Fantaisie brillante sur 'Carmen, part 1
In this masterclass for flute, Professor Philippe Bernold, and student Xinmeng Zhou work on an adaptation of Bizet’s opera Carmen by François Borne.
Bernold first instructs his student to tune her flute with the piano. He then explains that there are many episodes and emotions in this opera, and that the flautist must know what episode they are playing while expressing the intended emotions. Technically, Zhou is told to pay attention to the sixth interval, much like in works by Mozart. Likewise, the young student must pay attention to her breathing and inhale deeply. With this, Bernold also explains that a piece like this requires anticipation when it comes to breathing.
Additionally, the student is advised to focus on the main theme, and to work on her articulation. Bernold explains that she must think about putting some “glue” between the notes and to integrate the many nuances of the piece.
Evoking the emotional range of the piece.
Respecting the written nuances.
Preparing oneself ahead of time.
Adding “glue” between the notes.
It is believed that François Borne composed his Fantaisie brillante sur 'Carmen' around 1880, though very little is known about the composer’s life and career. The modern Boehm flute, which increased the technical capabilities of the flute and allowed performers to project with a greater quality and volume of sound, was only a few decades old at this point. This virtuosic work is one of the first pieces to explore the new possibilities of this flute. Borne worked as an opera flautist, so it is unsurprising that he chose to create a piece based on the opera Carmen, which first premiered in Paris in 1875. The opera tells the story of a Gypsy woman by the same name who seduces a young soldier named Don José, causing him to abandon his job and his betrothed. Carmen eventually leaves him for another man, enraging Don José so deeply that he murders her. Fantaisie brillante sur 'Carmen' incorporates several popular themes from the opera, including the “fate” motive, which serves as foreshadowing of the tragic ending throughout the opera, the “Habanera,” the famous flirtatious dance from Carmen’s entrance scene, and the “March of the Toreadors,” which captures the energy and excitement from a bullfight. While the accompaniment orchestra elicits the highly dramatic and colorful spirit of the opera, the flute engages in beautiful melodies and highly technical variations on the beloved themes.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this masterclass for flute. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Philippe Bernold’s feedback and comments.
In 1987 he won First Prize in the Jean-Pierre Rampal International Competition in Paris.
Philippe Bernold began his musical education in Colmar, France, studying the flute and later composition and conducting under the tutelage of René Matter. Later, he attended the National Paris Conservatoire where his notable skill was recognized and earned him First Prize in flute. The following year at only 23-years-old, Bernold was appointed first flute at the Opéra National de Lyon. After winning First Prize at the Jean-Pierre Rampal International Competition in Paris, Bernold was able to launch a successful career as a soloist, performing with world famous artists such as: M. Rostropovitch, R. Capuçon, G. Opitz, and A. Tharaud; as well as with many widely-acclaimed orchestras including the Paris Orchestra, Manchester Hallé Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, National Orchestra of Lyon, Tokyo and Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, among many more. The accomplished flautist has been directed by highly esteemed conductors including: S. Bychkov, J. E. Gardiner, L. Maazel, K. Nagano, Sir Y. Menuhin, M. Inoué, and T. Koopman. He has performed in concert halls worldwide including but not limited to the Royal Festival Hall in London, Warsaw Philharmonic, the Seoul Art Center in South Korea, and Tchaïkovsky Conservatory in Moscow. Years later, Philippe Bernold returned to conducting after founding “Les Virtuoses de l’Opéra de Lyon.” After its formation, the ensemble was lauded for its high level of artistry. Since then, he has been invited to conduct concerts with such ensembles including the Sinfonia Varsovia, Bilbao, the National Opera Orchestra of Lyon, Baden Baden Philharmonie, Orchestre de chambre de Paris, Philharmonic Orchestra of Marseille, Kanazawa Ensemble (Japan), and more. Additionally, Philippe Bernold has made many accomplished recordings. Most notably, Bernard was the recipient of the Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros for his very first recording in 1989. Philippe Bernold is Professor of Chamber Music and flute at the National Paris Conservatoire.
François Borne (1840-1920) was a French flautist, composer, and professor. Though there is not much information available about his life, it is known that he was born in Toulouse, France. He likely worked closely with French pedagogue and flutist Paul Taffanel at some point in his life, but it is unclear whether that was as a student or a colleague. Borne worked as a flautist in the opera orchestra at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux and taught at the Conservatoire de Musique de Toulouse. He was born just as the modern Boehm flute was developed, allowing him to become its champion. He is attributed with making modifications to Boehm’s instrument in order to increase its technical possibilities, and he also wrote music that allowed performers to showcase the flute’s new capabilities. With more ease of technique and greater quality and volume of sound, more virtuosic and expressive music was available to the instrument. One such example is Borne’s Fantasie Brillante on Themes from Bizet's Carmen, which presents and varies some of the most popular music from Bizet’s famous opera. There is little else known about Borne’s life; nonetheless, flautists will always thank Borne for his contributions to both the instrument and to the instrument’s Romantic era repertoire.