Devienne’s flute tutor, 1820


The most influential tutor for the classical or pre-Bohem flute.

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 DEVIENNE, Francois (1759–1803)

Méthode pour la flûte … Nouvelle édition augmentée des gammes pour la flûte à petites clefs, de quelques exemples pour l’emploi de ces clefs & de seize petits airs nouveaux.

Paris: chez Janet et Cotelle … et libraires rue Neuve des Petits Champs No. 17 vis-à-vis le Trésor Royal, [1820?].

Folio: engraved throughout, pp. [2] 113 [1] (verso of title and last page blank). Calligraphic burin engraved titleplate incorporating a vignette (a naked Pan playing his flute in a forest), signed ‘La Musique gravée par Richomme gaveur du Roi. Frontispiece gravé par L. Aubert père’; pp. 3–41 text, fingering charts (with 4 illustrations of flutes) and musical examples; pp. 42–113 compositions, mostly duets. Plate number 402 on all plates after the titleplate.

Condition: 338 x 254. Some dustsoiling, early repair to foremargin of title. 

Binding: Contemporary calf over marbled boards. Head of spine defective, corners bumped and worn. 

Provenance: Early owner’s stamp on title, undeciphered; pencil signature on endleaf, undeciphered. 

Second edition? (First as Nouvelle méthode … Paris: Imbault, 1794, reprinted from the same plates by Naderman, 1805). 

The most influential tutor for the classical (pre-Bohem system) flute. ‘It contains information on flute techniques and performing practice (particularly late 18th-century articulation) as well as flute duets of elementary and intermediate difficulty.’ (Grove Music Online). The first edition of 1794 was for the single-keyed flute; in this edition instruction for playing a four-keyed instrument are added. 

Devienne played the bassoon at the Paris Opera and was professor of flute at the Paris Conservatoire from its foundation in 1793. He composed several successful operas in the 1790s and a large number of instrumental works ‘which did much to raise the musical level of works written for wind instruments in France in the 18th century’ (Grove). His compositions for flute were revived by Jean-Pierre Rampal in the 1960s and several of the concertos have been recorded while a number of the compositions in the Méthode are included in modern anthologies of flute music.

As was often the case with music publications with extensive text, the text as well as the music is engraved with punches, probably on pewter plates. 

OCLC locates a single copy of this edition in the Dutch Royal Library, dating it 1820.