O.J.'s Trumpet Page Artists and personalities

Merri Franquin

Franquin playing a cornet
Merri Jean Baptiste Franquin (1848 - 1934)

Merri Franquin was born October 19, 1848 in Lancon, a small town in Bouches-du-Rhone. When he was 15 years old, he discovered an old brass instrument - a cornet - in the family home.

He studied the instrument by himself for four year. An orchestral conductor passing through Lancon heard him play and advised him to go to Marseille. Thus in 1867 he was taken on as a cornet-player in the Marseille Casino Musical. There he later played as soloist at the Palais Lyrique and at the Theatre Chave until 1870 when he joined the band of the Marseille Garde Nationale as solo flugelhorn, staying there until the age of 24. His desire to get to know the capital took him, despite various difficulties, to the Paris Conservatoire where, on May 7, 1872, he was admitted to the cornet class under J. B. Arban.

Teacher / professor at Paris Conservatory(1894 - 1925)
Franquin was appointed Professor of Trumpet at the Paris Conservatory in 1894.

Trumpet teaching was first started in 1833 at the Paris Conservatory. The first teacher was Francois Georges Auguste Dauverné (1799-1874). Dauverné was under the German influence of  J. E. Altenburg. When his student, Arban, was appointed as the first professor of the Cornet (Feb. 1. 1869), he made his chosen instrument a rival of the trumpet. It was not until Franquin that the trumpet "made a comeback".

The trumpet revival
Franquin and the Belgian Théo Charlier (1868 - 1944) were jointly responsible for the rediscovery and rehabilitation of the trumpet. In the period Franquin was professor he also developed a four and a five valved trumpet.

Like his predecessor Dauverné and Arban, Franquin also published a method book. Franquins book, Methode Complete de la Trompette Moderne de Cornet a Pistons et de Bugle, has not become as widespread as Arban's Method for the Cornet.

One of Franquin's student was Georges Mager (1885 - 1950), who later travelled to USA and became first trumpet with Boston Symphony Orchestra (principal from 1919 - 1950). Another great student was Eugene Foveau (1886 - 1957). Foveau won the first-prize on trumpet in 1907. In 1925, Foveu succeded Alexandre Petit as Professor of Cornet at the Paris Conservatory.

The Romanian composer Georges Enescu (1881-1955) had a successful collaboration with Franquin that resulted in Légende (1906) for trumpet and piano. It was written for the annual conservatory competition and is regarded as a masterpiece of the solo trumpet repertoire. The trumpet part (trumpet in C) of Légende can be found in Franquin's Method (page 328 - 329).

Playing career.
Franquin embarked on his career at the age of 28.  He became first soloist at the Concerts Populaires Pasdeloup (1876-1892), then solo trumpet at the Concerts Colonne (1884 - 1892), first solo trumpet at the Theatre National de I'Opera (1880-1901), solo trumpet of the Conservatoire Concert Society (1892-1901) and he took part in the St. Eustache Grand Oratorio orchestra from 1899 to 1901 where he played several times as a soloist.

"Papa" Fanquin's influence
Great French trumpet players like Maurice André, Pierre Thibaud and Guy Touvron refer to Franquin's method as a very important part of their own development.

Maurice André who first studied with Leon Barthélémy, had to buy method books by Arban and  Franquin. André says in an an interview:

"the great method which I practiced with M. Barthélémy, that of Merri Franquin. Yes, the method .. the question of soft and loud attacks, all kinds of tonguing. He stuffed me full of these tonguing exercises, pianissimo without forcing the high register or the low. You know, looking back I look on Franquin's method as one of the best."

Pierre Thibaud explained at a seminar (see page 48 - 49 ITG Journal, May 1996) how he uses Franquin's attack exercise:

They consist of  isolated half notes to be played ppp followed by six beats of rest. This refined control over soft entries can be for Thibaud from ten minutes to one-and-a-half hours daily practice. A feeling for attack in all registers is required, and Thibaud therefore recommends beginning the day with attacks.

* Brass Bulletin No. 29 1980 - page 67 ..  (article by Michel Laplace)
* ITG Journal, December 1985
* ITG Journal, December 1993
* ITG Journal, May 1995
* ITG Journal, May 1996