I have just heard via Norman Lebrecht of the death of the great flautist Claude Monteux.

I reproduce here the email from his official website breaking this news:

Dear Friends and Family, 

Claude Monteux breathed his last this morning, after living a complete life, at age 92.  He died peacefully near his son, in Sacramento, California.

Claude was born in the United States in 1920. The first years of his life were spent in Paris where he became an accomplished pianist. His mother, browsing through a Readers Digest, saw an advertisement for a new music program at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. It is there that he heard the flute solo from Brahms 4th for the first time, when his father, Pierre Monteux, toured with the Boston Symphony.  He was so moved by the solo, he decided to play the flute.

He studied flute exclusively with George Laurent, Principle Flute of the Boston Symphony. Claude’s flute is one the very first handmade Powells.

After working as a translator during WW2, Claude settled into the life of a working musician. He was the principal flute in many symphony orchestras, worked in NY shows, was the assistant conductor of the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo, Conductor and Artistic Director of the Hudson Valley Symphony, soloed with the London Symphony and St. Martins in the Fields, taught at the New England Conservatory of Music and at San Diego State University, hosted summer flute retreats in Maine, and made some of the first recordings ever…on wax. Claude was the first person to bring Jean-Pierre Rampal to New York in 1963.

I met Claude on the Flutelist, after he took me to task for my Top Ten Flutists list (the usual characters were absent). I explained that the players on my list are both exceptional players, and people who have a broader use for their talent –towards using their Art to do good things in the world. He invited me for coffee. After three years of intensely wonderful time spent with Claude, I have bumped him to the top of my list. Claude knew how to pull my playing together in magical ways, and asked only for my friendship in return. Always a teacher, he taught me to have the courage to sit with him near the very end. Like many of his dedicated students, I will keep his memory and teachings alive.

No services will be held. He requests only that his remains be placed next to his wife Mary, in his beloved Maine.


Elizabeth Gaston–Abell flutes, San Francisco, CA 

These pages are dedicated to Claude Monteux, who was my teacher, mentor and friend.  A good teacher teaches you not only his main subject, but also about being a good person and giving something back to the world. He also doesn’t just teach you “technique”… but the importance of playing with feeling, or in Claude’s  own words as he conducted:  “Play with Love!”   I visited Claude a few years ago in San Diego, and he is still as handsome, charming and talented as ever! I know he’d love to hear about where you are and what you are doing, so if you are a former student or peer, please leave him a message in his guestbook below so he can read all about your progress in the music world or just life in general, and to say hello!  Please take the time to listen to the entire jukebox below.  Never have I heard another flutist make the flute “talk” as Claude could with so pure a tone and such nuance; and yet, he has never been recognized for his great talent as he should have been.  But that is my own personal observation… He gave me the gift of playing with feeling… Geri Rizzo

The distinguished flautist and conductor, Claude Monteux, son of the late Pierre Monteux, was born in Brookline, Mass. In 1920, but studied in France till the age of 17.  As a flutist he has appeared throughout Europe and America, occasionally performing the dual role of soloist and conductor, and in command performance at the White House.  After three years as conductor of the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra, he became permanent conductor and musical director of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Society and in this capacity received the New York State Award in 1968 for his work in building the society’s orchestra to the highest professional standards.  In addition, Claude Monteux has guest-conducted many of Europe’s leading orchestras and has won wide respect as a teacher in both the United States and Canada.

Here is a clip of his playing (Gluck’s Minuet and Dance of the Blessed Spirits, with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by his father Pierre Monteux):