The Recueil d’Airs Variées Arrangées pour une Flute par les Meilleurs Auteurs
The Rita Benton Music Library of the University of Iowa holds, among its various treasures of music for the flute, a collection of sets of variations for the unaccompanied flute with the collective title of Recueil d’Airs Variées Arrangées pour une Flute par les Meilleurs Auteurs (Collection of Airs with Variations arranged for a Flute by the Best Authors), of which the library holds selections from the second and third books, the contents of which are numbered consecutively and paginated consecutively (see the table of contents below), and for which, oddly enough, the publishers are not the same for all the items in the set.
No other library worldwide seems to have items that would fill out or complete the collection (there is no sign of a first book, for example). The price is given as 6 francs on the two collective title pages, but the items were clearly sold individually with prices varying from 1 franc 50 centimes to 1 franc 80 centimes depending on the number of pages. No dates are present on the title pages or the individual items.
Nos. 12, 16, and 17, published by Imbault, refer to him as musician of the Chapel of his Majesty the Emperor. No. 19, also published by Imbault, lacks this information. This helps to pin down the likely publication for the set, which was likely to have been issued between 1800 (the date of Boieldieu’s Calife de Bagdad), and the date at which Imbault’s business was sold to Janet, that is, 1812. This transfer explains why some volumes give Imbault as publisher, and others by Janet and Cotelle (founded 1810), who are “merchants of music to the King and the Royal Family”, presumably to Louis XVIII, after the restoration of 1814.
Table of Contents
no. 10. Te bien aimer o ma chere Zélie! : romance de plantade / variée pour la flute par E. Gebauer (A Paris : Chez Janet et Cotelle) ;
no. 11. Ma Zétulbé : thême de Martini / varié pour la flûte par A. Bonnet (Au magasin de musique de Ph. Petit) ;
no. 12. Menuet de la reine :avec des variations pour la flute / par A. Vanderhagen (A Paris : Chez Imbault)
3e livre. no. 13. La biondina : barcarolle / variée pour la flute par E. Gebauer (A Paris : Chez Janet et Cotelle) ;
no. 14. Air varié pour flûte seule / par Drouet (A Paris : Chez Janet et Cotelle) ;
no. 15. Air varié pour la flûte / composé par Philibert Bron ;
no. 16. La walze russe : avec des variations pour la flute / par A. Venderhagen (A Paris : Chez Imbault) ;
no. 17. Gavotte de vestris dans panurge : avec des variations pour la flute / par A. Venderhagen (A Paris : Chez Imbault) ;
no. 18. Partant pour la syrie : romance / variée pour la flute par Amand Vanderhagen (A Paris : Chez Janet et Cotelle) ;
no. 19. Les folies d'Espagne variées pour la flute traversiere (A Paris : Chez Imbault) ;
no. 20. Que ne suis-je la fougere / varié pour la flute par E. Gebauer (A Paris : Chez Janet et Cotelle).
Notes on the composers:
A. Bonnet (no. 11)
Philibert Bron (no. 15)
Drouet (no. 14)
Etienne Gebauer (nos. 10, 13, 20)
Amand Vanderhagen (nos. 12, 16, 17, 18)
Anon. (no. 19)
Nothing is known about A. Bonnet (a Jean-Baptiste Bonnet, a noted violinist, was born in 1763, in Montauban, France). The only contemporaneous “Philbert Bron” is a Belgian artist, Philibert Bron, 1791-1870, who would certainly be old enough to have composed the set of variations included here. Philibert Bron is also credited with the music for a song published in the periodical Amphion, second year, ca. 1826, though the music has been arranged for the guitar by a P. Nacher1. The remaining three composers are much better-known.
Louis Drouet (1792-1823) was one of the leading flutists and composers for the flute in the first half of the nineteenth century. He toured extensively, including a visit to New York, and left an immense body of works for his instrument, arriving at opus numbers in the 600s, with the earliest works published shortly before 1820. The work included here is thus one of his earliest, if indeed it was published around or before 1812.
Etienne Gebauer (1776-1823) belongs to an extensive family of musicians, apparently of Swiss origin, but active in France at least from 1767 on. Etienne was the youngest of at least four brothers, sons of Christian Gebauer, a hornist at Versailles. The eldest, Michel Joseph, was an oboist, and traveled with Napoleon’s campaign to Russia. He died in the retreat from Moscow. Francois Rene was a bassoonist and composer, a professor at the Conservatory in Paris, and produced a large body of works for winds, as well as a bassoon method. Pierre Paul, a hornist, died young, but left a set of horn duets. Etienne studied with his oldest brother, Michel Joseph, as well as with Antoine Hugot, and left numerous works for unaccompanied flute. His son, also Michel Joseph, was a violist and composer, producing a viola method.
Amand Vanderhagen (1753-1822) was principally a clarinetist, and produced a method for that instrument, but also left methods for oboe and flute, as well as a large body of chamber music for winds, including a set of variations for solo clarinet on the same tune varied here (Partant pour la Syrie).