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The 'French Flute School'

The pupils of Claude-Paul Taffanel at the Paris Conservatoire had a strong influence on flute-playing in early-20th-century Europe and America where many of them held prominent orchestral and teaching positions and made some of the first recordings of classical repertoire.

This so-called French Flute School used metal flutes of the modified Boehm system by Louis Lot and others, and a playing style that featured a light tone and vibrato. It stood in contrast to the mostly wooden instruments German and English flutists played with a strong and steady sound.

By the 1930s recordings had introduced the French sound to people all over Europe and America. Euorpean flute-making was in decline, while American makers, led by the William S. Haynes Co. of Boston, were building copies of Louis Lot-style Boehm flutes. When the English firm of Rudall, Carte & Co. closed after World War 2, the Lot-style metal flute became the only type in regular production all over the world. At the same time the school band movement gave almost all children the chance to learn a wind instrument.

These are the main reasons why this French-influenced instrument and playing style became the basis of a new American-dominated International Style after c1970.

Chapter 11, 'The French Flute School', of Ardal Powell's The Flute (Yale University Press, 2002) contains more information on this topic.

Claude Dorgeuille's The French Flute School, 1860-1950 is now permanently out of print.

Other national styles

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