What inspired you to play the flute?
As a little schoolboy I played treble recorder like everybody. By looking for a real instrument my parents proposed a “real flute” a Böhm-flute.
Who were your musical inspirations?
I listened to my mother who was a singer. Later on I found my ideal in many great musicians, for example the violoncellist Pao Casals or the pianist Edwin Fischer. My idol as flutist was a man I have never met or heard. He was not even alive anymore. He existed only in my imagination : Philippe Gaubert.
What Flute do you play?
During my career I played many different instruments (Italian, French, German, American, Japanese). However, by listening my recordings I wouldnâ€™t be able to tell you which instrument I have used…! Nowadays, I am playing a gold Yamaha flute.
How do you keep yourself interested in practicing and playing these days?
First by searching to find the right expression for the music I am going to play. Second by trying to acquire the necessary instrumental means. This never ends … What was the inspiration for your pedagogical books (Check- up, Interpretation, The Singing Flute and Study with Style)? My experience as a teacher.
How has the flute world changed since you were a student?
Let me just name three facts: 1. At the time you mentioned (end of the forties of the last century) there was, I think, only one great city in the world where you could find an excellent flutist in every orchestra â€” Paris! Nowadays you will find good flutists around the whole world. There playing is generally on a high instrumental level, although perhaps less personally varied. 2. When I won the prize of the Munich ARD competition in 1953 there were about 30 applicants, and some four or five of them were really good players. In 2015 at about 270 applied for the competition. I had to judge 60 who were admitted to play and all of them were very good. 3. I studied in the conservatoriesof Zurich and Paris. In both of these places there was just one female flutist. What a difference nowadays…!
Do you prepare students for orchestral auditions and what is your philosophy for this kind of preparation?
I have never prepared my students especially for auditions, that means I never handled this theme. Times have changed. Before I joined the Winterthur symphony orchestra as solo flute in 1950 I had only played just half a dozen orchestral parts – the ones in Taffanels’ method…!
What advice would you give to young flute players graduating from music conservatoires now?
Be flexible, be ready for everything; play piccolo, play traverso, enjoy teaching! If you have the chance to earn your living by making music don’t forget it is a privilege!
Peter-Lukas Graf Discography: Flute Solo
Telos Music TLS 026
Ex Libris CD 6039
The 5 authentic sonatas (Aglaia Graf)
(Schubert, Widor, Martinu, Poulenc)
(Reinecke, Milhaud, Hindemith, Martin, Prokofiev)
(Chaminade HÃ¼e, Enesco, Gaubert a.o.)
(Bach, Schubert, Mozart)
(Bach, Chopin, Ibert, Mozart, Ravel, Villa-Lobos a.o.)
(Rossini, Donizetti, Spohr, Paganini, FaurÃ©, Lauber)
Debussy (Sonate No 2)
Ravel (Introduction et Allegro)
J.S.Bach, Kuhlau, Doppler)
Beethoven: Triosonata G-Major fl/fg/p -woO 37,
Serenade D-Major fl/v/vla op 25
Krommer: 3 fl-quartets op. 17/92/93; Prix Choc Paris
Mozart: 4 quartets/Carmina
Ex Libris CD-6087
No 1 G-Major/No 2 A-Major
No 4 B-Major/No 6 D-Major
Flute and Orchestra
J.S. Bach: Musical Offering
Martin, Ravel and Roussel (K. Graf, soprano)
Bach, Haendel, Quantz, Couperin, Vivaldi and Lotti
I had the good fortune whilst still at a special music school to meet composers and literally ‘grow up with them’, so that contemporary music was a natural part of my background. When I was 15, my classmate John Rausek wrote a piece dedicated to me. Later on I developed a close relationship to the composition…
Do you approach learning contemporary music with the same principles as for something earlier? Yes, of course! I never make differences between the 'repertoire' and the new pieces, and maybe this approach makes it new and refreshing. I play a lot of contemporary music...
Who were your main musical influences? I had two main influences outside my college life, which were William Bennett and Geoffrey Gilbert. I would meet up with them even year at the international summer school where I was a student at first, and then I taught on it...
How did your musical journey begin? I went to the Royal Academy of Music with the intention of studying with William Bennett who had inspired me to apply there. For my first year I had lessons with his wife Michie who took me back to the basics of Taffanel &...
What do you think makes a great orchestral player? It is impossible to separate most of those critical characteristics from those of a great soloist, chamber musician or session musician. The fundamentals are universal and without them, no musician can function at a...
First Flute of the English National Opera: Part - 2 Advice for Students and Young Players As your studying and professional playing overlapped, what did you find to be the main differences between playing with student orchestras and professional orchestras?...
First Flute of the English National Opera What is your favourite opera that you have played so far and why? It’s very difficult to decide on a favourite; everything that I’ve played so far has had such different qualities and assets that to just...