Advice on flute playing from De Lorenzo and Barrere (1915)

Benjamin F. Gravely wrote to Leonardo De Lorenzo on July 25, 1915. Mr. Gravely has a nice Boehm flute by Rudall Carte. He has three concerns: (1) He needs help with the very high notes. (2) He has trouble getting a good sound on the low C, C#, and D. (3) He finds it awkward to move from C# or C at the top of the first octave to D above. Well, some things never change.

Evidently Gravely wrote a similar letter to George Barrere, as I have a reply from him as well as De Lorenzo.

De Lorenzo's reply came on the back of a card. He advises Gravely to get a good teacher, and to practice exercises number 2, 40, and 96 in his L'Indespensabile (and he tells Gravely where he can buy the book).

Barrere's response was more philosophical. Here is the main part of his response.

Books can be written, hours can be spent and since there are flute players nobody had still found the way to teach theoretically how to obtain a beautiful tone on our instrument. I am inclined to think that, like the voice, the tone is a natural gift that can be developed.

My idea of flute playing (someday I shall write articles about it) is that we do not need to spend so much time, energy and intellegence on the technical side of it, but more on the work of the lips. The lips need more training than the fingers. Teachers tell you how to place your embouchure and how to blow a tone. Now, do you think the position should be the same for every player: do you think there is two people with the identical formation of lips. No more than there are two leaves alike on earth.

I wish I can see you someday either when you can come in N.Y. or if we ever have a chance to stop in Martinsville and we could talk the matter over— to come more to the point I send you a little exercise which you might find useful. Hope to have the pleasure of meeting you someday and thanking you very hearty for your kind appreciation of my work, I am most truly yours

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