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Jean-Pierre Rampal

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Jean-Pierre Louis Rampal (7 January 1922 – 20 May 2000) was a celebrated French flautist and “has been credited with returning to the flute the popularity as a solo classical instrument it had not held since the 18th century.”

Born in Marseille, the son of Andrée (née Roggero) and flautist Joseph Rampal, Jean-Pierre Rampal became the first exponent of modern times to establish the solo flute on the international concert circuit and to attract the acclaim and large audiences comparable to those enjoyed by celebrity singers, pianists and violinists. This was not easily done in the immediate post-war years, as it was not usual for the solo flute to be featured widely in orchestral concerts. But Rampal’s flair and presence (he was a big man to wield such a slim instrument so delicately) made the breakthrough and, as such, he personally paved the way for the next generation of flautist-superstars such as James Galway and, more recently, Emmanuel Pahud.

Rampal was a player in the classical French flute tradition (his father had been taught by Hennebains, who had also taught Marcel Moyse), although behind Rampal’s superior technical facility lay the cavalier ‘Latin’ temperament of the Mediterranean south rather than the more formal character of the elite institutions of the Parisian north. His playing style was characterised especially by a bright sound, a sonorous elegance of phrasing lit up by a rich palette of subtle tone colours, combined with a dashing, lightly-articulated virtuosity that thrilled audiences in his heyday.

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