was the first flutist in history to attract international
attention and large audiences comparable to those of virtuoso pianists and
string players. From the very beginning, his career was key to restoring
the instrument to the exalted position it held during the eighteenth century.
In his 1989 memoirs
"Musique, Ma Vie"
("Music, My Love", Random House),
he wrote about
how inconceivable it was in the 1940's to have a flutist who was not a member
of the orchestra come and perform a concerto with the group. He modestly
remarks that he was not unacquainted with the process which institutionalized
the practice and led to today's expectation of solo flutists as regular,
international concert tour fare. Later, Rampal also gained recognition as
Born in Marseilles in 1922 , Jean-Pierre Rampal's father Joseph was principal
flutist of the Marseilles Symphony and professor of flute at the Conservatory.
His mother oriented him towards a career in medicine. His father did not
encourage him to become a professional flutist but gave him lessons during
his childhood. The turning point came under rather dramatic circumstances
during the second world war. While in his third year of medical school,
he was drafted for compulsory labor in Germany by the Nazi occupation forces.
Unwilling to submit, he went underground and escaped to Paris.
Paris, he attended classes at the National Conservatory and graduated with
first prize in flute playing five months later. He earned his living recording
works by composers like Milhaud and Schoenberg who were banned at that time.
At the Conservatory, he also met the soloists who later became his companions
in the "Quintette à Vent Français" and the "Ensemble Baroque
After the liberation of Paris, he abandoned medicine forever to pursue a
dual career as first flutist with the Paris Opera and solo flutist performing
recitals on the radio and, with harpsichordist, Robert Veyron-Lacroix, touring
the musical capitals of Europe. The other virtuosos from this era that he
collaborated with were oboist Pierre Pierlot, basoonists Maurice Allard
and Paul Hongne, clarinetist Jacques Lancelot, and violinist Robert Gendre.
Together, they piloted the reconquest of the baroque répertoire which
was undergoing a renaissance in the late 1950's. Riding the crest of this
renewed interest, Rampal did extensive research on the baroque period at
the Bibliotheque National, uncovering dozens of unknown flute concerti and
chamber works. In parallel, he played many duets with harpist Lily Laskine.
Numerous recordings from these earlier years appeared on the Erato label.