Death of ‘greatest’ modern flute player

Death of ‘greatest’ modern flute player


norman lebrecht

January 30, 2016

Aurèle Nicolet, the Swiss flautist, died yesterday in Switzerland, a week after his 90th birthday.

He was among the foremost 20th century champions of new music for the flute.

Among the composers who wrote for him were Takemitsu, Ligeti, Denisov and Krzystof Meyer.

From 1950 to 1959, Aurèle was principal flute of the Berlin Philharmonic under Furtwängler and Karajan.

aurele nicolet


  • Felipe Tristan says:

    Undoubtedly the greatest recordings of staple works in the modern repertoire for the flute. Frank Martin’s “Ballade”, for example.

    Thanks for sharing!

    RIP, Aurèle NICOLET.

  • Anthony Kershaw says:

    His Martin Ballade is the single greatest flute performance I know. How he manipulates his already stunning sound is beyond me.

    He tops our list of greatest Bach Sonatas, too, over at

    A genius flutist with a totally unique sound. And by far my favourite.

  • Roberto says:

    I also enjoyed his playing immensely.

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    A great Flautist. Sublime player.

    He was first and formeost a musician. Perhaps the antithesis of Jimmy Galway, a fellow prinicipal flute of the Berlin Phil, who is a stunning virtuoso above all.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Very apt distinction. Who do we go for – Galway or Nicolet? Discuss…

      • David Laraway says:

        Personally, I’ve always put a comparison between Rampal and Galway, with Rampal being more of the virtuoso and Galway being more of the musician.

        • Mishugina says:

          David Laraway are you sure you didnt mess up the names? Everyone knows Rampal is foremost more of a musician than a virtuoso, in spite of his fabulous technique.

      • Max Grimm says:

        At the risk of being flamed to death…to me personally, a Galway is an exciting, fulfilling one-night stand and a Nicolet is falling in love, getting married and spending ones lives together.

  • Bruce says:

    Also the teacher of many, many accomplished flutists, including Emmanuel Pahud.

    From Pahud’s website: “He acknowledges achieving both the first prize at le Concours International de Genève and being appointed for the position at the age of 22 by BPO’s conductor, Claudio Abbado to his experience with Nicolet. ”

  • Chelsea Colbert says:

    I have never heard Flute like this before. Absolutely breathtaking and riveting!