Paris Conservatoire Contest Pieces for Bassoon

The Paris Con­ser­va­toire has, through its annu­al con­cours (con­test), added a great num­ber of works to the bassoon’s solo reper­toire. Recent­ly, I found myself won­der­ing how many of these works have been uploaded to IMSLP. I start­ed my search by pulling one of the great bas­soon ref­er­ence works off my shelf: Kris­tine Fletcher’s book The Paris Con­ser­va­toire and the Con­test Solos for Bas­soon (Bloom­ing­ton, IN: Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1988). I was lucky enough to buy one of Dr. Fletcher’s last extra copies when I was in grad school, but it’s dif­fi­cult to get your hands on today, out­side of uni­ver­si­ty libraries. I made myself a spread­sheet of all the con­test pieces, and set about search­ing IMSLP and copy­ing links for pieces that have been post­ed there. Part­way through this task, I real­ized that what I was cre­at­ing had the poten­tial to be of great use to oth­ers. So, I’m post­ing it on my site today.

When I ini­tial­ly checked IMSLP, only a dozen of these works (not count­ing Mozart, Vival­di, and Weber) were avail­able. I’ve uploaded an addi­tion­al 4 pieces by Eugène Jan­court over the last week or so, and have one by Hen­ri Büss­er in process. Some of the 19th-cen­tu­ry works may nev­er have been pub­lished, and many of them have titles that are prob­a­bly too gener­ic for pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion (e.g. “Con­cer­to”). But, there are still anoth­er 20+ pub­lished works out there that are poten­tial­ly in the pub­lic domain (at least in the US), and could be added. I’ll keep work­ing to track these down and make them avail­able. If you have orig­i­nal print­ings of any of them, please get in touch!

The table of con­test pieces needs a lit­tle extra space, so I’ve put it on its own page. You can get there either via the “Resources” tab above, or sim­ply by click­ing the image of the table below:

Table of Paris Conservatoire Contest Pieces

Paris Con­ser­va­toire Con­test Pieces—click to view the entire table

  • Graham

    July 26th, 2017

    Reply

    This very morn­ing I heard a Paris Con­ser­va­toire con­test piece for bas­soon, by Hen­ri Dutilleux.
    Apart from the com­po­si­tion being well suit­ed to the char­ac­ter and capa­bil­i­ties of the bas­soon, the music was both var­ied and inter­est­ing and, most impor­tant, enjoy­able for the audi­ence. I’d say, a ‘must’ for the reper­toire of any pro bas­soon­ist.

    http://www.ryedalefestival.com/index.php/2017-list/41-coffee-concert-amy-harman-bassoon-alasdair-beatson-piano

    • David A. Wells

      July 26th, 2017

      Reply

      Yes, Dutilleux’s Sara­bande et Cortège is one of my favorites from this group of pieces. Odd­ly, Dutilleux him­self didn’t like it — he con­sid­ered it a juve­nile work, and dis­avowed it.

  • James Irsay

    October 29th, 2017

    Reply

    Hi David,

    A late response to a July offer­ing: Once again I must com­mend you for post­ing fas­ci­nat­ing and valu­able infor­ma­tion to the online bas­soon com­mu­ni­ty. Your seri­ous approach and your enthu­si­asm are laud­able. I’m not a bas­soon­ist but still find your page extreme­ly inter­est­ing.

    There are some great books detail­ing the his­to­ry of the Paris Con­ser­va­toire, filled with the kind of infor­ma­tion you would love. For exam­ple, “His­toire du Con­ser­va­toire…” by Lass­abathie (1860), which cov­ers the years 1795–1859. In it, we see that the com­pos­er of the first com­pe­ti­tion piece you men­tion, in 1824, Auguste Rethaler, took a 2ème prix in bas­soon in 1823, as a stu­dent of Thomas Del­cam­bre. Tons more info in this book, which you prob­a­bly already know!

    Keep up the great work!

  • James Irsay

    October 29th, 2017

    Reply

    For­got to men­tion: Pierre Constant’s book has incred­i­bly detailed info regard­ing the com­pe­ti­tions, up to 1900.

    • David A. Wells

      October 30th, 2017

      Reply

      Hi James, thanks for read­ing, and also for your kind words! I have looked at Constant’s book (albeit a while ago), but I don’t think I’ve ever con­sult­ed Lass­abathie. Will have to seek out that vol­ume some time.

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