Moyse, Marcel, 1889-1984

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1889-05-17
Death 1984-11-01
French
French, English

Biographical notes:

Marcel Moyse was a renowned flutist, teacher and chamber music coach in addition to being an amateur artist of some accomplishment.

Moyse was born on May 17, 1889 in Saint Amour, France. At age 15, he traveled to Paris to live with his uncle, a professional cellist. In 1906, Moyse studied flute with Paul Taffanel and won the premier prix at the Paris Conservatoire. Moyse was a soloist in the Opera-Comique in Paris from 1913 to 1938. He first toured America in 1913. Moyse performed as soloist under most of the leading conductors of this period. He studied with Phillippe Gaubert in 1919 and later with Adolphe Hennebains. Moyse continued an extremely successful concert career and was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur in the 1930s. In the 1940s, Moyse divided his time between Europe and South America and, in 1949, he and his wife Celine relocated to Brattleboro, Vermont. With the help of Serkin and Adolf Busch, Moyse opened the music department at Marlboro College. Encouraged by their success, they started the Brattleboro Music Center.

Moyse spent his career as a performer and teacher. Many works were composed for him, most notably Jacques Iberts Flute concerto, which he premièred in 1934. He taught flute for 22 years at the Paris Conservatory, in addition to the many years spent teaching in Brattleboro. He led classes in Europe and Japan, wrote 37 books of studies for the flute, and produced recordings such as "The French School of Flute Playing."

Moyse died on November 1, 1984 in Brattleboro, Vermont.

From the description of Marcel Moyse papers, 1862-1989 (bulk 1889-1984). (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122615086

Marcel Moyse (1889-1984) was born on May 17th in Saint Amour, to an unwed mother, who died nine days later, and a father who refused to acknowledge his existence. Moyse was given his mother’s family name and was passed on by the midwife to a woman named Madame Perretier. Marcel lived with Madame Perretier and her two daughters for seven years until his maternal grandparents claimed him.

At age 15, he traveled to Paris to live with his uncle, a professional cellist. In 1906, Moyse studied flute with Paul Taffanel and won the premier prix at age 16.

Moyse was a soloist in the Opera-Comique in Paris from 1913 to 1938. He first toured America in 1913, playing the obligatos for Nellie Melba. Moyse was a soloist under such conductors as Furtwaengler, Toscanini, Prokofiev and Richard Strauss. Then in 1919, he studied with Phillippe Gaubert and later with Adolphe Hennebains. In 1934, Moyse played in the premiere of Ibert’s Flute Concerto, which had been dedicated to him. Also in the 1930s, Moyse was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, one of the highest civilian honors in France.

In 1939, Moyse’s son Louis Moyse married Blanche Honegger. Moyse founded a Trio with Louis on the piano and Blanche on the violin, just before Louis left to fight in World War II. In 1940, Honegger gave birth to twin sons, Michel and Claude. After the war, the Trio regrouped and returned to Paris but found the atmosphere oppressive. So, they along with Celine Moyse and Louis’ third child, Isabelle, left for South America and with old friends, Rudolph Serkin and Irene Busch, they gave many concerts. The next year, the Moyses’ returned to Europe.

In 1949, the Moyses immigrated to Brattleboro, Vermont and, with the help of Serkin and Busch, opened the music department at Marlboro College. Encouraged by their success, they started the Brattleboro Music Center, enrolling 200 students during the first year alone.

Moyse made his mark on the musical world by perpetuating the French-style of flute playing, which became popular after World War II. The French-style flute cultivated a smooth, rich, penetrating and brilliant sound, to which vibrato was commonly added, in contrast to the dark, dense, compact sound, without vibrato, that had been cultivated by English and German players for the past 150 years. Broadcasts and recordings made the polished and evocative playing of French-style flutists available to a large international public. These players were exponents of the Taffanel school, passed down by his students Adolphe Hennebains, Gaubert and Marcel Moyse. It was Moyse’s innovative approach that provided the foundation for a new French school.

Moyse spent his career as a performer and teacher. He taught flute for 22 years at the Paris Conservatory, in addition to the many years spent teaching in Brattleboro. He led classes in Europe and Japan, wrote 37 books of studies for the flute, and produced recordings such as “The French School of Flute Playing.” Moyse died on November 1, 1984 in Brattleboro, Vermont.

From the guide to the Marcel Moyse papers, 1862-1989, 1889-1984, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

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Subjects:

  • Flute--Studies and exercises
  • Flute
  • Flute--Instruction and study

Occupations:

  • Flute players
  • Conductor
  • Composers

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