FLUTE Member Of The Week
November 1 to 7, 1999
Every time I read a reminder on FLUTE to keep contents flute-related, I can't help thinking: "Yes, on the face of it, the list is about the flute and flute-playing, but really and truly, it's about people". That is my main reason for agreeing to present myself on this forum. I will try to keep the flute-player in check and let the rest of me also have a say (as far as my vanity allows).
Mozart G Maj: Adagio
Chamberorchestra of Warsaw
DUX digital 9210 AKL

My (skeleton) professional résumé:

1979-1983 Flute studies at Oslo Conservatory (Norway)
1983-1986 Flute studies at "Folkwanghochschule", Essen (Germany)
1985-1986 Temporary contract as alternating principal with Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (Norway)
1986-1989 Principal flute with the Ulm Philharmonic Orchestra (Germany)
1989-1990 Principal flute with "Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest", Amsterdam
1990- Freelance work as a flute soloist, chamber musician and teacher.
Faculty member of the Wiesbaden Academy of Music (Germany)

The most influential teacher of my apprentice years was Prof. Matthias Rütters in Essen. He taught me the craft of flute-playing as well as the art of practicing and the belief that every problem can be solved. His discipline and the regularity of his lessons has become an example for me in my own teaching.

Mr. Rütters also taught me how to win auditions, and I successively spent time with orchestras in Oslo, Ulm and Amsterdam. Ulm and Amsterdam were symphony- and opera-orchestras and I am especially grateful for getting to know the full gamut of orchestra repertoire.

An important turning point of my career was the year 1990. I decided (after many sleepless nights) to leave the orchestra and do something else with my instrument. It was a "Flucht nach vorne" (a forward flight) into total insecurity and I had—apart from the odd concert—no work lined up. At that time, I was lucky to receive a scholarship from the French "Service Culturel", and a year of wining and dining in Paris helped cushion the bumps of my occupational transition. In Paris—much too old to be a regular student—, I was accepted as an "auditeur" at the Conservatory and additionally took some lessons with Raymond Guiot, a musician, flutist and teacher that I admire and respect very much.

Today, I am pretty busy playing both solo recitals and with different chamber music groups as well as teaching at the Wiesbaden Academy. I am lucky to have an agent to help me acquire concerts within Germany and the rest of central Europe. I do occasionally travel further abroad and I have given concerts and classes in Japan and the US.

I was born in Trondheim (Norway) in the month of Taurus and the year of the dog. My father could not resist new job offers that would take him (and us) to different firms and universities in Norway and abroad, the most exotic place (for us) being the young Caribbean republic of Trinidad & Tobago. That excursion took our young family (I was seven) to Paris, where my parents were briefed for the tropics at the then pretty new UNESCO building. I hated the place—the food, the smells and everything about it—and decided to take my brothers (five years, three years and six months of age) back to the hotel on my own. The sight of the four of us dodging Paris traffic was to reappear in my mother's nightmares for years. Coming back to perform the Mozart D-major concerto in the big auditorium of the the same building 25 years later was a very special occasion to me indeed, so many strange and distant memories being reanimated. [I also remember us kids making such a racket that we were friendly asked to look for a new hotel.]

Before I completed my Norwegian "Examen Artium" in 1978, I had spent 13 years in 6 differents schools—in just about as many cities. Still, these were happy years, due to the company of my three amazing brothers, books and music. I started playing the recorder when I was four and was blessed with a presentable boy soprano voice. Sometimes, I wonder if my preoccupation with the flute from age 14 was instigated by a subconscious wish to stay up in the high spheres of the descant after the gravity of puberty pulled my voice down to earth (or should I say "down to dirt").

The single most important incident of my youth was a very serious traffic accident. I spent the entire summer of the year I turned nineteen in hospital—mending. It was the same year that my parents divorced, so there was great emotional havoc at home. Ever since this close brush with death, I have the feeling of living on borrowed time—mellowing down my personal ambitions and materialistic needs. Flutewise, the accident (I don't know how many stitches to the lips) transformed me from somebody with a talent to someone who must fight the odds. But, after one semester of math and philosophy at the University of Oslo (and with the encouragement of Torkil Bye), I decided to have a go at a professional career in music after all.

That's exactly 20 years ago. Since then, the pleasures and agonies of my studies and professional music making are too numerous to be told. There have been moments of insecurity and bewilderment (my first rehearsal as a professional with Raphael Frühbeck de Burgos conducting the "Alpensymphonie" and me not understanding what the dickens is going on), moments of great anxiety, but also many moments of great satisfaction (contributing towards a memorable performance and experiencing the gratitude of the audience and the praise of the critics).

Along the way, I met Charlotte (pleasurable moment!) and we have now been married for 12 years. After 10 years of teaching, Charlotte decided to go back to school and is presently studying arts management at the "Musikhochschule" of Weimar, Germany. That is also the reason for our latest change of address (it's not always me). We have a lovely daughter, Hilda Marie. When she was born in January, I took 6 months leave to help with the daily care. I have become quite knowledgeable about diapers and baby porridge, and—let's face it—men with babies get fantastic service everywhere.

So much and I still haven't told if I'm a dog or a cat person, an early or a late riser, Norwegian or German or what—and imperatively, what kind of flute I play.

I do believe that a certain dualism—or multiplicity—is a part of my personality. There is a little of every country and every city in me, and I try to defend the right to—given the alternatives—be both or nothing. I am a flutist out of passion, but will deny it when asked. Still, at the flutelist, I have discovered the beauty of having colleagues and belonging to that community also.

If any of you should happen to be in Weimar, Germany (or in the vicinity), please mail me in advance and I would love to meet you. Every summer, I will be in Norway, where my summer school in Kristiansand is slowly turning into a small festival. But beware, I'm a hopeless yakker and an even worse punster.

Lars Asbjørnsen

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