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ClassicsOnline Home » HOTTETERRE: Music for Flute, Vol. 1 - Premiere livre de pieces
Jacques Hotteterre (1673-1763)
Premier livre de Pièces
pour la Flûte traversière
(First Book of Pieces for the Transverse Flute)
Jacques Hotteterre, called le Romain, is
one of the most illustrious figures in the history of the transverse flute. At
the same time a distinguished performer, an enlightened teacher and a
recognised composer, he brought to the Baroque flute full respectability
through his Livres de pièces (Books of Pieces), L 'Art de Prélude (The
Art of the Prelude) and his Principes de la Flûte (Principles of the
Flute). There are various confusions relating to Jacques Hotteterre, to whom
the invention of the three-section Baroque flute is often wrongly attributed,
whereas he was only its populariser.
Member of a great family of instrument-makers
originating from Couture-Boussey in Normandy, Hotteterre was born in Paris on
29th September 1673. His father, Martin (1648-1712), was then a well known
master instrument-maker, inventor of the little chalumeau on the musette and
very probably the creator of the first German flutes in three sections, used
from 1681 in Lully's orchestra.
Jacques Hotteterre and his brother Jean,
known as the Elder (? - 1720) had a good training and both learned the art of
instrument-making. While the latter seems to have succeeded his father as a
maker, the former preferred the ceremony of the court to the friendly
atmosphere of the workshop. He followed his father as Grand Hautbois du Roi, a
position that opened the way for him to the privileged royal musical establishment,
the Chambre du Roi. From 1797 he began his musical career as a composer and
teacher. It was in this year that he published his well known treatise Principes
de la flûte traversière-ou d'Allemagne, de la flûte à bec ou flûte douce
et du hautbois (Principles of the Transverse or German Flute, of the
Recorder or Flauto Dolce and of the Oboe), which was re-issued many times up to
1765 and was translated into Flemish and even pirated in English.
In 1708 Hotteterre had published by
Christophe Ballard his collection Pièces pour la flûte traversière et autres
instruments avec la basse continue (Pieces for Transverse Flute and Other
Instruments with Basso Continuo), announcing himself as Flûte de la Chambre
du Roy (Flautist of the Royal Chamber), dedicating the work to the King.
The preface is particularly eloquent:
TO THE KING, Sire, the favourable
attention that YOUR MAJESTY has deigned to bestow on me since I had the honour
of playing these Pieces in your presence has today inspired my boldness in
presenting them to you. What happier success could I wish for them than that of
filling some of those moments when the greatest King of the world wishes to
escape from his glorious occupations. It is an advantage, SIRE, for which I am
uniquely obliged to the extreme kindness of YOUR MAJESTY and it is to mark my
very humble recognition of this that I take the liberty of dedicating to you
these Pieces, flattering myself that my tribute will not be rejected, nor the
protestation that I make of being all my life with zealous ardour and the
deepest respect, SIRE, YOUR MAJESTY's very humble, very obedient and very
faithful Servant and Subject HOTTETERRE.
The success was doubtless immediate, but
better to understand the reason it is necessary to place the work in its musical
The first collection published for
flutes, straight and transverse, was that of Marin Marais, in 1692, Pièces
en trio pour les flûtes, violon et dessus de viole (Trio Pieces for Flutes,
Violin and Treble Viol). Two years later, Michel de la Barre, also a musician
of the Chambre du Roy, presented his Pièces en trio pour les violons, flûtes
et hautbois (Trio Pieces for Violins, Flutes and Oboes) to the public, who
seemed to appreciate them, as the Dutch edition in 1696, by Roger in Amsterdam,
bears witness, and another French edition, again by Ballard, in 1707. A second
collection of Pièces en trio was published in 1700 and enjoyed the same
success as the first.
It was not until 1702 that there appeared
a collection of Pièces pour la flûte traversière et la basse continue (Pieces
for the Transverse Flute and Basso Continuo), again by Michel de la Barre,
which marked the beginning of a style of writing specifically for a
treble instrument and basso continuo.
When in 1708 the collection of Pièces
pour la flûte traversière (Pieces for the Transverse Flute) of Jacques
Hotteterre was published, flautists only had for their repertoire the suites by
de La Barre. Their style, very similar, much inspired by the music of Lully,
has a touch of the Italian, as the gigues L'ltalienne and La
Pérousine show. Was this as the result of a journey to Rome? There is no
document to support the suggestion that Hotteterre went to Italy, except his
nickname Le Romain (The Roman), that he perhaps had to assume to avoid
confusion with other members of his family, or, very simply, because he
appreciated, more than others, Italian music, as the arrangements he made in
1721 of sonatas by Torelli and Valentino show.
This first collection won public favour,
since a second edition, issued this time by Foucault, appeared in 1715. There
is virtually no difference between the two editions except for the change of
method of reproduction (the 1708 edition is printed and that of 1715 engraved):
1. No piece is added or omitted,
Hotteterre has simply grouped his pieces into five suites (Foucault edition) instead of
three (Ballard edition), which shows perhaps that the pieces of 1708 were
interchangeable or a re-organization of the suite between the editions.
2. The composer has written a bass for
the two pieces for two transverse flutes, Les Délices ou Le Fargis and
the Rondeau le Champêtre.
3. A number of ornaments have been added
in the second version of the collection, as the composer mentions: "augmented
with several ornaments and a demonstration of the manner in which they are to
An introduction in both editions that is
extremely valuable for anyone who wants to restore as accurately as possible
French music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, is placed at the
beginning. It contains precise remarks on a number of points. The first
concerns the use of different instruments:
“Although these Pieces were composed for
the Transverse Flute, they are nevertheless suitable for all Instruments that
play the Treble, such as the Recorder, the Oboe, the Violin, the Treble Viol
This is usual, except for the
“Some can even be played on the keyboard
as Pieces, that is to say the Treble in one hand and the Bass in the other.”
Further on in the preface Hotteterre shows how
to play his suites on the recorder, demonstrating his lively interest in the
“As there are some that go down too low
for the recorder, it will be necessary to have recourse to transposition when
one wants to play them on that Instrument; one would transpose the key of D to
F, of G a major third to B and E a minor
third to G."
The rest of the introduction deals with
the interpretation of the pieces in general and the manner of realising the
“This is what seems to me necessary for
the understanding of these Pieces; if one is willing to pay attention to these
little remarks, I hope that one will be able to play these same Pieces
properly, and many others, since the rules are general ones."
The reason why Holleterre explained so
precisely the way of playing these pieces was doubtless due to the fact that
very few flautists, apart from his colleagues and pupils, were able to
interpret his music suitably (this fact is underlined by de La Barre in the introduction
to his flute pieces of 1702). The first remark that he makes on the matter of
style further confirms this suggestion:
"In matters concerning taste and
correctness, I have marked as far as possible the ornaments in the most
The second point tackled by the composer
is the way of realising the ornaments:
"It will be noticed that it is
necessary to make lower vibrato (flattements) on all the long notes and these
must be made as well as trills (tremblements) and mordents (battements), slower
or faster, according to the tempo and character of the Pieces."
The Premier livre de pieces (First
Book of Pieces) contains three suites of length varying from seven to twelve
pieces. These are made according to the formal rules customary at the beginning
of the eighteenth century and only the preludes, abstract in structure, are not
in accordance with the usual dance practice.
Each of the pieces, except the preludes,
has a title which may be:
1. The name of one of Holleterre's
distinguished pupils or admirers: Le Duc d'Orléans, Le Comte de Brione, La Guimon, La
Beaulieu, La Chauvet, Le Fargis.
2. The character of the piece: La
Royalle, La Fidelle, L'lndiférente, Le Plaintif, Le
3. A picture L 'Atalante, La
Cascade de Saint-Cloud, Le Départ, Le Lutin.
Each time the composer offers a
reflection of society, while giving free reign to his musical imagination,
reminding us of La Fontaine and La Bruyère. Some pieces in particular will
serve to illustrate this:
an allemande in which the ascending and descending scales wonderfully
suggest the title: in Greek mythology Atalanta was the daughter of King lasos,
who, not wishing to marry anyone who could not defeat her in running, overtook
all who competed with her and killed them. Perhaps Hotteterre intended to
describe under the characteristics of this woman a certain person at court. If
so, this remains hidden.
The sarabande La Fidelle is
absolutely faithful to the form of the dance and the style of the airs de
cour of Lambert, with variations calling for great virtuosity. It
offers a good example of the ornamentation of slow movements in French music at
the beginning of the eighteenth century.
In the Cascade de Saint-Cloud, a
real painting in music of the famous cascade of Saint-Cloud, which can still be
seen today, the composer has amused himself by giving the impression of a
perpetual falling through the use of wide intervals. The basso continuo part,
far from fulfilling its simple role of accompaniment joins in the descriptive
phrases of the treble.
The Rondeau, Le Plaintif, like the Sarabande
La Fidelle, is a reflection of the airs de cour, with all their
principal characteristics, languor, fluidity and difficulty. The first hesitant
and plaintive phrase is repeated in the rondeau and ornamented, without,
however, losing its repetitive and languid character. It is for the player to
adjust his playing to the character of the piece and to give this rondeau all
the gentle tenderness recommended by the composer. The adjective 'plaintive' is
one of those most often used to describe the sound of the flute, doubtless the
justification for this title.
As for L'Italienne this is a gigue
which, as its name shows, is to be played fast. Of English origin, this dance
appeared in France in the period of Louis XIV and is written in two ways, the
French in a stately 6/4 and the Italian in fast tempo compound-rhythm bars.
Hotteterre's has all the characteristics of the Italian gigue, flexible, lively
and making use of the rhythmic cells usual in this form.
When Hotteterre died in 1763 the transverse flute of his youth had
developed but it certainly owes a great deal to him. Thanks to his treatises,
he remains more than just a name in the history of flute literature, given
further distinction by his successors Blavet and Buttardin.
version by Keith Anderson)
Recorded at the Church of Saint Hyppolite,
Le Tarn, between 13th and 17th November 1995 (mean
temperature 12 C, high humidity).
Producer: Manuel Mohino (Musica Numeris)
Editions: Facsimile, Spes & Minkoff.
Harpsichord: Hemsch 1741 (Madame Moulinié,
Thanks to the Hôtel Occitan in Castres for
Philippe Allain-Dupré (Baroque
Philippe Allain-Dupré studied with
Barthold Kujiken at the Brussels Conservatoire Royale. He specialises in three
kinds of wooden transverse flutes, the cylindrical flute of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, the single-key Baroque flute and the multiple-key
classical flute of the first half of the nineteenth century. He plays
instruments that he has made himself, copying those preserved in museums. He
teaches at the Conservatoires in Toulouse and in Paris and has taken part in
many recordings of French Baroque music on original instruments, notably
recordings of the Flute Concerto of Leclair, the Suites en trio
of Marin Marais, the Paris Quartets of Telemann, the Flute Sonatas of
Blavet and several releases of French cantatas by Rameau, Boismortier, Campra
Yasuko Uyama-Bouvard (harpsichord)
Born in Kyoto, the Japanese harpsichordist
Yasuko Uyama-Bouvard studied with Michel Chapuis and Huguette Dreyfus and is
organist at Notre Dame du Taur in Toulouse. She teaches at the Conservatoires
of Toulouse and Montauban.
Philippe Pierlot (viola da gamba)
Philippe Pierlot plays a seven-string
viola da gamba by Francois Bodart. He directs the Ricercar Consort, with which
he has recorded several discs for the company of the same name, in particular
the viol suites of Marin Marais. He leaches the viol in Liège, Toulouse and
Vincent Dumestre (theorbo)
Vincent Dumestre plays a theorbo by
Lourdes Uncilla Moreno. He studied classical guitar with D. Daigremont and the
lute and basso continuo with Hopkinson Smith and Rolf Lislevand, as well as at
the Boulogne Conservatoire under Frédéric Michel.
Jean-Francois Bougès (second flute, Le
Fargis and Le Champêtre)
Jean-Francois Bougès teaches the flute at
Phjljppe Allain-Dupré: Note on the Instruments
To choose an instrument to play the suites
by Hotteterre is not as easy as it at first appears. Everyone has seen in
paintings of the period from 1700 to 1730 those
great transverse flutes decorated with ivory bands, as shown on the cover of this
release. When one looks for instruments of this kind, however, in museums or
private collections, the result is disappointing. There are some rare
instruments in quite bad condition or others with the signature of Hotteterre
that turn out to be forgeries made at the end of the nineteenth century for a
collector, César Snoeck, like the flutes signed Hotteterre de La
Couture-Boussey, in Berlin and in St Petersburg (according to the researches of
Ardal Powell, published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society,
Vol. 49, 1996, pp.225-269).
The answer could be to take a later
instrument, in four sections, dating from 1730
or 1740, to play this music published in 1708 and 1715. It
is the solution reached by the majority of present Baroque flautists, who play
music composed before 1750 on copies of classical flutes by
G.A.Rottenburgh or C.A.Gresner, dating clearly from at least 1760. Their
decision is understandable, for the more recent the instrument, the less
damaged it is by time and the more it benefits from this idea of
"progress" in instrument-making.
I have chosen rather to go in the opposite
direction. The only flute in three sections that I have found satisfactory in
the course of my researches is preserved with the Franciscans in Assisi. This
is clearly a flute of the end of the seventeenth century, with its large bore,
varying from 192mm to 15mm and its bands resembling those of the recorder. This
is also the only instrument I know that has a pitch of A=392Hz. Flutes by
Rippert, Naust and Chevalier, and the Hotteterre flute in Graz have a higher
pitch of 400Hz For this recording I have used two copies, one in box-wood and
one in ebony, taken from this anonymous flute preserved in the library of the
Franciscans in Assisi.
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