Just in: ‘Rock star’ wins top flute prize

Just in: ‘Rock star’ wins top flute prize


norman lebrecht

September 13, 2015

He won the Nielsen, was shunned by Geneva (his home town), went on to claim the principal flute position at the Leipzig Gewandhaus and has now come top in the televised ARD competition, a German star-maker.

Sebastian Jacot may now consider himself the hottest flute on the continent.

His jagged progress signifies the difference between competitions that play safe – too many of those – and the few that dare to reach for the stars.

sebastian jacot2


  • Itsjtime says:

    Flute competition?
    When was the last time anyone went to a flute recital because they wanted to? The only people who go to flute competitions/recitals are their mothers and other flute players.

    Gimme more stories about people making too much money and more sex scandals.

    • Anon2 says:

      The “other flute player” thing is a pretty significant viewership. We are an enormous and very proactive audience internationally. There are also leagues of flute afficionados, professionals who simply enjoy hearing good flute playing. We’ve got huge flute associations in almost every country, online groups, social media pages and we all follow flute competitions religiously.

      An advantage to these online competitions is that because they are popular online and in social media, they get young music lovers involved. Especially when there are 3 good looking young guys as in ARD performing. Better that the teenaged girls are watching Sebastian Jacot than Miley Cyrus anyday.

      Azeem Ward, the California flute player who advertised his Senior Flute Recital online recently pulled in an audience of over 50,000, mostly Brits, watching online. Can you name any other instrument that could attract that many to a classical recital? Viewership figures for these major flute competitions are nearly as high,

      Don’t be ignorant and closed minded. Do you think that pianists and violinists are the only ones entitled to have competitions? Yawn. Very old school.

      So if you don’t like flute competitions, don’t watch, but don’t be dissing the hundreds of thousands of us who enjoy them and also Norman’s up-to-the minute reporting.

      Geez, if you don’t like the flute, I’d hate to think what you thought of the ARD trombone competition which happened last week. . .

      Read the National Inquirer if you’re looking for thrills. Plenty of sex scandals there.

      • Robert Roy says:

        Yes, there’s nothing more wonderful than listening to the Brahms flute concerto, Beethoven flute concerto, Tchaikovsky flute concerto, Sibelius flute concerto, Mendelssohn flute concerto, Bruch flute concerto, Elgar flute concerto, Shostakovich flute concertos, Bartok flute concerto or the Schoenberg flute concerto.

        Still, at least Nielson wrote one…

        • Anon2 says:

          Let’s see – how about the 2 Mozart concerti, plus the Mozart concerto for flute and harp. But Mozart doesn’t count, right? Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, CPE Bach, Haydn, Telemann, Reinecke, Piston, Khatchatourian, Bernstein, Rodrigo, Ligeti, Boulez and so many more. Hell, just google it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flute_concerto

          Yeah I suppose if you’re stuck on that one particular era of romantic & classical composers, you might be out of luck with big flute rep. But we transcribe them all & they sound great. Try Denis Bouriakov’s recording of Sibelius. Awesome. And yes, Virginia, there IS a Tchaikovsky flute concerto.What rock have you been hiding under?

          Flute concerto rep has a far more interesting selection of 20th and 21st century composers than traditional competition instruments. Our concerto rep developed later and we are now making up for lost time! How many violin competitions do you hear where good 21st century works are required rep.?

          So sure, if you’re stuck on Beethoven and Brahms and warhorse concerto rep stick with piano and violin. But if you want cutting edge, new and exciting you will hear it at flute competitions!

        • Pianofortissimo says:

          Take the flutes out of these concertos, and we’ll see what happens.

          • Anon2 says:

            Yeah, take the piano out of Chopin and Lizst piano concertos and see what happens.

            As far as the overplayed warhorse concertos you mention, geez, even violinists cant stand the Mendelsohn these days – so overplayed, And Bruch, And Tchaik piano concerto., These are overplayed warhorses that no one is much interested in playing or listening to right now. Except maybe stalwart old farts like yourself.

        • William Safford says:

          Beethoven wrote a triple concerto for flute, bassoon, piano, and orchestra, Hess 13. Alas, the outer movements are lost, but the middle Romance Cantabile survives.

          I love the Corigliano Pied Piper Fantasy. The Lowell Lieberman is pretty good. The Ibert is cute. The Ligeti double concerto (flute + oboe) isn’t to my taste, even though I like much other of his music. I haven’t heard the Aho Concerto yet, but I’ve enjoyed other works of his. Francaix’s music is so often fun and witty. Etc.

      • da96103 says:

        Hi Anon2,

        Fellow flute student/player here. Thank you for your defence of flute playing and competition.

        For the flutophobics, there are so many flute classics.

        Imagine a quiet lazy afternoon with a faun, yes Debussy imagined it and composed “Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune”, an amazing work.

        How about Bach’s Badinerie and Mozart’s Flute Concerto no. 2, movement 3, which would be recognized by many and sometimes used to represent classical music to the layman.

        An aviary full of birds? Listen to Saint Saens’ Voliere in Carnival of the Animals, one flute playing the sound of many birds.

        You want to know how the word ‘mystery’ sounds like, try Debussy’s Syrinx.

        Beethoven though did not compose a flute concerto understands the amazing ability of the flute to depict the sound of Nightingale in Symphony no. 6 Pastoral (2nd movement).

        Cecile Chaminade (you may ask who?) is a pianist/composer. All her piano works are not played widely now, only her Flute Concertino is still popular till today.

        Piano and Violin have their own famous players, so does flute:
        Piano: Horowitz, Rubinstein, Argerich, Yundi etc
        Violin: Heifetz, Oistraikh, Vengorov, Bell, etc
        Flute: Moyse, Rampal, Galway, Robinson, Pahud, Choi, etc

    • Pamela Brown says:

      Oh dear, ITSJTIME, where is your joie de vivre?

      For many of us there is nothing more wonderful than listening to a flute. In fact, some of us eat, sleep and dream flute. 🙂

  • Andrew says:

    And if you want something a little more contemporary, Australian composer Matthew Hindson’s remarkable flute concerto, House Music, has just been released by Alexa Still with the Oberlin Orchestra under Raphael Jimenez.


  • MacroV says:

    Well, fine a player as he surely is, I’m guessing he auditioned and didn’t beat Mathieu Dufour for the Berlin Phil last year. So I’d think Dufour and Pahud are still the hottest flutists on the continent (though both now over 40). I would also argue that winning the Gewandhaus job is probably a bigger deal than winning the ARD, since it actually comes with a job for a prize. Look forward to hearing more of him, in any event.

  • esfir ross says:

    Went to Emil Pahud recital but Helen Grimaud stole the show

  • jk96 says:

    Why are there no news posts about the Singers Competitons? We have had the Wigmore Hall Final, the ARD Musikwettbewerb Gesang final (with some very strange finals choices!) the Montserat Caballe competition and the Lyla Gencer Voice Competition all in the last four days? Why are they not covered?