Georges Gillet

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Georges Gillet
Georges Gillet 1900.jpg
Gillet in 1900
Born(1854-05-17)May 17, 1854
DiedFebruary 8, 1920(1920-02-08) (aged 65)
OccupationOboist, composer

Georges-Vital-Victor Gillet (May 17, 1854 – February 8, 1920) was a French oboist and composer, influential as a soloist, teacher, manufacturer, and composer through his sets of études. In addition to premiering the oboe works of prominent French composers of the 19th century, including Émile Paladilhe, Charles-Édouard Lefebvre, and Clémence de Grandval, among others, he was the teacher of Fernand Gillet and Marcel Tabuteau. Gillet also helped develop the F. Lorée brand of oboe and composed a number of études that are still used today.


Gillet was born in Louviers on 17 May 1854.[1] A musical prodigy, Gillet began studying the oboe when he was twelve and entered the Paris Conservatory less than a year later.[2] He graduated in 1869, when he was 15 years old.[1] After graduating, he held oboe positions with the Comédie-Italienne, Concerts Colonne, Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Opéra-Comique, and the Paris Opera,[1] as well as a longtime teaching position at the Paris Conservatory from 1882 to 1919.[2] In addition to orchestra and teaching positions, Gillet was a founding member of the Société de Musique de Chambre pour Instruments à Vent (Chamber Music Society for Wind Instruments) with Paul Taffanel, which premiered works by Charles Gounod, Lefebvre, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.[1] In oboe circles, Gillet was well respected, with his nephew Fernand later stating that his sound, technique and reed making were "the envy of all".[3]

As a teacher, Gillet's two most notable students were Fernand Gillet and Marcel Tabuteau. Fernand Gillet claimed to have attempted making only one reed in his life, while Tabuteau was an innovator in reed making.[4] Other students included two of the principal oboists of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Albert Weiss and Georges Longy) as well as Alfred Barthel (principal of the Chicago Symphony), Louis Speyer, and Alexandre Duvoir.[5] Gillet was credited with introducing vibrato at the Paris Conservatory[3] as well as teaching students to warm up by playing three chromatic scales in thirds in any given practice session.[1] Gillet greatly cared about his students, so his life became increasingly strained when three of them were killed in World War I.[1] Gillet retired due to health reasons in 1919, died February 8, 1920, at the age of 65, and was buried in the Montmartre Cemetery.[1]

The cellist and composer Ernest Gillet (1856–1940) was his younger brother.

Work with Lorée[edit]

Together with François Lorée and his son Adolphe Lucien Lorée, Gillet made F. Lorée oboes one of the most popular brands manufactured.[6] Before Lorée was established in 1881, the dominant oboe manufacturer was Triebert, headed by Fréderic Triebert.[1] The company was established when Lorée left his job as the foreman of Triebert.[7] According to Laila Storch, Gillet encouraged Lorée to open his own company.[6] Gillet quickly designated Lorée oboes as the required brand to be used by students attending the Paris Conservatory.[1] In 1906, Lorée's son, Lucien, collaborated with Gillet to create the "conservatory plateau system" of oboe making,[7] a style that is used frequently today.[6]


Gillet also composed a set of études titled Études pour L'enseignement Supérieur du Hautbois, or Studies for the Advanced Teaching of the Oboe, which have become a standard part of oboe repertoire.[8] In the introduction to the études, Gillet stated that he wrote the studies for his students in order to be able to play the increasingly difficult solo and orchestral repertoire for the oboe and that composers should use the études as a rough guide to the technical possibilities of the oboe.[1]

I have tried to make the reading of [the studies] as arduous as possible in order to prepare you for all the surprises I have found in the orchestra and in certain sight-reading pieces at examinations and contests, and I have taken particular care to include numerous and very difficult passages and articulations, as well as certain high and low trills…I hope that it will make you familiar with every difficulty of your instrument; I shall be amply rewarded for my trouble if it is conducive to your progress and if it is of material help in developing your budding talent and in perfecting you in the very difficult art of the oboe.[9]

The études are in common use today,[1] and oboist John de Lancie used the étude book as the fourth and final book in forming his students at the Curtis Institute of Music.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Margelli, Ted. "The Paris Conservatoire Concours Oboe Solos: The Gillet Years" (PDF). International Double Reed Society. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Storch, Laila. "Georges Gillet—Master Teacher and Performer." Journal of the International Double Reed Society 5 (June 1977): 1–19.
  3. ^ a b Post, Nora (January 1978). "Interview with Fernand and Marie Gillet". Nora Post. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  4. ^ Lazar, Jerry. "Oboe Reeds (Tools of the Trade)" (PDF). Ticketmaster Live! Magazine. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  5. ^ "Boston Symphony Orchestra Principal Musicians". Boston Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Storch, Laila. "100 Years F. Lorée: 1881–1981." Journal of the International Double Reed Society 9 (June 1981): 28–42.
  7. ^ a b "History of Lorée". F. Lorée. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  8. ^ Zoller IV, Linwood William (December 2011). Historical Études for Oboe (D.M.A.). Louisiana State University.
  9. ^ Gillet, Georges. "Études pour L'Enseignement Supérieur du Hautbois" (PDF). IMSLP. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  10. ^ Schuring, Martin; McAllister, Timothy. "Notes to the Edition" (PDF). Retrieved June 28, 2015.