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Gaubert Philippe (1879-1941)Philippe Gaubert was born in Cahors (Lorraine, France) on the
5th of July, 1879. His father, a shoe maker and amateur clarinettist, gave him his first music
lessons. When Philippe was seven the family moved to Paris, where Jules Taffanel, and a few years
later Taffanel`s son Paul, became his flute teachers. At first he received private lessons, but since
1893 he studied at the Paris Conservatoire, receiving a First Prize the following year. His
teachers for harmony and composition were Raoul Pugno, Xavier Leroux and Charles Lenepveu.
In 1905 he received the 2nd Prix de Rome. In the meanwhile he had become the assistant
conductor of the `Socit des Concerts`, and after serving in the French army he was appointed
principal conductor of the Opra, as well as flute professor at the Conservatoire. After the Great
War he built up a splendid career, particularly as a conductor specializing in contemporary music.
Gaubert conducted many important premires, such as Albert Roussel`s opera `Padmvati` (1923) and the ballet
`Bacchus et Ariane` (1931), Gabriel Faur`s `Masques et Bergamasques` (1919), and Henri Sauguet`s `La Chartreuse
de Parme` (1939). Besides, many first performances of works by Piern and Ibert were conducted by Gaubert. He also
brought much Wagner and Berlioz, and presented a new interpretation of Monteverdi`s opera `Orfeo`. Gaubert toured
all over Europe. The `Wagnervereeniging` invited him to Amsterdam, where in 1935 he conducted the Concertgebouw
Orchestra in Paul Dukas` `Ariane et Barbebleu` at the Stadsschouwburg. In 1938 he was honoured as Commander of
the `Lgion d`honneur`. Philippe Gaubert was a prolific composer. He wrote many chamber music works, often for
flute, but also for other instruments and songs. For orchestra he composed three symphonic poems, a violin concerto,
ballet music and the operas `Fresques` (1923), and `Nala` (1927). Philippe Gaubert died in Paris on the 8th of July
1941, suffering a brain haemorrhage. It was only a few days after the premire of his ballet `Le Chevallier et la
demoiselle` at the Paris Opra.
THE THREE SONATAS
Philippe Gaubert wrote three sonatas for flute and piano, in 1917, 1924 and 1933 respectively. Although they differ in
concept and sound, there are similarities. These are mainly of a melodious, lyrical nature. The sometimes romantic,
orchestral colouring is a challenge for the piano accompanist. Their style is clearly neo-romantic and impressionistic.
The FIRST SONATA in A major (1917) was dedicated `to the memory of my dear mentor`, the flautist and conductor
Paul Taffanel (1844-1908). Taffanel was the author of an eight part flute method, which was edited and completed by
Gaubert and published in 1923. After a lyrical introduction (Modr), where the flute is accompanied by calm
semiquavers, a lively episode for both the left and right hand follows (Allegretto vivo) in C sharp minor. In the second
movement (Lent - Allegretto moderato - Tempo I) in E major, a 6/8m, is followed by a faster tempo and concluded by
tempo I. The first sixteen bars of the last movement (Allegro moderato) are somewhat mysterious, suggesting such an
opening line as `Once upon a time...`. The composer juggles the principal motif about like a real magician, sometimes
even fragmenting it. The conclusion is a recapitulation of the slow, pastoral introduction, rounding off a cyclic form.
The SECOND SONATA in C major was written in August and September 1924. Its
dedicatee was the illustrious flautist Marcel Moyse (who died in 1984, aged 95). It is a
remarkable, rather unknown piece. In the first movement (Pastorale, l`aise, mais non
sans lenteur) the theme is immediately introduced by the flute, then repeated in the
accompaniment. There is enough musical contrast, as appears in the important piano
part presenting the second theme, played legato in chords, simple and most refined. In
the second movement (Andante - Modr - Andante) a pastoral sounding theme
occasionally returns in the accompaniment. A second theme is decorated with
garlands,scales of thirds, somewhat reminiscent of Debussy`s Prlude `Voiles`. Then
the image of a lonely shepherd may appear again, with the melancholy playing of the
flute. The expressive third movement (Assez vif) has some dark touches. Brilliant duo
playing introduces the feathery second theme, gliding like a ballerina. Tension is built
up, and a chromatic scale in countermovement (flute/piano) leads to a brilliant, rather
sudden conclusion.
The THIRD SONATA in G major (1933) was dedicated to the solo flute of the Paris
opera orchestra and the orchestra of the `Concerts Lamoureux`, Jean Boulze. A lyric
theme by the flute, supported by piano harmonies, opens the first movement
(Allegretto). A second theme appears, and with its octaves the piano suggests an orchestral atmosphere. The
conclusion looks like an arabesque by Debussy. The second movement (Intermde pastoral: trs modr) presents a
choral melody with garlands, the whole note scale is its unmistakably impressionistic hallmark. The third movement is
the cheerful `Final: Joyeux` (Allegretto), with a highly expressive second theme. The different motifs move about
playfully. The chords and octaves in the piano accompaniment lend a glamorous touch of brilliancy to its conclusion.
AQUARELLES (1915) for piano, flute and violoncello
An aspect of the water colour technique is that it always remains transparent, and that the structure of the paper
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remains visible, even through three layers of colour. In 1915 Gaubert composed three `Aquarelles` for flute,
violoncello and piano. These individual instruments have their own characteristics and sound qualities, but together
they can turn each `Aquarelle` into a beautiful and fascinating blend of themes, harmonies, and rhythms.Pas un clair
matin opens with the robust presence of the flute, on a clear morning. The bright sunlight is suggested by the
arpeggios in the piano part.Soir d`Automne is the title of the second `Aquarelle`, a melancholy cello melody, to which
the flute and the piano are added in a quiet, romantic atmosphere.The third character piece is called Srnade. It is a
catching piece in the rather Spanish style that is also suggested by the imitation of castanets.
MADRIGAL (1908)
This piece (Moderato quasi allegretto) was composed in the year Gaubert`s teacher Paul Taffenel died. The
introduction must have been inspired by Csar Franck`s violin sonata, while there is a connection with Faur
melodically.
SUR L`EAU (1910)
This piece `alla barcarolla` (Moderato - Un peu plus vite - Tempo I) for flute and piano was dedicated to E. Millet. It
was published by a well-known Paris publishing house, Henry Lemoine & Co. The melodious barcarole is coloured by
attractive harmonies in the piano accompaniment.