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Christopher Steward’s early flute recordings
Frances Blaisdell By Nancy Toff Frances Blaisdell, a legend among American flute players, died on 11 March 2009 in Portola Valley, California at the age of 97. As a teenager, Blaisdell studied with Ernest Wagner of the New York Philharmonic and in 1928 began her studies with Georges Barrère, first at the Institute of Musical Art and then at the Juilliard Graduate School. Considered his protegée, she made frequent duo appearances with him and, after he had a stroke in 1941, he chose her to take his place in the Barrère Trio. She later studied with Marcel Moyse and William Kincaid. Although she was principal flute of the National Orchestral Association, a training orchestra conducted by Leon Barzin, she found that an orchestral career was not a possibility for a woman in that era, and instead forged a successful career as a soloist and chamber musician. She made her solo debut with the New York Philharmonic at a children’s concert in 1932, playing the Mozart D major concerto, and also appeared as soloist at Radio City Music Hall. She formed the Blaisdell Woodwind Quintet, whose other four members were all members of the New York Philharmonic (including clarinettist Alexander Williams, whom she married in 1937), as well as the Blaisdell Trio of New York and various other ensembles. She also played with the New Friends of Music, the Bach Circle, on Broadway and as accompanist to Lily Pons. Blaisdell did find orchestral positions as principal flute in the Phil Spitalny All Girls Band and the women’s orchestras conducted by Ethel Leginska and Antonio Brico, and later was principal flute of the New York City Ballet. In the 1960s Frances Blaisdell became the first woman wind player to perform with the New York Philharmonic—as an ‘extra man’. Blaisdell taught for many years at the Manhattan and Mannes schools of music and New York University. In 1973 she ‘retired’ to California, where she accepted an interim appointment as flute teacher at Stanford University. She continued teaching there until two months before her death, and in 2006 received the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Outstanding Service to Undergraduate Education. She is, in fact, best known for passing on the French tradition as the teacher of several generations of American flute students. Chamber Music magazine wrote in 1992, ‘Every woman flute player in every major American orchestra, every little girl who pays the flute in a school band, has Frances Blaisdell to thank. She was first.’ In 1992 the National Flute Association named Frances Blaisdell an honorary member, and two years later it honoured her with its Lifetime Achievement Award. © Nancy Toff 2009. (This obituary was first published in Pan, the Journal of the British Flute Society, June 2009.) Photograph of Frances Blaisdell by Bruno of Hollywood, courtesy of Nancy Toff.
J.S. Bach: Concerto in A minor BWV 1044 (first movement). Frances Blaisdell, flute; William Kroll, violin; Yella Pessl, harpsichord; unnamed string orchestra conducted by Carl Bamberger. Recording made in 1938.
Back to main recordings page Richard Adeney John Amadio Julius Baker Clement Barone Georges Barrère Frances Blaisdell Heinz Breiden Fernand Caratgé Gaston Crunelle Leonardo De Lorenzo Léon Fontbonne Albert Fransella Philippe Gaubert Geoffrey Gilbert Adolphe Hennebains Eli Hudson Gilbert Jespersen Edward de Jong William Kincaid Georges Laurent Lucien Lavaillotte René Le Roy Marshall Lufsky Darius Lyons Gareth Morris Marcel Moyse Jean Nada Josef Niedermayr Edith Penville Jean-Pierre Rampal Robert Murchie Gustav Scheck Arrigo Tassinari Friedrich Thomas Edward Walker Gordon Walker
Use the second player if your system does not support Flash. Frances Blaisdell Frances Blaisdell