Charles( or Carl) Saust is possibly the most forgotten of the early nineteenth century flutists in comparison to the degree by which he was celebrated. A review of Saust's Foreign Melodies begins by saying "the names of Saust and Drouet are in themselves recommendatory of whatever they shall publish for the flute" and goes on to say that the two volumes by Saust under review "would have enabled a good orchestra performer, half a century ago, to appear very respectably before the public". (Note that the name of Drouet, who had a long and successful international career spanning most of the nineteenth century, is listed second). W.N. James, in his Word or Two on the Flute, first published 1826, devotes four and a half pages to Saust, about whom he speaks in the most glowing of terms. The style of Saust "is elegant, refined, and classical, and seems to have arrived at the last degree of beauty and polish. His tone is exquisitely beautiful....there is also an ease in his method of performing, and a raciness (if I may so term it) in his expression that gives to every thing that he touches an air of sweetness and elegance." James continues: "It is a delightful treat to hear him play his own variations to some little air. It is perfectly impossible to define the notes in writing as he executes them: they are performed in a style peculiar to himself; and it is only by hearing them, that a person can at all catch the stray graces which constantly attend them." On the debit side, however he does not have, according to James, a powerful tone, and movements requiring much energy or majesty "are consequently (though by no means to be called a deficiency) not equal to his delicious expression and other delicacies." He is best heard in a private room, that is, not in a public concert. James is evidently unaware of the duos from 1808, nor probably of any of the works of Saust published by André in Offenbach (see the works list below).
There is very little biographical information to be had regarding Saust. He was born in 1773, in Ballenstadt, in the duchy of Anhalt, Saxony (northwest of Halle and Leipzig). The TeutschesKünstlerlexikon(1809) describes him as Virtuose auf der Flöte in der Kapelle des Herzogs von Anhalt-Deffau. Anhalt-Dessau became a Duchy in 1807, and Prince Leopold III consequently became Duke (Herzog). Thus it is reasonable to surmise that Saust was still employed and resident in Dessau in 1807 and 1808, a hypothesis congruent with the fact that his works published by André can all be dated to these two years. On the other hand, this conflicts with the statement by the Dictionary of Musicians (1824, 1827) that Saust arrived in England in 1800. One work by Saust was published (via lithography) in England in 1805-1806 by G.J.Vollweiler, who was connected with the publisher André in Offenbach: the op. 5 variations. The earliest English reference in the press that I have found to Saust is in a review of a work by Latour published in the Universal Magazine (p. 360) of 1808. The work consists of 26 variations on a gavotte in which Latour endeavors to imitate the style of 22 of the "finest instrumental performers, composers and singers". Included among these is Saust (who the critic identifies as a "celebrated flute player"). Perhaps Saust had visited England on tour, and only moved definitively to England in 1809 or after.
The Dictionary of Musicians also states that Saust studied flute with J.F. Taubert. The latter was born c. 1750, and held an appointment in Bernburg (45km east of Ballenstedt, where he died of asthma in 1803). Saust also studied thoroughbass with Karl Christian Agthe (1762-1797, organist at Bernburg, and who also died in Ballenstedt) and composition (later) with John Samuel Charles Possin, a native of Berlin who emigrated to England in 1792, and who bequeathed his manuscript compositions to Saust on the condition that they not be published. Perhaps Saust's study with Possin was at a time (later) when both were residing in London.
Following is a tentative works list for Saust (James: "the compositions of Mr. Saust are not very numerous, but they are deservedly popular"). The surviving works fall into two categories: the works published in Germany, 1807-1808, and those published in England, probably between 1813 and 1825. Only the works published in Germany have opus numbers. All of these seem to have been published in English editions as well.
The number of pieces by Saust (16 different titles) and the extreme ornateness of the style (with many passages of apparently free ornamentation) would seem to confirm the words of James regarding Saust's performing style – that is, elegant in the extreme, full of freedom in his graces, and avoiding the sort of athleticism in passagework that can be found in the music of his contemporary Drouet, for example. Although James notes that Saust's compositions are "not numerous" (and indeed they are not, compared to flutist-composers like Drouet and Fürstenau with longer careers), there are certainly plenty of important works to be rescued among the various publications by Saust issued in the first three decades of the nineteenth century. Although Leonardo de Lorenzo gives a tentative date (1845?) and place of death, I am not aware of any other documentation for this. Like so many other performing musicians, Saust seems to have faded into oblivion (and probably poverty) after his final works were published. Since then not a single work that I am aware of has been republished in modern edition. His name and creative work deserve better.