Robert Langevin, Principal Flute
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All concerts and events through June 13, 2021 are cancelled. Learn more about our response to COVID-19. Support the Philharmonic by donating your tickets.
Robert Langevin

With the start of the 2000–01 season, Robert Langevin joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Flute, in The Lila Acheson Wallace Chair. In May 2001, he made his solo debut with the Orchestra in the North American premiere of Siegfried Matthus’s Concerto for Flute and Harp with Philharmonic Principal Harp Nancy Allen and Music Director Kurt Masur. His October 2012 solo performance in Nielsen’s Flute Concerto, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert, was recorded for inclusion in The Nielsen Project, the Orchestra’s multi-season traversal of all of the Danish composer’s symphonies and concertos, to be released by Dacapo Records.

Prior to the Philharmonic, Mr. Langevin held the Jackman Pfouts Principal Flute Chair of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and was an adjunct professor at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh. Mr. Langevin served as associate principal of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for 13 years, playing on more than 30 recordings. As a member of Musica Camerata Montreal and l’Ensemble de la Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec, he premiered many works, including the Canadian premiere of Pierre Boulez’s Le Marteau sans maître. In addition, Mr. Langevin has performed as soloist with Quebec’s most distinguished ensembles and has recorded many recitals and chamber music programs for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He also served on the faculty of the University of Montreal for nine years.

Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Robert Langevin began studying flute at age 12 and joined the local orchestra three years later. While studying with Jean-Paul Major at the Montreal Conservatory of Music, he started working in recording studios, where he accompanied a variety of artists of different styles. He graduated in 1976 with two first prizes, one in flute, the other, in chamber music. Not long after, he won the prestigious Prix d’Europe, a national competition open to all instruments with a first prize of a two-year scholarship to study in Europe. This enabled him to work with Aurèle Nicolet at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany, where he graduated in 1979. He then went on to study with Maxence Larrieu, in Geneva, winning second prize at the Budapest International Competition in 1980.

Mr. Langevin is a member of the Philharmonic Quintet of New York with which he has performed concerts on many continents. In addition, he has given recitals and master classes throughout the United States and in countries such as Canada, Spain, Costa Rica, Japan, North Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam. He is currently on the faculties of The Juilliard School, The Manhattan School of Music, and the Orford International Summer Festival. 

“I cannot think of any other instrument with such a palette of colors.”

Q&A with Robert Langevin

Robert Langevin, Principal Flute
The Lila Acheson Wallace Chair

THE FACTS: Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Attended Montreal Conservatory of Music and Hochschule für Musik, Freiburg, Germany. Prior to the Philharmonic: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as principal flute; Montreal Symphony Orchestra as associate principal flute. At the Philharmonic: Joined in 2000. Solo debut with the Philharmonic in U.S. premiere of Siegfried Matthus’s Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in 2001. Teaches at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Orford International Summer Festival.

WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING THE FLUTE? As a child I had a strong interest in jazz — I wanted to play the saxophone. But I was told to start on the clarinet, which I didn’t like very much. I picked up a flute in the house and was able to make a sound right away; it seemed to be an easy instrument and, being in an all-boys school, nobody played it in the band so I thought it was a rare instrument and that I would ultimately be able to get a lot of work with it. I really wanted to be a musician. One of my earliest musical memories was playing Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony in an orchestra for the first time, in Sherbrooke. It was the first classical work I had heard. I was amazed!

MOST INSPIRING COMPOSERS: The symphonies of Beethoven speak to me the most. For the flute, French music — Debussy and Ravel. It’s as if the flute had been invented to play their music.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR INSTRUMENT? The sound — I cannot think of any other instrument with such a palette of colors.

WHICH MUSICIAN DO YOU ADMIRE MOST? Heinz Holliger. Not only was he one of the world's leading oboists, but he was also an accomplished pianist, composer, and conductor: one of those few musicians who can do anything. After a full day of teaching, he and my teacher, Aurèle Nicolet, would perform in town, and we'd go and listen. It was very inspiring to be around musicians like that.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS WITH THE ORCHESTRA: In 2011 the Philharmonic played in Montreal shortly after the opening of a new hall. Music Director Alan Gilbert was kind enough to program Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp; it felt like a homecoming. And there was a funny moment when we did Hindemith’s Sancta Susannah. It called for backstage flutes: we had to start the piece onstage and then go to the first tier to play.The path isn’t as simple as it looks, and we literally ran to get there in time. At the concert, my colleague had to take off her high heels to run. It felt like we were on The Amazing Race.

WHAT ARE YOU ESPECIALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS SEASON? Working with guest conductors who I haven't worked with before. It's exciting to get new perspectives and discover promising young conductors. We need to think about the future.

As of November 2013

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