The flute may not look complicated, yet it is one of the best sounding musical instruments you would ever listen to. It is also a beautiful instrument to play, and as an aspiring musician, you would find playing the flute with many advantages. Around the globe, thousands of musicians have mastered the use of the flute. Nevertheless, not many flutists were exceptional flutists.
The most famous ones, however, usually employ specific techniques that distinguish them from other flutists. Moreover, some flutists have become renowned as prolific recording artists. Yet, despite the many flutists worldwide, only a small percentage of them have made a name for themselves.
The Ten World-Renowned Flute Players
If you want to master the flute, it will be useful to be cognizant of the world-famous flutists who had made the flute very popular. You can get inspiration from these great flutists who have thrived in mastering and playing the flute. Below is a list of the famous flute legends in the world:
1) James Galway
If ever a discussion on the most outstanding flutists ensues, you will often hear the name of James Galway. James Galway was born to Irish parents on the 8th of December, 1939. He is a virtuoso flutist referred to as The Man with the Golden Flute. He established a name for himself in the international scene as a solo player.
His career as a flutist is replete with awards like the Classic Brit Awards and many others. He also played with the major orchestras of London. Moreover, he played as a soloist together with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Galway is a talented flutist who could play the flute to perfection and produce clear sound and faultless intonation using his breath-taking technique. As a musician, he had inspired countless other musicians.
He had performed in the presence of royalties and presidents and was knighted in 2001. At present, he devotes his time, imparting his music knowledge and talents to aspiring musicians. He got 98 recordings under his name. Moreover, he has tried different music genres while extensively performing the classics and doing film soundtracks. He is also the president of the global charitable organization, Flutewise, which focuses on supporting flute players.
2) Marcel Moyse
Marcel Moyse was born in St. Amour, France, on May 17, 1889, and is considered one of the most outstanding flutists of our time. He enrolled at the Paris Conservatory and became a student of Philippe Gaubert, Paul Taffanel, and Adolphe Hennebains, who were also flute virtuosos during their heydays. Moyse played at age 14 in an orchestra led or conducted by Rimsky-Korsakov. He toured the United States of America when he was 24 years of age with Nellie Melba, an Australian soprano.
Aside from playing with various orchestras, Moyse was also seen as a soloist. Moreover, he made many recordings, and he distinguished himself with his trademark tone that is flexible, penetrating, and clear, moderated by his fast vibrato, typical of French flute-playing style.
Moyse also became a Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal’s faculty. He was also the Marlboro Music School’s founder. His primary teaching principle is to teach students how to make music and not only to learn how to play the flute. He was also the mentor of James Galway and other distinguished flutists. Moyse is also an author of many flute studies.
By 1936, Moyse was already on top of his career as a musician. He also became a Legion of Honour’s Chevalier for his contributions to music. Besides, he traveled widely and performed in many European cities. His later years were troubled with many medical problems that needed operations and frequent hospitalizations. His death on November 1, 1984, marked the end of an era in flute playing.
3) Sharon Bezaly
Another famous flutist is Sharon Bezaly, who was born in Israel, but at present, she resides in Sweden. Bezaly debuted at the early age of 13 with Zubin Mehta along with the Israel Philharmonic. Later, BBC Radio named her one of the three New Generation Artists. Bezaly was undoubtedly a child prodigy and, soon after, she embarked on a successful solo career.
Sharon has appeared with famous symphonies and chamber orchestras in China, Japan, Western and Central Europe, North and South America, England, Scandinavia, and Australia, performing in various venues worldwide. Her flute was fashioned out by Muramatsu Flutes and is made of 24-carat gold.
Sharon Bezaly is one of the living flutists with the most significant number of concertos dedicated to her. Moreover, she collaborated extensively with her record label to produce dozens of excellent repertoire and recordings. Bezaly is described as God’s gift to the flute by The Times.
4) Gareth Davies
Gareth Davies belongs to the best flute players, and at a very young age of 23, he auditioned for and was appointed the principal flutist of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. However, he transferred to London Symphony Orchestra, wherein he stayed playing until now.
Davies took his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. On the south coast, he engaged in recording Nielsen concerto together with the orchestra. He got invited in 2000 as the Principal Flute of the London Symphony Orchestra, and during his time at London, he also recorded with conductors like Gergiev, Previn, Sir Colin Davis, Jansons, Boulez, and Rostropovich. You can listen to Karl Jenkins’ concerto recording, which is written specifically for him, and this recording is available on EMI.
Gareth, aside from recording, is also an in-demand teacher. He also worked as a writer and presenter, and often writes for BBC Music magazine and LSO. He also works as a flute professor in his spare time at the Royal College of Music.
5) Jean-Pierre Louis Rampal
Jean-Pierre Louis Rampal was born in Marseille. His father is Joseph Rampal, who was also a flutist. Jean-Pierre Louis Rampal garnered great raves as a soloist, comparable to those enjoyed by famous pianists, singers, and violinists. Rampal has an imposing stature as a big man who wields enormous power over a very slim instrument like the flute.
His initial success as a soloist paved the way for succeeding superstar flutists like Galway and Pahud. His flute-playing style is typified by bright and sonorous elegance, amplified by his rich palette of fantastic and subtle tone colors. He thrilled his audiences with his dashing and lightly articulated virtuosity. His natural vibrato likewise changes according to the music’s emotions.
You will also notice Rampal’s upper register and broad dynamic range. Moreover, he is notable for the crispiness and lightness of his staccato articulation.
Rampal collaborated with many artists, though committed to Baroque music, he extended his research into the Romantic and Classical eras. He was also well-known to be the very first modern international flute virtuoso.
6) Emmanuel Pahud
Emmanuel Pahud was born in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 27, 1970. He is based in Berlin and is known for his classical and baroque flute repertoire. Pahud wasn’t born to a musical family. Yet, as a young boy who lived in Italy, he got fascinated with the flute.
He was tutored at an early age up to 22 by Francois Binet, Aurèle Nicolet, and Carlos Bruneel. Moreover, he was trained classically at the Conservatoire de Paris, and he made himself known internationally when he made a solo music scene with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
His versatility and music styles made him a new master flautist. His indefatigable approach to performing and his innovative way of playing the flute cemented his stature as one of the most significant flautists of our time.
7) Katherine Bryan
Katherine Bryan was born in 1982. As a British flautist, she got appointed the Principal Flute in Spring 2003 of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra at the tender age of 21. Bryan studied at Manchester’s Chetham’s School of Music.
She won the Audi Young Musician competition in 1997. She was also BBC TV Young Musician’s finalist in 1998, 2000, and 2002 and she also garnered many other awards.
At present, she goes on performing around the UK and internationally. Aside from performing, Bryan is also a lecturer and runs her course Scottish Masterclass. In 2015, Bryan released her album Silver Bow.
8) Matt Molloy
Matt Molloy was born in Ireland on January 12, 1947. At a young age, he started playing the flute, and won at the age of 19 the All-Ireland Flute Championship. Molloy is celebrated as one of the most exceptional Irish musicians of his time. His style adapts piping techniques to his flute, and this style influenced present-day flute players in Ireland.
Molloy was a Bothy Band member and joined in 1979 the Chieftains. Of course, Molloy is best remembered for his distinctive piping techniques characterized by energetic and vibrant tone and colors.
9) Jeanne Baxtresser
Jeanne Baxtresser was born on August 2, 1947, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. As an American flutist, she is noted for her being a principal flutist of the Philharmonic of New York for 15 years. She was only nine when she first made her mind to play the flute. She also worked as a master teacher and professor in many well-known universities.
She featured as a soloist along with the New York Philharmonic. Moreover, she made several chamber and solo music recordings.
Baxtresser is known for being an exceptionally talented flutist. Nevertheless, she is also a very influential mentor. She is also a prolific writer and also recorded CD. Her work is now a standard for those who are studying flute. Besides, she is well-known for her pioneering the in-depth study of flute parts in most orchestral repertoires.
10) Georges Barrère
Georges Barrère was not born to a musical family, although his father had wished to be a tenor instead of being a carpenter. However, Barrère was instrumental in shaping the public perception of flutists. He is acclaimed as an outstanding flutist. Moreover, he revolutionized how the flute is played with his magnificent works.
At the age of fourteen, he was accepted at the Conservatoire. He improved himself under the tutelage of Taffanel. In 1895, he won the Concours’ first prize. At the age of 17, Barrère began taking freelance works and also played at the orchestra. After his studies, he organized the Société moderne d’instruments à vent, a woodwind organization that offered concerts and orchestral concerts.
He also became an instructor in Montparnasse’s College Stanislas, where he taught for seven years. He was also made a flutist for the Concerts Colonne, which toured Europe. In 1905. he went to the United States and played for the New York Symphony Orchestra.
He would play there for the remaining of his life. He also founded the Barrère Ensemble of Wind Instruments (1910) and the Little Symphony chamber orchestra (1915).
The flute is widely accepted and used as both a solo instrument and an orchestral instrument. Moreover, the repertoire for flute is varied and vast. You would also quickly hear the flute melodies because of the flute’s high register and timbre. The flute may look diminutive compared to other huge instruments. Yet, its size makes it a favorite of many, and it is frequently taught in many schools. As such, thousands of students learn to play this instrument.
Nevertheless, the famous names mentioned above learned how to play the flute and excelled in playing it. Thus, if you intend to study the flute, it will help to be cognizant of their works and achievements.