Richard Adeney John Amadio Julius Baker Clement Barone Georges Barrère Frances Blaisdell Heinz Breiden Fernand Caratgé Gaston Crunelle Leonardo De Lorenzo Léon Fontbonne Albert Fransella Philippe Gaubert Geoffrey Gilbert Adolphe Hennebains Eli Hudson Gilbert Jespersen Edward de Jong William Kincaid Georges Laurent Lucien Lavaillotte René Le Roy Marshall Lufsky Darius Lyons Gareth Morris Marcel Moyse Jean Nada Josef Niedermayr Edith Penville Jean-Pierre Rampal Robert Murchie Gustav Scheck Arrigo Tassinari Friedrich Thomas Edward Walker Gordon Walker Robert Bigio Flute maker
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Léon Fontbonne By Bernard Duplaix Translated by Robert Bigio Léon Fontbonne (1859–1940) was born in Clermont-Ferrand, in central France. At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Fontbonne's family moved to Belgium. There, after an apprenticeship as a typographer at a newspaper and after teaching himself the flute, Fontbonne began his musical studies, including composition, at the Conservatoire in Liège where he studied with Edouard Tricot. He received his Premier Prix with distinction in 1877. On returning to France, he continued serious studies in composition and played in symphony orchestras in Paris. In 1883 he was admitted, without audition, into the Musique de la Garde Républicaine, the official band and orchestra, where he soon became first flute. He occupied this position until 1908, often doubling on piccolo. A hugely talented man and an engaging character, he became one of the most popular musicians of the Belle Époque. Fontbonne was adored by Paris audiences and particularly by lovers of open-air concerts, and as a pioneer of recordings he achieved a level of national fame scarcely imaginable today. Fontbonne left the Garde Républicaine after 25 years' service, but, while remaining nostalgic about his past glory, this most positive-minded musician directed his energies to many undertakings, notably as a composer, concert organiser and conductor, and remained active for a number of decades. He died in Paris in 1940 having spent his final years tirelessly telling the tales of the great adventure of his life: the Garde Républicaine.
Christopher Steward’s early flute recordings
Fontbonne: La Chasse aux Papillons, with an unknown pianist. Recorded July 1899.
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Photograph of Léon Fontbonne courtesy of Bernard Duplaix.
Léon Fontbonne Léon Fontbonne