Léonie Sonning Awards 1978

Jean-Pierre Rampal

The flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize of DKK 100,000 at a concert held at 8pm on 24 April 1978 in Falkonér Teatret. 

The music prize was presented by Professor Poul Birkelund.

The programme

W.A. Mozart Overture to Il Re Pastore
  Flute Concerto
Erik Norby Illuminations. Capriccio for flute and orchestra. First performance.
J. S. Bach Suite no. 2 in B minor for flute, strings and harpsichord
  Sarabande (encore)

The Tivoli Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: John Frandsen


The Léonie Sonning Music Prize of DKK 100,000 is hereby awarded to mâitre Jean-Pierre Rampal in profound admiration of his highly beautiful and imaginative interpretation of flute works from all eras – including numerous present-day works dedicated to the most important flautist of our age.

Record release in connection with the awarding of the prize

Jean-Pierre Rampal recorded Erik Norby’s flute concerto ‘Illuminations’ and Carl Nielsen’s flute concerto with the Tivoli Symphony Orchestra (Erato 1979). The release has been financially supported by the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation.

Concerts in connection with the awarding of the prize

Jean-Pierre Rampal was soloist together with the flautist Michel Debost in a concert at Ny Carlsbergs Glyptotek on Friday, 28 April
Works were played by Händel, Bach, Cimarosa, Jolivet and Gluck.
Also taking part: Chamber Orchestra of the Royal Danish Academy of Music
Conductor: Milan Vitek

Jean-Pierre Rampal took part in a concert at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek on Sunday, 30 April at 11am.
Music was played by Holmboe, Paisiello, Telemann, Ibert, Honegger, Debussy, Doppler and Boismortier.
Also taking part: Poul Birkelund Quartet, Eyvind Møller, Kuhlau Quartet.

Rampal and Denmark

Naturally, it was the flautist Poul Birkelund himself who spoke to Jean-Pierre Rampal, referring to him as the most important flautist of our ageand interpreter of flute works of all eras.

The joy at being able to hand over the music prize to his former teacher was clearly visible in Birkelund, himself the greatest Danish flautist of his age, and in his speech on handing over the prize he said, among other things:

"After the piano, the flute is one of the instruments for which most works have been composed down through the various eras of musical history, probably because it can best compete with the marvel of the human voice."

"German, Dutch and a few Danish masters of the flute – such as Joachim Andersen, who is a flautist and composer still remembered today – have in former times travelled the world as virtuosos, but it is the greatest French masters of the instrument, such as Paul Taffanel, Philippe Gaubert and Marcel Moyse, who over the past century have created the great French tradition of flute music in our age [...] This tradition you, Jean-Pierre Rampal, flute maestro of our age, have continued in most beautiful fashion. Not only have you with your golden flute laid the audiences of five continents at your feet, you have also, as the most persevering interpreter of our time, gilded the works of an enormous number of present-day composers with your noble musical mind, incredible sense of beauty and imagination."

"King Frederick the Great was once a respected flautist – Jean-Pierre Rampal is the present-day king of the flute."

The next morning, Rampal travelled to France, where he had a binding contract to play at a concert on Tuesday evening in Paris, but on Wednesday morning he landed again in Copenhagen. The festivities in connection with the Sonning Prize were not over yet! For that Wednesday Jean-Pierre Rampal was to have rehearsals with the Chamber Orchestra of the Royal Danish Academy of Music, and in the late afternoon there was a reception at Copenhagen City Hall, where those from Danish musical life who had been invited paid their tribute to Rampal one more time.

Poul Birkelund had been in Nice to organise everything with Rampal, also the concerts that followed the prize-giving concert. Birkelund had invited a second master flautist to Denmark along with Rampal: Michel Debost, the solo flautist in the Orchestre de Paris who four years later was to succeed Rampal as flute professor at the Paris Conservatoire. Debost gave a master class at The Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen for two weeks – and the idea was that the two French musicians should play together.

This they did at the Musicians Foundation concert at Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket on Friday 28 April, where Milan Vitek conducted the Chamber Orchestra of the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 4, Cimarosa’s concerto for two flutes with Rampal and Debost as soloists, and Jolivet’s flute concerto.

On Saturday afternoon, the entire concert was repeated with Rampal and Debost at Egeskov Castle, and on Sunday morning there was yet another concert in Copenhagen – once again at Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket, this time with the Birkelund Quartet.

Jean-Pierre Rampal also took part in a morning concert at Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket on Sunday, 30 April at 11am. Here he played together with the Poul Birkelund Quartet, Eyvind Møller and the Kuhlau Quartet – music by Holmboe, Paisiello, Telemann, Ibert, Honegger, Debussy, Doppler and Boismortier.

Selected Music by Jean-Pierre Rampal

The daily press

wrote, among other things:

"[…] In my opinion, the highlight of the evening was the encore, when Jean-Pierre Rampal, completely alone with his flute in front of the audience of more than a thousand people, repaid with interest for the applause. With the few, simple notes Bach uses to draw the contours of a floating, ethereal Sarabande, Jean-Pierre Rampal was able to give the most magical experience art can produce – to make time stand still.

Jean-Pierre Rampal was naturally fantastic at realising the solo voice [in Norby’s flute concerto], and at the same time he was modest enough not to overplay his role but content himself with colouring, shedding new light on the orchestral presentation. It was a pleasure to hear this piece."

(Jurij Moskvitin, Politiken, 26 April 1978)

"It is not only as a visiting soloist that Rampal has made his mark on Danish musical life. He is an inspiring teacher as well, and a number of young Danish flautists have gained crucial insights from him. One of them is Aalborg City Orchestra’s Bo Juul Christiansen, who spoke of one very special lesson with the maestro. They had been in Nice for a few days, and on their way back to Paris in Rampal’s small Fiat his Danish pupil was playing, and was interrupted by: ‘Just hold the wheel for a bit, and I’ll show you how I think it could be played!’"

(John Christiansen, Jyllands-Posten, 26 April 1978)