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
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
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
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).
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
Maurice André who first studied with Leon
Barthélémy, had to buy method books by Arban and
Franquin. André says in an an interview:
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
Journal, December 1985
* ITG Journal, December
Journal, May 1995
* ITG Journal, May 1996