A world-renowned flutist and conductor known for bringing the flute back to the high position it held in the 18th century. Jean-Pierre Rampal has made history by being the first flutist to attract worldwide audiences comparable to that of virtuoso pianists and string players. Although championed as a baroque music player, his programs range from the 17th century to the present day and include such styles as jazz, English folk songs, Japanese classics, and the music of India.
Jean-Pierre Rampal was born January 7, 1922 in Marseilles, France to a flutist father. His father was first flutist with the Symphony and the first flute professor at the Conservatory. Rampal's father gave him flute lessons at an early age, but never forced or encouraged his son to become a professional flutist, a decision he reached during World War II. Rampal was in medical school when the Nazis drafted him; instead of complying with the Nazi forces, he went underground and eventually ended up in Paris. At Paris, Jean-Pierre Rampal attended the National Conservatory, graduating five months later with first prize in flute playing. Upon graduating, he became the first flutist with the Paris Opera, performed solo recitals on the radio, and toured Europe with harpsichordist Robert Veryon-Lacroix.
As a conductor and soloist, Jean-Pierre Rampal has played with many orchestras, including the New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, Indianapolis, Houston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Diego and Cincinnati Symphonies. He performs recitals coast-to-coast at all the major halls and colleges and universities across the United States. During the span of his career he has also performed at such festivals as New York's Mozart festivals, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Saratoga and Meadowbrook.
Two of Jean-Pierre's closest friends and collaborators, Isaac Stern and Mstislav Rostropovich, have performed with him at Lincoln Center and produced a disc of the trio on the Sony Classical label. Recording for Sony Classical, Jean-Pierre Rampal has released Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and In Concert with Kathleen Battle, Italian Baroque Flute Concertos and Music for Flute and Harp with Marielle Nordmann. Rampal's musical genius has not gone unnoticed, as contemporary composers Jean Francaix, Andre Jolivet, Jean Martinon, Francis Poulenc and Pierre Boulez have all dedicated works to the flutist.
During the course of his career, Jean-Pierre Rampal has been distinguished with many honors, including the Leonie, the Sonning Prize, the Prix du President de la Republique and the Academie Charlos Cros for his discography in 1990. He was also made a Commandeur de la Legion d'Honneur, an Officer des Arts et des Lettres, and a Commandeur de l'Ordre National de Merite in France.
Besides being a famous soloist and conductor, he added another accomplishment in 1989, when his autobiography, Music, My Love, was published by Random House. ~ Kim Summers