Best Quotes About Flutes and Flutists

The flute is one of the best-loved instruments in band and orchestra, and it’s easy to understand why. It is incredibly versatile, can play an exceptionally wide range of notes, and plays a starring role in classical music, jazz, and even pop music.

modern flutes

Modern orchestral flutes by Rudall, Carte & Co.: (a) bass in C; (b) alto in G; (c) concert in C; (d) treble in G; (e) piccolo in C

To celebrate the flute, we’ve assembled some famous quotes about both the flute and flutists. Enjoy!

The flute is not an instrument that has a good moral effect – it is too exciting.

– Aristotle, Politics

I practice in the same way as a singer or a violin player. When they sing, singers practice to try and get it like it is in the concert. Violin players certainly do that. String players certainly play like it is on the Carnegie Hall stage all the time, and that’s what I do. There’s a lot of wind players who play everything sort of mezzo forte, or piano, and they think when they get to the concert, they’ll give it the works. Then, they get to the concert, they find the works are not happening because they didn’t practice the works. You have to practice doing it, and getting things in focus.

– Flutist James Galway in an interview with Bruce Duffie

The Magic Flute, The MET production

Mozart’s The Magic Flute © The MET

What’s even worse than a flute? – Two flutes!

– Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (possibly apocryphal, but too good and too famous to not include)

God picks up the reed-flute world and blows. Each note is a need coming through one of us, a passion, a longing pain. Remember the lips where the wind-breath originated, and let your note be clear. Don’t try to end it. Be your note.

– Poet Rumi

I also always carry my flute. It’s very important for me to try to relax when I’m traveling, and playing my flute helps me to unwind.

– Singer Andrea Bocelli, on Facebook

Andrea Bocelli and Andrea Griminelli play and sing Aranjuez’s Concert

When it sounds too breathy, as if it has too much air, then it’s a question of the air column. It means that the player is not sending all the air in the good direction.

– Flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, interview with the Washington Post

After I came out of surgery – I was in the hospital for five weeks – I found that I gravitated toward very gentle sounds: chant music, solo bamboo flute sounds, a laid-back record of my own called ‘Inside.’ And the music became a very real part of my recovery process.

– Flutist Paul Horn

The tonality of the flute almost has a mystic element to me.

– Film and television composer Ramin Djawadi

It’s a lot of work. You gotta practice for a long time to get it right… I really loved sitting in a symphony and sitting in an ensemble and playing music, and I would get goosebumps when we would play pieces.

– Singer, rapper, and flutist Lizzo

Lizzo plays James Madison’s flute at Library of Congress

Think of the air column as a part of your body, like a finger, which you can direct up or down very easily.

– Flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, Flute Talk Magazine

Sir James Galway, also known as "Man with the Golden Flute"

Sir James Galway is known as the “Man with the Golden Flute”

Traveling a lot on airplanes, and spending a lot of time in hotels, the whole mucus gets dried out. So, I have a special ointment which you can buy from most chemists, and you just apply it in your nose and on your lips. A lot of people use this ‘Chap Stick’, but I never use it. That’s death for flute players because you put it on, and the thing is hard, and as you rub it on your lips, it tears a bit of skin off. It’s better to get a cream that’s soft, and apply it with the finger. You should do it after you’re finished playing the flute.

– Flutist James Galway in an interview with Bruce Duffie

It must be a passion – as important as the water you drink or the bread you eat.

– Flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, as quoted in The Guardian

Claude Debussy – Syrinx – Jean-Pierre Rampal

My technical strengths come from many hours of practicing and listening. My weaknesses are like weeds. They keep reappearing. So I need to keep at them, to clear the garden so that the flowers can grow. I think this is true of all of us, in regular life too.

– Orchestral flutist Paula Robison, interview with the website Musician in Progress

I have always been in love with the flute—from the first moment I decided I wanted to learn to play when I was nine. I think many of us live in the world of music simply because this magical instrument called to us, and we had to play… I know this is true for me.

– Orchestral flutist Jeanne Baxtresser on her website

Emmanuel Pahud

Emmanuel Pahud

I try to just deliver the best possible performance of what the composer has put in their music, and find the intentions of the composer between the lines of the score. It’s kind of like an actor who plays Shakespeare today; we’re trying to rediscover the meaning of these great works and find the best way to project this so that it resonates with a modern audience.

– Orchestral flutist Emmanuel Pahud, interview with the Australian Chamber Orchestra

Emmanuel Pahud plays Fauré: Fantaisie, Op. 79 – with Orchestre de chambre de Paris, François Leleux

It’s interesting having musicians that don’t all have the same experiences musically. They have a broad awareness of different kinds of music, but their comfort zone is not the same as the guy standing next to them. It typically means they may be a little out of their comfort zone when learning new material. But that’s part of the challenge. I have that same challenge if I play on somebody else’s record as a guest. I have to find a way to honor their style of music, even if it’s something I’m not particularly fond of. I must try to find a way to get inside their head and inside that music. Be able to make something that is compatible. That is a useful challenge for any musician to rise to. To find new contexts in which to play.

– Musician Ian Anderson, interview with V. W. Music

At some point, I had to realize that my pleasure and joy in doing the job could be enhanced if I became more accepting of my fallibilities. We strive for perfection in the practice room, but a human being sits in the chair in performance. That humanity is what makes live performance so compelling.

– Orchestral flutist Jeanne Baxtresser, interview with Don Bailey

I do not consider myself as having mastered the flute, but I get a real kick out of trying.

– Flutist James Galway

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