Robert Bigio flute pages
Articles on the flute
Christopher Steward’s early flute recordings
By Bernard Duplaix
Translated by Robert Bigio
Fernand Caratgé (1902–1991) was born in Béziers. He
studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Philippe
Gaubert at the same time as Robert Hériché and Lucien
Lavaillotte and obtained his Premier Prix in 1924,
playing Incantation et Danse by Marc Delmas. A review
from the 1920s said he had '…a charming and
distinguished sound, great virtuosity and sense of the
After a period of freelance playing, during which he
travelled widely, he was for a time first flute in an
orchestra in Bucharest before returning to France as
first flute in the Lamoureux Orchestra (from 1935 to
1962). He was also a member of the orchestra of the
Opéra Comique from 1951 to 1968. In 1942 he
succeeded René Le Roy in the Ars Rediviva Ensemble,
directed by the harpsichordist Claude Crussard.
Following a tragic airplane accident in 1947 in which the other members of the ensemble lost
their lives, Caratgé formed a new ensemble, of which he became director.
Caratgé was for many years an admirer of the flutes of the great Paris flute maker Louis Lot
and in 1951 became the man who tested all the instruments made by Marigaux, the firm that
purchased the Louis Lot name.
Fernand Caratgé's recording career began in the 78 RPM era. His output was modest but
included some important recordings.
Caratgé was assistant to Gaston Crunelle at the Paris Conservatoire from 1951 to 1969, where
his students included Pierre Yves Artaud, William Bennett, Roger Bourdin, Adrian Brett,
Peter Lloyd, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Günther Rumpel. Many young flute players consulted
Caratgé on performances of Bach, which was a particular specialty of his. He was a
committed teacher who produced editions of music for the Paris publisher Alphonse Leduc,
including an important revision of the flute method of Henry Altès, published in 1956.
Caratgé taught the flute at the École Normale de Musique de Paris to an advanced age where
he inspired his students with his extraordinary knowledge of the repertoire. Fernand
Caratgé died in the Paris suburb of Villejuif in 1991.
Telemann: Quintette. (Second movement: Allegro).
Ars Rediviva Ensemble: Fernand Caratgé, flute;
Dominique Blot, violin; Françoise Selle, viola;
Jacqueline Heuclin, cello; Claude Crussard,
harpsichord. Recorded 28 July 1942.
Photograph of Fernand Caratgé courtesy
of Bernard Duplaix.