A Centennial Concert was given on July 14, 2012 for the renowned French flutist, pianist, teacher and composer, Louis Moyse (August 14, 1912 – July 30, 2007) in his home village of St. Amour, France. Later, a resident of Brattleboro and then, Montpelier, Vermont, he was co-founder of The Marlboro Music Festival and the Brattleboro Music Center.
Janet, his wife of nearly 40 years, collaborated with others both in the U.S. and in France to have this concert come to fruition. A dozen of his students convened from all over the world to perform this concert in his memory. The program included music composed and arranged by Louis Moyse during his 75-year-long career.
As one of Louis’ long-time students performing on the concert, I’ve written a letter to Louis on what would have been his 100th birthday and am sharing it here. — Rebecca Cochran
I felt your presence everywhere in St. Amour during our stay.
I felt it the minute I arrived at the quaint train station, remembering when you and Janet greeted me there for my very first visit for your international master class in 1999. I felt it every time I looked up at the spire of the Eglise de St. Amour, since your drawings of it appear in so many of your exercise books I still play from to this day. I felt your presence when I passed by the old, now closed, Hotel de la Gare where I enjoyed a pastis with you on the terrace many afternoons following class. And, most notably, I felt your presence when we performed your arrangement of the Gaubert, “Madrigal” in concert for the village of St. Amour on Bastille Day.
Flash back with me to your Montpelier master class in July of 2000. The first piece that I played during that class was one I’d never worked on before. In fact, I knew little about the piece. I don’t believe I’d ever heard it played before (and I’d been attending your master classes since the late 1970s.) It was a piece I’d found in a music store almost as if by chance. It was “Madrigal” for flute and piano by Philippe Gaubert.
Of course, Gaubert was your teacher at the Paris Conservatory during the 1930s. I recall you speaking glowingly about Gaubert, his playing, his personality, his teaching and his compositions. I just had never heard you mention the “Madrigal” before.
I had rehearsed the piece the evening before with the class pianist. When it was my turn to play in class that day, we just launched into the piece without announcing it. It was that kind of piece — a madrigal, or song — in that gentle French style, but with sweeping brushstrokes of color and emotion. The piece ends very quietly, again very French-like, with the flutist tapering the last note to a pianissimo. After a few seconds of silence, you looked at me and said, “Thank you, dear. I haven’t heard that piece in 60 years. I’d forgotten it existed.”
When we played the “Madrigal” in St. Amour in your honor last month, I felt you there with us. It was as if you were in several places at the same time. You were on the stage with us, invisibly conducting in your exuberant way. You were in the audience, seated next to Janet, the love of your life, beaming and holding her hand. And, you were way up in the balcony, towering above the audience, enjoying every moment of your return visit to your beloved St. Amour!
Thank you, Louis. Happy birthday, Louis. The entire concert was magical, but I’ll always remember the “Madrigal.” And, your presence will be with us forever.