Monday, June 2, 2008

Paul Taffanel

Yesterday, during the intermission at the McMichael Gallery, someone asked where the name Taffanel came from. Many years ago, over ten, when the group was first formed, the problem of a name came up. It is not always easy coming up with a catchy name. We were a quintet at the time and exploring the music of the Taffanel Quintet. We tossed around a number of ideas and finally settled upon the name Taffanel. As you will discover while reading his biography, the name is quite fitting since he was a strong proponent of chamber music.

Claude-Paul Taffanel (1844-1908)

Paul Taffanel is usually considered the founder of the French Flute School that became dominant in mid-20th century western Europe and America. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Louis Dorus, who introduced the Boehm flute there, graduating in 1860. For the next 30 years he pursued a brilliant career as a soloist and as an orchestral player, as one of a group of French musicians who made strenuous efforts to develop a national musical style.
When Taffanel became Professor of Flute at the Conservatoire in 1893 he revised the institute's repertoire and teaching methods, reintroducing works by foreign composers and by those of earlier generations, including Bach. Taffanel's pupils learned to play in a new, smoother style that included a light and carefully-modulated vibrato.
Taffanel began work on a history of the flute and a method book, both of which were completed after his death by his pupils Louis Fleury and Philippe Gaubert.

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