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Susan Milan Web Site|
Susan Milan CV
Discography and Publications
Master Classics Collection by Susan Milan
The Susan Milan Collection: Master Classics Flute Archive Series
Set of historic flute recordings featuring Rene Le Roy, George Barrere, Marcel Moyse, Clement Barone, Albert Fransella, John Lemmone, and John Amadio
An Inspirational Journey
Susan's account of the background leading to the Master Classics Flute Archive Series
The LSSO Experience
Susan Milan recalls her years as a member of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra
First Performances and Dedications
Charterhouse Festival with Susan Milan
Susan Milan, ARCM Hons
18 St. Albans Avenue, Weybridge, Surrey KT 13 8EN. UK.
|1958-63||Junior Exhibitioner Royal College of Music, London|
|1963-67||Scholar at Royal Colege of Music, London|
|Won all the flute prizes. Also first study piano, second study singing.|
|Flute Professor, John Francis|
|1960-66||Member of London Schools Symphony Orchestra|
|1967||Countess of Munster Award. Post Graduate year at Guildhall School of Music, London|
|Flute Professor, Geoffrey Gilbert|
|1965-71||Attended Marcel Moyse Masterclasses in Boswil, Switzerland|
|1968||Appointed Principal Flute with Bournemouth Sinfonietta|
|1973||Appointed Principal Flute with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London|
|1981||Left RPO to begin solo/chamber music career|
|1983||Appointed Professor of Flute, Royal College of Music, London|
|1990-94||Chairman of British Flute Society|
|1990||Contract to record for the Chandos label|
|1992||Contract to publish 19th century repertoire for Boosey and Hawkes|
|1995||Contract to record for the Upbeat label|
Susan Milan has performed as solo flute and soloist in UK with:
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, English Chamber Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, English String Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Welsh Orchestra, Philomusica of London, New London Orchestra, Haydn Festival Orchestra, and others.
Solo appearances abroad include:
Holland, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia, USA, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Susan Milan Discography & Publications
buy direct from Master Classics
The Susan Milan Collection
Whether you are a professional flautist, amateur, or just a lover of flute music, you'll be fascinated and inspired by this unique collection of early recordings of flute virtuosi.
Listen to an extraordinary range of repertoire, some long since forgotten, performed by some of the greatest flute virtuosi of the early twentieth century from around the world. Compare the styles and techniques of these great artists. A unique series espeically devoted to the flute, from Master Classics.MCLRMB 101
Click Here to visit the Rhodes College site where you will find an internet order form to order a copy of this collection over the internet.
An Inspirational Journey
One day while blitzing through my papers, I came across this list, carefully filed away so long ago, and I felt compelled to phone Mr. Edwards again. He was please to hear from me, and when I tentatively asked if the offer of copying some of his 78's was still open, he told me he had recently retired and was selling them. Would I like to see the list!?! Well, yes!
The outcome was that I bought the entire collection. I drove down to Colchester to collect them, had another charming and interesting talk with Mr. Edwards, who is extremely knowledgeable, as only the true music lover and collector can be, and then returned home with what I had come to suspect was quite a treasure.
The next question was how to listen to them. My mother had an old 78 player, but I felt very protective towards my cargo, and decided to do some research. I was soon talking to Peter Copeland of the National Sound Archive, who gave me very good advice, and put me in touch with Philip Farlow, who is one of the bes specialists in transferring 78 to tape or CD in this country. So off I went to listen to some of my reocrds on Philip's special equipment---and how wonderful that was! I was listening to flute players who were born before the beginning of this century! The style and sound were sometime very different from our perception of flute playing today, but the virtuosity and musicality were nothing short of inspirations--fascinating--and educational. I felt very humble listeniung to those impeccable performances, made with no editing, no surround sound or added ambience, no knobs to twiddle or tricks to enhance. Just absolutely honest performing!
Now it began to emerge in my mind that every flute player who is interested in the history of flute playing ought to have access to these. There are many young players now who have never heard a 78 recording, and who have probably never heard of flute players from this early generation, apart from those famous Frenchmen. And so I decided to look into the possibility of putting my collection on to CD.
After some investigation into the logistics, I decided to go ahead. Philip transferred all of the 78s in their raw state to CDs, so that I could listen and select the material, and this was followed by a visit to Sound Recording Technology in Cambridge, where with the very sophisticated equipment now available, restoration has taken place. This has been quite a learning curve for me, and I have emjoyed it tremendously. I wanted to be sure that the records were restored and checked for pitch., so I have directed the whole procedure all along the line, as it were. With the engineer, I decided basically how little surface and crackle noise to take off the origanal recordings. This, in a way, was the most vital decision, as taking too much hiss away also detracts from the higher frequencies, and alters the tone of the flute. Many of the longer recordings needed editing as the performances were often stopped and restarted to allow for turning the record over. This required careful editing and checking for pitch and speed changes. Some very old 78 records run slow or fast--more often fast--making the player sound like Mickey Mouse. Some gather speed as they play and consequently become sharper and sharper. All this had to be monitored, so while they were being transferred and restored, I took my flute with me, and checked it all out.
With the technology now available, we can get much, much closer to how these players actually sounded and can prevent their performances being spoiled by pitch changes or faults on the original 78. I had to research some of the repertoire to find out which key it was in, so I have acquired some new pieces along the way! I was glad I checked them out, as some works were running a semitone flat, making the tone dull and strange. Altogether, there will be 6-8 CDs in the series.
Apart from one very short work performed by Barrere, none of the works performed by these artists are currently available on CD!
Of course, many paople, especially the younger ones, will think that I am completely mad when they hear the quality of the sound, or perhaps one should say they type of sound, especially if they have not heards 78s before. One has to bypass the difference in style and the difference in instruments (the Cooper scale wasn't around then!) and the fact that on many of these recordings, the performers were huddled around a large horn, and were limited to 4 minutes music per side! When one has become accustomed to the old fashioned sound accompanied by a certain amount of surface noise, one hears what marvellous players they were. The human ear is so good at adapting. It only takes a few minutes to slip back to the 1920s.
This project seems to have had its own momentum as if all those forgotten flute players were standing behind me saying "come on, it's time people knew that we could play like this!"
Susan Milan, July 1, 1997
I was a very lucky child. I was born in north London to parents who were not musicians, but my mother felt that I was in some way artistic. She sent me to ballet school and at three I stepped onto the stage for the first time as a butterfly in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, wearing a blue sequined suit with scarves for wings. I remember at the last curtain call being so small that I was lost in all the long legs, but I wormed my way to the front to wave to mummy.
When I was six we moved to Putney. My primary school headmistress was a great music lover and employed a big music staff, all very much in touch with the profession. At eight I began the recorder with Jonathan Myatt who now owns a well known music/flute shop. At nine I chose the flute and studied with the wind teacher, a clarinettist called George MacDonald who is now principal clarinet with the Northern Sinfonia. We looked up the fingerings together and I seem to remember playing lots of Handel sonatas.
At ten I began the piano with Mary Peri, who introduced me to lots of musicians, many of whom I have worked with since. I wanted to learn the piano-accordion as well, but it was too heavy. As it was I began the flute on a huge wooden Rudell Carte instrument and could barely stretch to bottom C. But I loved it.
Being only a beginner on the piano, I couldn't go to Junior College at this stage (the CYM didn't yet exist), and I was taken under the wings of the flautist John Francis and his wife, the pianist Millicent Silver. Since my parents couldn't afford to pay for private lessons, John and Millicent taught me free of charge for a year and became like musical parents to me. I was then awarded a Junior Exhibition to study at the Royal College of Music with Graham Mayger, one of John's pupils, and Dorothea Aspinell on the piano. Later I returned to John and Millicent at Senior College.
I was awared my Junior Exhibition by Dr. Leslie Russell, the founder and conductor of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra and senior music advisor for the London County Council. I had no idea who he was, but I was soon to find out. After the audition he invited me to give a short recital for the LSSO during one of their courses. It was customary for a player in the orchestra to give a lunchtime recital of 15 minutes during the course. I was twelve at the time.
At thirteen I joined the Reserve Orchestra where I discovered how incredibly exciting it was to be surrounded by so much sound (some people might have thought it was noise, but we thought it was great). The conductor was Niso Tucciati and I remember feeling rather nervous trying to keep up with all the bug guys playing the Egmont Overture, Malcolm Arnold's Symphony no. 4 and Sibelius' Swan of Tuonela.
The flute coach was at first John Francis and later David Sandeman who was in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. There was altogether a very impressive lin-up of professionals coaching wind and strings. Of couse, I was completely ignorant as to how well known these people were and oblivious of how generous they were with their time. Such is youth.
I soon got used to sight-reading, or at least busking, my way through some of the repertoire and after one year climbed to the dizzy heights of the first orchestra, called the Members Orchestra, under the baton of the much loved and respected 'Doc' Russell. At that time my teacher Graham Mayger was the principal flute and my hero. when he left I became principal flute and embarked on a very exciting period, playing concertos with the orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall and Royal Albert Hall and in fantastic concert halls abroad.
Two events stand out as milestones during this period. One was walking into the Royal College for the first time and feeling as though I had come home; the other, the electrifying excitement of sitting in front of the brass and percussion for the first time and just drowning in decibels. With the LSSO I flew for the first time, felt homesick for the first time, ate in restaurants for the first time and met the man I was later to marry, William Prince, then first horn.
On our trip to germany, William played a Mozart Horn Concerto and I played a Quantz Flute Concerto in prestigious halls such as the Bonn Beethovenhalle and the Frankfurt Konzerthalle. William and I were 18 and 17 respectively. I think we must have been minor rebels, because I remember staying out too late in Frankfurt, being locked out of the hostel, getting into enormous trouble, and probably only getting away with it because we were the soloists and couldn't be sent home! I think there was a tight budget on these trips. When we weren't in Youth Hostels we stayed with families. I spoke no German at all. Another new experience.
We covered quite a repertoire. works we played during my time with the orchestra included, besides those mentioned above, symphonies by Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Bizet and Shostakovich, the Magic Flute, Fingal's Cave, Abu Hassan, Meistersinger, La Fille Mai Gardee and Carnival Romain overtures, Franck's Symphonic Variations, Mozart's wind Sinfonia Concertante, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto no. 4, Boyce's Double Concerto in B minor, Borodin's Prince Igo Dances, Rimsky-Korsakov's Dance of the Tumblers, Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe Suite no. 2, Debussy's Prélude à l'Après-didi d'un Faune, Delius's Song Before Sunrise, Kodaly's Hary Janos Suite and 'Doc' Russell's own Variations on Blaydon Races. The programme for the Albert Hall concert at which I played my first concerto in London comprised Copland's Outdoor Overture, Vaughan Williams' Job, Walton's Prelude: Richard III, a Quantz Flute Concerto, Seiber's Besardo Suite and Wangenheim's Sonatina for Orchestra.
It was through Dr. Russell that I was invited to play the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra as well as the LSSO at the Festival Hall when I was 17. The harpist was Skaila Kanga and we have recently recorded the work for the Chandos label. In fact it is interesting to think of how many musicians I still work and socialize with from my LSSO days, because although it was very hard work it was also great fun and laid the foundations not only for a career in music but for lasting friendships and working relationships. Looking back I realize that I not only learnt a huge amount of orchestral repertoire, I also learnt how to communicate and work with people to make music.
This is perhaps as important a lesson as playing the "dots". I could not learn it from my parents or teachers. When I later became principal flute in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with all those very experienced and marvellous musicians, the foundations of sight reading, working together and learning quickly had been put in place by Dr. Russell and the years I spent with the LSSO. Doc Russell retired in 1966 - my last year with the LSSO - and I played in his last concert at the Royal College of Music. He had given his expertise and encouragement to thousands of young musicians for fifteen years.
I am now a professor at the Royal college helping young players along a similar path to mine. My 13-year-old son Christopher plays the cello and has just been awarded a place at Junior Royal College of Music. I am pleased to say that he has joined the London Schools Concert Orchestra recently and I know that he is enjoying it as much as I did and is looking forward to the Belgian tour where I don't doubt he will have a lot of fun, possibly behave himself and in the process add a few more "dots" his repertoire. Good luck for the future to the LSSO! If I could go back in time I would do it all again.
|1967||Kavitta 2 (flt,vce,pno)||N. Sohal||London||None|
|1970||Reflections (solo flute)||P. Lamb||Bournemouth||Susan Milan|
|1973||Krystallen (solo flute)||R. Saxton||London||Susan Milan|
|1974||Fantasy Sonata (flt,pno)||D. Morgan||London||Susan Milan|
|1975||Concerto (flt,orch)||J. Feld||London with the RPO||None|
|1980||Sonata per Assisi (2 flutes)||A. Dorati||Assisi||Susan Milan|
|1981||6 tunes for the Instruction of Singing Birds||R.R. Bennett||Norwich Festival||None|
|1983||Memento (flute, strings)||R.R. Bennett||Windsor Festival by LPO||Susan Milan|
|1984||Concerto (flute, strings)||Ole Schmidt||Aarhus, Denmark||Susan Milan|
|1987||Serenade (flt,strings,hrp)||R. Walker||Queen Elizabeth Hall||Instrumental Quintet of London|
|1989||Flute Fantasy (flt,strings,hrps)||Carl Davis||Chichester Festival with ASMS||Dedicated to Susan Milan|
|1991||Concerto (flt,orch)||R. Simpson||Malvern Festival||Susan Milan|
|1992||Stardrift (solo flute)||E. Roxburgh||London||Susan Milan|
|1995||Concerto (flt,orch)||R. Steptoe||St. Johns, Smith Sq.||Susan Milan|
|1995||Quintetto Capriccioso (flt,strings,hrp)||J. Feld||Queen Elizabeth Hall with IQL||IQL|