Leone Buyse

Remembering Lessons with Leone Buyse at Boston University


I had not quite finished my Masters degree when Louis Moyse retired from Boston University and Leone Buyse, Co-Principal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, became my new flute teacher for that final year. Her emersion in the French style of playing with Debost, Rampal and Marcel Moyse made our transition together easy, and familiar.  Her attention to detail, yet her ability to see the pig picture in all things enabled me to step outside myself, after spending 10 years focused micro elements with the Moyse’s. Both Marcel and Louis were Moyse were very fastidious teachers.

In addition, her energy and professionalism make her one the most sought after teachers today. Her personal and professional ethics rise above and rarely matched. She will also “tell it like it is” constructively and positively. Her extraordinarily fine musicianship and ear tower over many of her colleagues and her understanding of harmony, piano playing and brilliant flute sound are models to strive for.

To this day we have kept in touch and I invited her and Michael Webster, long standing music friend and talented colleague to share with the SDSU music school in a recital lecture. It was a pleasure to play in a piece on their recital. We also share the joy of hiking and the great outdoors and the love on cats!

I have fond memories of listening to your concertos together in my home and I defer to her for words of wisdom when I need it. Seeing & listening to how hard a symphony member must work and being surrounded by her work ethic was a tribute to my education with her. Now her solo and chamber endeavors with her Trio and her support of musical societies are main stage for her. She is always in the news! For her latest accolade from NFA –CONGRATULATIONS Leone!

POWELL NEWS: An Interview with Leone Buyse!

Leone Buyse received the National Flute Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Flute Association Convention.This esteemed award has been given every year since 1991 to honor flutists who are considered the best and the brightest of the flute world. The debut award went to Jean-Pierre Rampal and since that time, luminaries from Julius Baker to Jeanne Baxtresser have joined the ranks.

Who was your most influential teacher? Why?

It’s really impossible to say who my most influential teacher was because each of my major teachers (David Berman, Joseph Mariano, Michel Debost, and Jean-Pierre Rampal) encouraged my musical development in his own unique and very inspiring way.  My one summer master class with Marcel Moyse in Boswil, Switzerland, was also pivotal in my growth, even though it was only three weeks.

Do you have any “pre-concert” preparations or traditions that you follow?

On the day of a concert I follow a fairly careful dietary regimen, avoiding caffeine and sugar. If my performance is in the evening I’ll eat a fairly substantial meal in the early afternoon and then have scrambled eggs a couple of hours before playing. I also try to do a few minutes of yoga, and (if I have the time) to power walk and take a refreshing shower in the late afternoon.

Is there a concert or teaching experience that most stands out to you in your career?

Being summoned from a Symphony Hall audience and asked to sub on piccolo during a Boston Symphony concert in February of 1995 was an unexpected highlight of my professional life.

At the time I was teaching at the University of Michigan and visiting Boston after having just performed a concert and master class at the Hartt School. Leon Fleisher was soloist in a new Lukas Foss concerto that evening, and remembered the location of my comp “retiree” seat so that an usher could contact me while Ozawa was conducting a work for string orchestra. The repertoire that night also included Dukas’ “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe,” and piccoloist Geralyn Coticone had been stricken with stomach flu at 7:20 PM.  Apparently every freelance flutist whom the personnel office contacted had declined the opportunity to perform those challenging works without rehearsal for a Symphony Hall audience, so I was the orchestra’s last hope…

I had exactly 40 minutes to practice on a borrowed piccolo after changing from street clothes into the black suit Ozawa’s personal assistant happened to be wearing.  (Fortunately we wore the same size!). When I arrived onstage during intermission Fenwick oriented me to various tempi and then Ozawa made his entrance. The concert ended with Daphnis, and I’m sure the audience wondered why Ozawa saved the final bow for the piccolo player, and also why the orchestra then began applauding wildly. I received a special review by Richard Dyer in the Boston Globe and a generous check from my former employer for helping out in an unexpected crisis. It was a delight to be back onstage with my friends playing such thrilling symphonic repertoire, and it was also proof that music learned really well can remain in one’s fingers and retrieved at a moment’s notice when necessary!

What piece of advice would you give flutists who are trying to establish a career in music?

Discover your own strengths and devise ways to share them and your passion for music. There is no one else with your unique contribution of attributes, and you must believe that that you can truly make a difference in our world.

What CD is in your CD player right now? (Or what playlist is your favorite on your iPod?)

This may sound strange, but I tend not to listen a lot to music on a regular basis.  Much of each day is spent hearing others play in lessons or masterclasses or listening to myself practice, and my ears need a break in order to stay fresh. I do listen to classical repertoire that I’m curious about, and my taste in music runs from classical to ethnic (Tuvan thorat singing, for example) to jazz and country (I live in Texas, after all!). I even enjoy some of my stepson’s heavy metal and guitar virtuosos, such as Steve Vai.