his first appearance in New York.) MR. HILL, on the Violin. Conductor, Mr. C. E. Horn, who will preside at the Piano forte. Leader of the Orchestra, Mr. U.C. Hill.


  1. Overture,
  2. National Song ” The Fall of Niagara,” Mr. C. Horn, Jun. composed expressly for him. The Words by the late H. Clinch. Esq. C. E. Horn
  3. Air and Variation Violin Mr. U.C. Hill. C. De Beriot
  4. Ballad – Miss Watson “That Heavenly Voice.
  5. Robin Adair, with Variations for flute. John L. Downe.
  6. Song. Those Tinckling Bells, Mr. C. Horn, Winter Drouet A. Lee a. .
  7. 7 Overture, Rossini
  8. 8 Cavatina. Miss Watson Idole de ma vie, from Robert le Diable, Mayerbeer
  9. Grand Variations Piano Forte Miss Sterling “Ma Fanchette est Charmante.” First time in four years, H. Hertz
  10. Ballad, by desire Mr. C. Horn Nor all his pride of Kildare, Parry
  11. Duetto Mr. and Mrs. C. Horn – Loves sweetest flower, C. E. Horn
  12. Polonaise Violin Mr. Hill. P. Pechatscheck[8]
  13. Ballad (By particular desire) Miss Watson By the Margin of fair Zurich’s waters, arranged from a German melody, by Mr. Watson.
  14. Solo Octave Flute. The Nightingale J. L. Downe.

The only source I have found that verifies Downe’s first name is Stimpson’s Boston Directory, published in 1836, where he appears as John L. Downe, musician, Pleasant Street Court, on page 146. The address still exists in 2017, and is located in Charlestown, down the hill from the Bunker Hill Monument.  This allows us to locate him in the 1840 census in New York City.

Probably the most detailed descriptions of Downe’s performances are those found in the Musical Review (based in New York). A brief note from Jan. 1838 records that Downe performed “with skill” the variations by Drouet on Robin Adair at the annual concert of the Euterpeian Society[9].

May 1838 brings a lengthy review of a benefit concert for Downe.

Mr. Downe’s Concert. —First, let us express our sincere sorrow and regret, that the talents of so promising an artist, as the above-mentioned gentleman, should have met with, on Friday evening last, so paltry and pitiful reward. It is truly disheartening when we view efforts, the cost of which is years of laborious study, treated, we may say, so inhospitably, compared with the disgusting rubbish that is sometimes perpetrated within the walls of the City Hotel. The “bill of fare” prepared by Mr. Downe, was a rich and highly classical treat. It ought to have been better supported; but of this subject more anon. Mrs. Morley is a passable concert room vocalist—nothing more. Mrs. Watson cannot sing “Let the bright Seraphim:” Her John Anderson was pretty fair. Her best song, composed by Balfe, (which, by the by Malibran never sang,) was by far the best effort—it received an encore—though the composition in itself merits no favor. The words “Shall we go a sailing,” reminds us of an anecdote of poor Weber, who, on hearing Braham sing “The Bay of Biscay,” innocently inquired, at the close of the song, “What is dat Biscay Of”. Little Miss Taylor possesses a good voice for one so young, but her tutor, whoever he may be, should not thrust her into the actual torturing of such a Cavatina as Di Piacer. Morley’s voice was never in better order, or his intonation more pure than on the present occasion; he is evidently improving. Spohr’s magnificent Duet, from Faust, Callcott’s Tempest, and Dr. Arne’s “Now Phoebus setteth inthe west,” from Comus, were all admirably given. Of the last Duet, Con pazzienza, it is scarcely fair to speak, in consequence of Mrs. Morley having been encored in Rory O’More, the piece preceding: that lady seemed too much exhausted to do it justice. Mr. Munson’s song could easily have been dispensed with. How the instrumental performers managed to get through their portion of the night’s entertainment, we are at a loss to guess—the Piano being more than a quarter tone above pitch. Downe played beautifully, so did Christian; but both were evidently much distressed, owing to the above circumstance. The Grand Duet—concertante—Piano-forte and Violin, by Messrs. King and Hughes, composed by Herz and Lafont, was received with the greatest enthusiasm by the audience, more particularly the enchanting violin of Mr. Hughes. This Duet was one of the most agreeable pieces of the evening. Mr. Kendall, on the Harp—it would have been more edifying, had the Harp been on Mr. Kendall. King requires a little softening down; but he is a good player for all that. Mr. Mason’s Trumpet Obligato was too loud—for which, perhaps, we ought to blame the Piano. We can only once more express our chagrin, at the bad taste of the public, in not crowding the room, and conclude by wishing Mr. Downe at his next Concert, all the success he so richly deserves.

This concert was evidently a financial failure, for there is considerable discussion of the matter later in this journal, and Downe’s concert is included in a list of events that were losses for the producers[10].

The writer of a letter to the Musical Review describes a performance including Downe (date and place unclear):

….I now come to the solo of Mr. Downe, on the Flute, the Air “Le Petit Tambour,” with brilliant variations, which was played in a most masterly manner. This gentleman, with wonderful execution, combines a sweetness and expression which has never been equalled in this country. ….. Mr. Downe introduced a novelty in the Art of Flute Playing, being a Solo on the embouchure or top joint of his Flute, a performance never before attempted by anyone but himself; it was wonderful and at the same time very pleasing. The Waltz was composed by himself for this occasion.

The waltz described must certainly be among the waltzes by Downe for solo flute which were published by Firth and Hall in 1841, and are now in the collection of the Library of Congress.

Finally, the January 5 number of the Review describes the benefit for pianist William Scharfenberg (1819-1895), who had not yet turned twenty at the time, and was making his American debut.


This concert, which took place at the “Apollo Saloon,” was highly creditable to the enterprise and taste of the young artiste who gave it. The corps consisted of Rappetti, Downe, Boucher, Scharfenberg, solo performers—Miss Alldridge, vocalist—and a select band. Such a combination of talent engaged in one concert, is, in this country, a rare thing. We were only in time to hear the last four pieces, – a solo on the flute by Mr. Downe, a song by Miss Alldridge, a violin solo by Signor Rappetti, and the finale on the piano-forte by Mr. Scharfenberg. Mr. Downe did not play well as we have before heard him. He is an exquisite performer—the best, we believe, in the country. He gave us on this occasion something quite new—a variation in harmonics; sounds that, for acuteness of pitch, would vie with those produced by Paganini on the 15th leger line. Mr. Downe can play the flute in its legitimate style, with great purity of tone, expression, and execution; he can also, if circumstances require it, equal any one in novelties to excite the astonishment of those whom genuine music fails to please. We perceive that he is to play at Mr. King’s concert with only the upper joint of his flute. We have been both astonished and pleased with a performance of this sort by him, yet we are more pleased when his instrument is complete.

Downe had evidently moved to New York at some point during the 1830s, since he is included among those enumerated in the 1840 census in New York (he is listed as being between thirty and forty years of age, as is his wife, and has no fewer than five children – four daughters, and one son)[11].

By the 1840s, Downe had published his set of waltzes (registered at the New York copyright office Downe is notable enough to undertake a voyage to England, where he played in a benefit for Madame Gradini on Dec. 17, 1844. The former Miss Margaretta Graddon had appeared in works by Weber in London in the 1820s.

Princess’s Concert Room. —A concert occurred here on Tuesday evening, the interest of which was the first public appearance of Mad. Gradini (late Miss Graddon) since her return from America, where she has resided eight years. As Miss Graddon, the lady enjoyed a high and deserved celebrity in England, and she appears to have met with universal success in the various parts of America which she has visited. Her voice has not in any way lost its volume or its beauty, and her style of singing is as energetic and graceful as of yore. Mad. Gradini indulged her audience with two Italian cavatinas, a ballad by John Barnett, and a Tyrolienne in which she accompanied herself on the guitar. In all of these her reception was most warm and gratifying, and must have pleased the fair vocalist, who, no doubt, will resume her ancient popularity with little diminution. There were many other attractions worth notice, but we have only space to mention a fantasia on the Nicholson flute, played with admirable neatness and great taste by Mr. Downe (also from America)—a charmingly graceful duet by H. Brinley Richards, delightfully sung by the Misses Williams—some excellent singing by Machin, two concertina fantasias well executed by young Blagrove —unmistakable encores for drolleries no less unmistakable by John Parry, and last, not least, a fantasia on the pianoforte by Mr. J. Cohan, which produced a great effect and was loud and generally applauded[12].

Downe is back in London once more by 1847, when he gave a concert under his own name at Blagrove’s Rooms. He is now identified at the first flute of the Italian Opera in New Orleans.

On the same evening, Mr. J. L. Downe, first flautist of the Italian Opera at New Orleans, gave a concert at Blagrove’s Rooms, in Mortimer-street, with Mrs. A. Gibbs, Mrs. J. Roe, Messrs. Allen and Collins, Mr. Weeks, and Signor Furtado, for singers. The instrumental soloists were Signor Casolani (contrabasso), Messrs. Hancock, W. F. Reed, and Guest (violoncelli), Mr. Dean (clarinet), Mr. Nicholson (oboe), and Mr. Downe (flute). Mr. C. Blagrove was the accompanist.

Surviving works:

A Set of Waltzes for the Flute Dedicated to the Amateurs of New York by J.L. Downe. New York: Firth and Hall.

Library of Congress.


Copyright deposit, dated Feb. 19, 1841.

Ten individual works for unaccompanied flute. No. 6 is a Gallop.

Love’s Ritornella.

No place of publication or publisher. Theme with two variations, for unaccompanied flute.  Held in a bound collection at Oberlin.



[1] A keyed bugle patented by Joseph Halliday in 1811.

[2] Chamber of Commerce Journal of Maine, Volume 22, p. 191 (1909):

In 1829, the Rifle Corps, then under the command of Captain Solomon H. Mudge, having procured a new and handsome uniform, and wanting extra music for their anniversary, sent to Boston and engaged four pieces, a part of Kendall’s Band. Ned Kendall, the famous bugler came himself, accompanied by a trombone, French horn and cornet and these with Poland, Johnson and Foye, gave the music for the occasion. No such stirring martial music had ever before been heard on the streets of Portland.

A year later, 1830, the New England Guards, the Crack Rifle Company of Boston, under the command of Jouathon G. Chapman, afterwards Mayor of that city, came here on a visit to the Rifle Corps, bringing with them the celebrated Brigade band of eighteen pieces, Edward Kendall, leader. This was a great occasion and excited much interest in regard to martial music and lead to the organization in 1832 of the Portland band.

[3] Boston Post, December 13, 1831 (the same announcement also published on Nov. 28, and on Dec. 27, 1831)

[4] The Tremont Theater had been built in 1827 at 88 Tremont Theater. It was purchased by Baptists in 1843, and became the Tremont Temple. After many fires, the original structure was replaced by the building that still stands at the stie.

[5] Tom Comer, 1790-1862. Born in England, he arrived in Boston in 1827.

[6] Boston Post, October 20, 1832

[7] The Musical Library, no. 21, December 1835, p. 23,

[8] The opus 18 by František Martin Pecháček, 1793-1840.

[9] The Musical Review, vol. 1-2, 1838-1839, p. 8,

[10] ibid, p. 293.


[12] The Musical World, vol. 19, 1844, p. 415


Published on with permission from Prof. Dr. Tom Moore

About Prof. Dr. Tom Moore

Tom Moore holds degrees in music from Harvard and Stanford and studied traverso with Sandra Miller. From 2004 to 2007, he was visiting professor of music at the University of Rio de Janeiro (UniRio), where he co-directed the early music ensemble, Camerata Quantz. He has recorded with Kim Reighley and Mélomanie for Lyrichord (USA) and with Le Triomphe de l’Amour for Lyrichord and A Casa Discos (Brazil). Mr. Moore writes about music for,, 21st Century Music,  Opera Today, Flute Talk, Flutist Quarterly, and other journals. He has also sung professionally with the Symphonic Chorus of Rio de Janeiro and Concert Royal and Pomerium Musices of New York. He is presently head of the Sound and Image Department of the Green Library of Florida International University, Miami, FL. 


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Auguste Vern – Flutist and Composer

By Tom Moore

We are lucky to have an extensive obituary for the flutist and composer Auguste Vern, who is well-represented in the printed editions from this lifetime, but, since he was from the provinces, and after his education in Paris, returned to work in the provinces, appeared relatively little in the Parisian press, and to my knowledge, does not appear in any of the musical encyclopedias of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

My translation of the obituary follows.

Obituary[i] of
Auguste Vern,
Composer of Music,
By Vergnaud-Romagnesi,
Member of the Society of Antiquaries of France, and of various Literary, Scientific, Agricultural and Philharmonic Societies in France and Abroad.

The dean of composers of instrumental music in France, and the dean of teachers of music in Orléans, M. Claude-Josephe-Auguste VERN, passed away in his 85th year, on May 18, 1854, in Orléans.

Born at Thoissay, near Macon, in 1669 [sic], he was taken at a young age to Lyon, where his parents had properties. Intended by his parents for a military career (artillery), his studies were directed to that end, and soon the siege of Lyon (1793) came to put his courage (which never failed) to the test, no more so than his principles, devoted to a wise freedom free from all excess. In the number of the vanquished after the fall of Lyon, and destined to be shot, he happily escaped the horrible massacre by throwing himself to the ground at the moment the command of “Fire!” was given, but he was wounded in the head by the grapeshot, which did not prevent him from dragging himself through the dead and dying, making his way to the Rhone, which he swam across, and making his way to Italy.

           He then took service in the same regiment with the young Bonaparte. He later was attaché to the unfortunate Maréchal Brune, for whom his brother was secretary.

           Frank and loyal in character, but a little brusque, and having become taciturn after the events marking his painful life, tormented first by the peril that he had gone through with the burning of his properties in Lyon, and then by considerable disappointments, he nonetheless maintained an inviolable attachment to this friends, an inexhaustible sympathy for his peers, and a rare disinterestedness taken to the extreme.

           But the least injustice, the least departure from good behavior exasperated him. It is thus that, seeing himself in the army as the victim of a free ride, he brusquely broke off his military career in order to devote himself entirely to the study of music, which he had, until then, although with success, only pursued in his moments of leisure.

           On returning to France and after having been applauded as flutist and oboist at the theatre of La Scala, Milan, and at that of Lyon, he came to Paris with well-founded hopes for his success, in the capital, in obtaining a place as professor at the Conservatory. It happened otherwise.

           Discouraged by this unjust lack of success, he was called on by some amateurs in Orléans to come and be heard there. Soon students were asking for him, and facilities given for publicizing his compositions by a distinguished composer-publisher musician, Sébastien Démar. The success of his first works surpassed his expectations, and he decided to settle in Orléans, seeking a little business for his estimable spouse, while he occupied the place of flute and oboe in the Orléans orchestra, then very complete. The loss of his wife came to sadden his life, and paralyze a business that an artist was scarcely appropriate to carry on.

Eighteen collections for flute and for oboe published in succession, and numerous students had brought him an honest ease that his great heart made him compromise many times.

Until the age of eighty-two he continued to hold the position of flute and oboe at the orchestra of the theater with distinction. But finally his strength could not match his persevering courage, and he had nothing more than the highly estimable recognition of people he had once obliged, and the affection of his students who competed with each other, up until his last moment, in disguising, in various ways, the aid due to his great age, and to the general feeling of estimation and affection that everyone felt for him.

His students cherished him in spite of the strictness of his teaching, the result of his zeal in teaching his art well. The musicians who were his contemporaries gave resounding praise to his talent and the progress he had brought to the flute, in marching with a new and more assured pace in the path opened by those like Devienne and Hugot.

His compositions are in general severe, with an elevated taste, and the melodies that one often finds there are full of grace and sweetness. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and lastly Reicha, were his favorite authors. Scarcely had Reicha published his immortal quintets for winds [Paris, 1817-1820], but Vern dared to propose and perform them in the provinces. The flute was given to M. Marcueyz, his student, he himself played the oboe, M. Louis played the clarinet, an excellent teacher and hornist, M. Vaillant, played that part, the bassoon was played with more zeal than talent by the author of this notice, and we owed to the musical intelligence of M. Vern an execution satisfying even for the performers of Paris, of these difficult works. There were frequent musical reunions at the house of M. Vern, and they contributed to training the numerous amateurs who still remember those fine days for instrumental music for winds in Orléans.

Toward the end of his career, M. Vern had composed some remarkable duos or songs for two English horns (voce humana[ii]). These melodies have remained unpublished along with other manuscripts that he himself destroyed with hunting fanfares for two horns.

But he left unpublished a set of oboe duos that he esteemed considerably.

The works of M. Vern are:

  1. Three duos for oboes, dedicated to M. Rime-Beaulieu.
  2. Three duos for oboes, dedicated to M. Montbarron.
  3. An opera burned in Lyon.
  4. Three quartets burned in Lyon.
  5. Six duos for flute, dedicated to Maréchal Brune.
  6. Six duos for flute, dedicated to M. de Moypia, jr.
  7. Six duos for flute, dedicated to the same.
  8. Three duos dedicated to his brother.  (This set, to which a publisher added three oboe duos arranged for flute, was arranged by M. Vern himself for two oboes and dedicated to M. Demadières-Miron[iii].
  9. Three duos for flute, dedicated to Tulou.
  10. Three duos for flute, dedicated to Vanderlick[iv].
  11. A nocturne for harp and flute, dedicated to Mlle. Démar.
  12. A theme varié for flute, dedicated to M. C. Cayot and S. Maiffredy, of Marseille.
  13. A theme varié, dedicated to M. Warbuton.
  14. Four duos for flute, dedicated to M. Marcueyz.
  15. Twelve unpublished melodies for English horn, dedicated to M. J. Ruzé.
  16. Twelve unpublished melodies for English horn, dedicated to M. Vergnaud-Romagnési.
  17. A romance, Le Preux, words by M. Vergnaud-Romagnési.
  18. A unpublished set of duos for oboes.

Numbers in this list evidently correspond to opus numbers for Vern’s published works, opp. 1-14.  Op. 3-4, given as burned in Lyon, do not survive. Nos. 15, 16, and 18 were evidently never published. No. 17 may have been published, but does not survive.


Surviving works by Vern:

Aarhus: Aarhus University Library
BNF: National Library, Paris
BL: British Library, London

3 Duos concertants pour deux hautbois, op. 1. Paris, Imbault.
=no. 1 in above list?


3 Duos concertants pour deux hautbois, op. 2. Paris, B. Pollet.
=no. 2 in above list?

Trois duos concertans pour deux hautbois composés et dédiés à son ami Charles Louis de Montbarbon… par Auguste Vern opéra 2.d. Paris, Benoît Pollet.
Mediathèques de Montpellier

3 Duos concertants pour deux clarinettes, extrait de l’oeuvre 2e des duos de hautbois, arrangés par Charles Bochsa Père. Orléans, Demar.

Six duos concertans pour deux flûtes … Œuv. 5. [Parts.]. Orléans, Chez Demar.

Duo concertant No. I-II: Op 5,1-2. Augsbourg, Gompart et Comp.
= no. 5 in above list?


6 Duos concertants pour deux flûtes, op. 6. Paris, B. Pollet.
=no. 6 in above list?

Six duos concertans pour deux flûtes, divisés en deux parties, op. VI. Paris, Melle. Demar.
University of Michigan

Six Duos concertans pour deux Flûtes. Paris.

Duo concertant pour deux flutes oeuvre 6 no. II / composés par Auguste Vern. Augsbourg : Gombert, [ca. 1810] Pl. no.: 517 –

-republished Cornetto-Verlag, c2001


6 Duos concertants pour deux flutes, op. 7. Paris, Imbault.
=no. 7 in above list?

Six duos concertants pour deux flûtes … opéra 7, [1re.-2e.] partie. A Paris, Chez Imbault.
University of Michigan

Six Duos concertants pour deux Flûtes. Op. 7. Paris.
University of Michigan

Three duetts for two flutes, op. 7, bk. 1. London, Monzani & Hill.
University of Iowa, BL

3 Duos concertants pour deux flûtes op. 8. Paris, Imbault.
=no. 8 in above list?

Trois duos concertans pour deux flûtes … oeuvre 8. A Paris, Chez Imbault.
University of Michigan, Royal Library, The Hague

Trois duo concertans pour deux flûtes, oeuvre 8, 2e. partie. Paris, Janet et Cotelle.
Central Library, Zürich


3 Duos (grands) concertants pour deux flûtes, op. 9. Paris, Janet et Cotelle.
BNF, Central Library, Zürich
=no. 9 in above list?

Trois grands duos concertans: Op 9. (S.l.)

Trois grands duos concertans pour deux flûtes oeuvre 9. Mayence, Schott.
University Library Carl von Ossietzky, Royal Library, The Hague

3 Duos (grands) concertants pour deux flûtes, op. 10. Paris, Janet et Cotelle.
=no. 10 in above list?

Trois grands duos concertans: Op 10. Bonn, Berlin, Hamburg, London, N. Simrock.
Arhus, Royal Library, The Hague, SLUB Dresden
=no. 10 in above list?


Thème varié pour flûte principale avec acc. de 2 violons alto, basse, 2 cors et hautbois, ou piano à défaut d’orchestre. Op. 12. Paris, Gannal.
BNF, Oberlin College
=no. 12 in above list?

Thème varié pour la flûte avec accompagnement de basse où de forte-piano, op. 13
Oberlin College

4 grands duos concertans pour deux flutes. Oeuv. 14. Paris, A. Cotelle.
University of Michigan

3 Duos concertans (sic ?) pour deux clarinettes. Paris, Imbault.


3 Sonates concertantes pour 2 hautbois composés… par Auguste Vern. Paris, Imbault.


6 Duos concertants pour deux flûtes, divisés en deux parties. Paris, Benoist Pollet.

Six grand duos concertans pour deux flûtes, etc. Liv. 2. Berlin.

3 Duos concertans pour deux flûtes. Paris, Imbault.

Trois grands duos concertans pour deux flûtes. Paris, Janet et Cotelle.
University of Michigan

Nocturne en harmonie… par Auguste Vern. Paris, Melle T. Demar.
= No. 11 from the list in the Obituary?

Nocturne en harmonie: for flute, 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons : with optional 2 oboes or clarinets, contra-bassoon, trumpet and trombone. Lancaster, Phylloscopus Publications.

Variations concertantes sur la cavatine (di tanti palpite) de Rossini, arrangées pour harpe et flûte. Paris, Demar.


[ii] The vox humana is described in some detail in Geoffrey Burgess, The Oboe, Yale University Press, 2004, p. 99. It was a “straight tenor in F in two parts (the centre joint and bell were unseparated”.

[iii] Demadières-Miron was the director of the Musée d’Orléans, and chevalier de la Légion-d’ Honneur. Died Feb. 4, 1852.

[iv] i.e., Johann Georg Wunderlich, 1775-1819, professor of flute at the Conservatory in Paris.

Published on with permission from Prof. Dr. Tom Moore

About Prof. Dr. Tom Moore

Tom Moore holds degrees in music from Harvard and Stanford and studied traverso with Sandra Miller. From 2004 to 2007, he was visiting professor of music at the University of Rio de Janeiro (UniRio), where he co-directed the early music ensemble, Camerata Quantz. He has recorded with Kim Reighley and Mélomanie for Lyrichord (USA) and with Le Triomphe de l’Amour for Lyrichord and A Casa Discos (Brazil). Mr. Moore writes about music for,, 21st Century Music,  Opera Today, Flute Talk, Flutist Quarterly, and other journals. He has also sung professionally with the Symphonic Chorus of Rio de Janeiro and Concert Royal and Pomerium Musices of New York. He is presently head of the Sound and Image Department of the Green Library of Florida International University, Miami, FL. 

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Sally Walker – An Interview

Elena Kats-Chernin’s new flute concerto Night and Now is the result of a long friendship and collaboration with flautist Sally Walker. Sally will be premiering the concerto on Saturday 24 October with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Matthew Wood.

Angus McPherson spoke to Sally Walker. (Excerpts from Elena Kats-Chernin’s program note for Night and Now are in italics.)


When did you know Elena was writing you a concerto?

The idea of writing me a concerto stemmed naturally from our many other collaborations; it had been talked about for some years but crystallised once Elena was awarded the Australia Council Fellowship in late 2014, which also meant a confirmation of a timeline of events. She then began writing furiously and by January played me her idea for the first movement (on piano, from which she composes).

Photo: Steven Goodbee Publicity.

Sally & elena

How did the collaboration between you and Elena work?

Our collaboration process is very easy. It always begins with a lot of talking and a lot of laughing in a session at her place around the piano – trying things out. As we are both very itinerant, we are emailing mostly thereafter, with occasional phone calls. If we are in the same city at the same time, of course we try to meet, but the contact is very constant in the written form. Sometimes I will send her a sound file (like yesterday, so she could hear the recording of the first tutti rehearsal).

Sally often hears sketches of my work as I’m writing them and she has great insight into my processes. When Sally and I began to think about what a major work for flute and orchestra would sound like, we discussed all of these qualities and how to showcase the flute as a solo instrument and emphasise its unique sound and capabilities. Sally’s sound is full bodied. It isn’t a little flute which flies away – it has earth. That is Sally…how she is, very earthy and elf‐like at the same time. That’s what flute is, the way Sally plays it.

We began with talking about what the piece should be. I said that I would like a work of depth and seriousness, which has beautiful melodies and embodies her knowledge of unusual harmonies. I especially wanted some darkness (so many flute concertos have the ‘brilliante’ aspect of the flute, but I think our low register is very stirring). In 2006, Elena wrote her flute and piano version of Blue Silence for me and it became my favourite of all her works. She needed some persuading that the slowness of the music was convincing; she is more comfortable writing very busy music. When it was broadcast by the ABC on a show called For Matthew and Others, she received enormous praise for this contemplative work. I had wanted that work to be a starting point for the concerto. Consequently, the concerto starts on a low E, in a minor key and very slowly. “Night”.

The timbre and sonorities of the flute itself offer much variation to the composer. It can be brilliant, shrill and scurrying, or whispering and mellow. The flute can draw sharp or soft lines. It can be rich, or mystical, or virtuosic, penetrate a full sound or sigh into the texture.

I wanted her somehow to document her childhood in Russia, with all its extremes, its suffering and its wonder.

It is a Concerto in three movements and takes aspects of the Russian personality and character as its starting point, as well as aspects of the flute itself. It draws very much on my own experiences as a child of that world, both aurally and from day to day life. Until I was 17, that was everything that I knew. One of my overriding memories of childhood in Russia is of lining up for hours and hours for one loaf of bread or piece of cheese, and the perseverance and sometimes ultimate disappointment that had to be faced when food just ran out.


Being familiar with Elena and her music, did you have any preconceptions about the piece? Were there any surprises?

I was delighted to hear a reference to J.S. Bach in the fugue-ish second movement. I half-jokingly suggested a ‘Latigo’ (an Argentine Tango technique) in the second movement and then I saw she put it in the score! – both for violin (which is typical) and then for piccolo (not typical, but effective).


What has been the most challenging thing about preparing Night and Now?

That I premiere this in three days and we are still making changes. I love to play from memory, but I think that may be a little too risky!


How would you describe the overall sound of the work?

Colourful, from the foreboding to the sublime. It is a transformation, really, from the darkest of darks to exuberant triumph (with abundant percussion). A Lament, a Fugue and a Tarantella.

Sally also suggested to me that I might use stories from my early years in Russia, or from my own life as a template to the overall design of the composition. And so I did. The first movement is based on two imagined Russian fairy tales; one taking place deep in the woods – always a place of foreboding and unease (for this writer), but also promise and adventure and transformation. The other is in a silvery castle, impressively elaborate and bejewelled. Two very different “nights”.


What is your favourite moment in the music?

The first, certainly. For its intensity and colour. Low register flute, low strings and Tubular bells is an eerie, other-worldly sound.


Are there different challenges when preparing and performing a work written for you by a friend?

Somehow it feels like a higher responsibility, even though I have been integrally involved in the whole writing process. You want everybody to be happy with the final result. Luckily I love the piece – imagine where would it leave a friendship if someone writes you a concerto and you don’t like it!


How do you see this work fitting into the wider canon of flute concertos?

It is perhaps more focussed upon melody than virtuosity (although there are a couple of awkward acrobatic moments). We had specifically wanted a piece that many people could enjoy playing, so its level of technical difficulty is not as high as other concertos. Also, we discussed the idea of making the concerto for multiple flutes, but I thought that would limit how many people would play it and so it is for C flute only.

Although it is an ‘Australian Flute Concerto’, it is very much bound with Elena’s cultural background as a Russian Jew, so there are elements of Russian music certainly, hints of Klezmer and, of course, Bach.


Are there any plans for further tours?

It will be performed with the Zelman Symphony, conducted by Mark Shiell, in Melbourne on December fifth, with the Newcastle Youth Orchestra in September next year and the Queensland Youth Symphony the year after. Some overseas orchestras have approached us too; it would be really special to take this work to different countries.


UPDATE Monday 2 November 2015

ALL of the team at FTA extend our most heartfelt congratulations to both Elena and Sally and of course the Darwin Symphony Orchestra on an incredibly successful world premier of “Night and Now” which received a standing ovation!

Please find below some stunning photos of the World Premier courtesy of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra

image4 image3 image2 image1

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What is the ‘midi flute’ and it’s function?


Regarding the Pierre Boulez: “…explosante-fixe…” a work for MIDI flute solo, live electronics, and chamber ensemble. Does anyone know about this ‘midi flute’ and it’s function. Is it some type of electronica or another instrument?”


It seems to be a flute combined with a fingering detection system. There is a clearer description here:


Got anything to add?  Please feel free to post your input regarding the above question in the comments field below.

All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

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Why did Joachim Anderson write the 8 performance pieces for flute and piano (Op.55)?

The following question was received from a curious Australian flutist…

“The wonderful flautist Joachim Anderson wrote a set of 8 performance pieces for flute and piano (No.6 Scherzino seems to be the most well known) and I’m wondering if anyone knows ‘why’ he wrote this particular set. A commission? A competition? Perhaps it was simply because he enjoyed writing for flute, but I’m curious if there was another motive. Thoughts?”


Here are the responses we received via our network.  Please feel free to add input via the comment’s section below.

“The 8 Performance Pieces for Flute and Piano, Op.55 were published in 1894 by Zimmermann Leipzig. That means Andersen lived at that time in Copenhagen, because of a desease of his tongue he was not able to play flute anymore.

Kyle Dzapo, the American flute player, has written a book about Andersen: Joachim Andersen : a bio-bibliography / Kyle J. Dzapo ; foreword by Walfrid Kujala. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.

A short excerpt can be found on: item_code=8.572277&catNum=572277&filetype=About%20this%20Recording&language=English

She writes about contact of Andersen with Paul Taffanel around the 1890th, so it could have been with him in mind that Andersen composed opus 55.   I have also read that Marcel Moyse has played for him (year?).” Mia



“With regard to Andersen’s Op. 55: Andersen composed these pieces as he was making a difficult transition from his career in Berlin, as founding solo flutist of the Berlin Philharmonic, to a fresh start back in his native Copenhagen. Health problems forced him to terminate his flute performance career and resign his position with the Philharmonic in April 1893 after nearly a year-and-a-half of decreasing performances. The Op. 55 collection was published by Zimmermann in 1894 as Andersen was trying to earn money and establish himself as a conductor in his native city. Unlike most of his works, he offered no dedication for this collection. While he played many of his earlier compositions in Berlin (and created some of them for performances with the Philharmonic where he was a very popular soloist), he was no longer performing when he composed Op. 55. He was no doubt pleased when several of his students performed them at venues in Copenhagen around the turn of the century.

As to competition pieces: Only Andersen’s Deuxième Morceau de Concert, Op. 61, was composed specifically as a competition piece. It was commissioned by Paul Taffanel in 1895 and used as the Paris Conservatory’s concours piece in 1897. (Due to some miscommunication between Taffanel and Andersen, Concertstück, Op. 3, written many years earlier, was selected for the 1895 concours.) I am currently working with Zimmermann toward a new edition of Concertstück, Op. 3. It is planned for release later this year.” Kyle Dzapo


All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

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