Marcel Moyse


Legendary French flutist and teacher, Marcel Moyse had a profound influence on flute and woodwind playing in the 20th Century. His influence and pedagogical books still influence almost every flutist today. He was born in 1889 in St. Amour, France. As a young boy, he often accompanied his grandfather who played cello, to the local community chorus rehearsals and opera performances. When Moyse was twelve, his grandfather Alfred enrolled him in Besançon’s municipal music school, where he received disciplined education in solfege. At this time he also began taking flute lessons with a local flutist named Angelloz.

In 1905 Moyse became a student of Paul Taffanel at the Paris Conservatory. Moyse learned the importance of musicality rather than the technicality of the previous generation. This helped influence Moyse’s philosophy and approach to flute playing, which emphasized the responsibility of the musician to reproduce the musical expression that the composer intended rather than to use the music as a vehicle for demonstrating virtuosity. Trevor Wye said about Moyse’s musical ideas “Moyse was trying to establish an intelligent approach to making music which begins with practicing to reproduce what the composer wrote, or at least what the player believes the composer meant in his score.” (Wye, 1993) After his graduation from the Paris Conservatory, he was selected to be Philippe Gaubert’s teaching assistant.

In 1932, Moyse was promoted to Professor of flute at the Paris Conservatory, where he would remain until he fled the city when the Germans invaded Paris in 1940 (Camp, 1997). In 1949, Moyse immigrated to the United States and bringing the France school of flute playing to many North American through his pedagogical career there.

Also known as the author/composer of numerous publications for flute, many of his books such as De la Sonorite and Tone Development through Interpretation have become invaluable to the serious flute student. He continued to attract dedicated and talented students throughout his life as one of founders of the Marlboro Music School, and remained a vital and inspirational force as a private studio and master class teacher until his death in 1984 (Marcel Moyse Society, 2011).

Moyse Makeover for the Flute