1834.07.25, Fri: On Louis Drôuet and the Flute

    1834.07.25, Fri: On Louis Drôuet and the Flute
    October 27, 2020 TeSplendente

    1834.07.25, Fri: Anne Lister and Ann Walker experience Louis Francois Philippe Drôuet (1792-1873) and Mme Drôuet live while on their honeymoon tour in Europe. And enjoy it very much:

    – the instrumental music good – the singing indifferent except Madame Drouet who / sang well her husband’s composition to his flute – this very good and still better Drouet’s flute / solo – much in Der Freyschutz with variations –  his playing very fine. – Tones beautiful and / execution perfect – this worth the whole concert – ” ~ Anne Lister (SH:7/ML/E/17/0063)

    “singing better than at Church – / M. Drouet’s performance on flute in Overture to Der / Freischutz, perfect.” ~ Ann Walker (WYC:1525/7/1/5/1)

    The Ann(e)’s own emphasis. Although the day had a rough start with line-ups, crowding, and a long wait, all turned out as it often does – “very fine.”

    1834.06.27, Fri: This event was a chance occurrence which they made a point to attend when their paths crossed at Dijon, France. A month prior Anne notes hearing that Drôuet was to lead a concert that evening [1834.06.27, Fri] at the Church of St Michel:

    “Church of St Michel … a concert of the great Musicians from Paris held there this evening – Drouet the great flute player, the leader.” (SH:7/ML/E/17/0047)

    Ann makes no mention of this rather being absorbed in pointing out various Churches in the area as they continued through en route. – This concert would have a different impact on Anne than Ann as she not only played the flute but had played Louis Drôuet’s own compositions and followed Drôuet’s early tours through London.

    1817.04.22, Tues: Anne first encounters the works of Drôuet while studying the flute seventeen years previous. Whilst this is a self-prescribed choice for Anne, informed as she often is by knowledge of contemporary influences, this mode of study has stood the test of time and hasn’t changed in over 200 years  – Drôuet’s variations are standard Royal Conservatory learning.

    “- went to Whitley’s the stationers ^got Drôuet’s God Save the King^ … / the flute 1/2 hour before tea and also 1/2 hour after. Trying Drôuet’s variations which I think I / can soon play tho’ Whitley told me that Sugden, reputed a very good player, and the best / hereabouts, said it was too difficult for him and he durst not venture on it – I never / heard him play, and this gives me no great opinion of him – By the way, Whitley told me // that this Drôuet, a Frenchman, had made 20 (twenty) guineas a week all / last winter by his flute playing in London !!!” (SH:7/ML/E/1/0006)

    (Sugden may have benefited from a Boehm style flute. Thankfully, today’s flutes are made in this manner making playing much easier, especially playing Drôuet who is known as the Paganini of flute composers. In fact, Drôuet, a flute designer himself, recognized the improvement and embraced and wrote specifically for this new fingering arrangement in the coming years.)

    And in the Index:

    “Drouet, Sugden” (SH:7/ML/E/1/0082)

    1817.04.29, Tues: Ever the scientific mind, Anne decided to put this possible revelation of skill to the test:

    “Called at Whitley’s the bookseller’s to pay for a blank book, and, saying I should like to hear Sugden play // on the flute, Mr Whitley said he was sure he would be happy to play any time I liked / if I would fix a time – and next Tuesday afternoon was named – ” (SH:7/ML/E/1/0007/r.33-0008/v.1-3)

    Immediately, upon reflection some anxiety is experienced in regards to this meeting and it is noted in crypt hand:

    “*I repent this uncertain how / far the thing is quiet correct      that is how far it is sufficiently keeping up my dignity / however it is fixed now      and I must make the best of it …. besides I shall only stay about ten minutes* Got home to tea … playing the flute half an hour – Played / another 1/2 hour during supper.” (SH:7/ML/E/1/0008)

    This anxiety brings to mind both Anne’s persistent class consciousness but also the Captain Bourne pistol incident of 1809 which caused some social grief – Anne had been shown the Captain’s pistols, upstairs, alone, “in his room”. Luckily the Captain, a “gentleman” through and through, was able to smooth it over with the Lister’s (Jeremy & Rebecca), but a repeat occurrence may not work out as well and any unfavourable repercussions could negatively affect all involved.

    1817.05.06, Tues: After practising on the weekend the scheduled event arrived and proceeded with the utmost propriety:

    “called at Whitley’s (the booksellers) … / … and then Mr. Sugden came – went upstairs for 5 minutes and heard him / play a couple of airs without book – He said he was a very bad player without book that his flute / was very dry, he had not touched it of 3 weeks – I complimented him / highly, and, as far as I could judge, he deserved it – his tone and taste both good, particularly the / former – ” (SH:7/ML/E/1/0009)

    Louis Drôuet, Variations, Study No. 15:

    And despite being out of practice it turns out Anne’s opinion is changed to the contrary and she is further encouraged to inquire about Sugden’s terms:

    “- I asked his terms for teaching – A guinea a quarter for 1 lesson a week / and a guinea and 1/2 per quarter for 2 lessons per week – He is quite self-taught – He was a fustian cutter by trade, but this grew so bad, he gave it up, and, being a single / man, supports himself by teaching, singing, the flute, or French horn, and writing out / music for anyone – I rather think his living is but spare – *This adventure has passed off more satisfactorily than I expected* -” (SH:7/ML/E/1/0009)

    Making a notation in the Index:

    “Sugden on the flute – his terms” (SH:7/ML/E/1/0082)

    1817.11.03, Mon / 1818.01.12, Mon: Thus impressed Anne patronizes Sugden’s talents accordingly and he is hired to fix up Anne’s flute on at least two occasions: “Brought my flute home (the newer one) that Whitley has got Sugden to clean up for me – It is much improved and I can now play with pleasure” (SH:7/ML/E/1/0048/v.23); and “left my flute piece for Sugden to repair the D key.” (SH:7/ML/E/1/0072/v.27).

    From this description it is unknown what type of flutes Anne played, usually 1/2 hour during supper, though given the early date they were nearly certainly a one-key (with a d# key) or, at the most fanciful, of the simple-system variety. It is known that her father, Jeremy Lister could play (SH:7/JL/15), or at least started to learn, and it is not unimaginable that she learned on an earlier model. Perhaps they are still in the Shibden collection?

    “This adventure” not only “passed off more satisfactory than expected” it would open up a pathway culminating in the privilege of hearing the live performance of Drôuet in Geneva with the providence of sharing the experience with Ann Walker, her future partner.

    Der Freischutz, Fantasia:
    (From: A song without Words, The Legacy of Paul Taffanel, Kenneth Smith, flute and Paul Rhodes, piano.)


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