William Bennett (flautist)

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William Bennett
Birth nameWilliam Ingham Brooke Bennett
Born (1936-02-07) 7 February 1936 (age 85)
London, England
GenresBaroque, classical, contemporary
Associated actsLondon Symphony Orchestra

William Ingham Brooke Bennett OBE is a British flute player, born on 7 February 1936 in London to parents who were both architects.

Musical style[edit]

His playing is distinguished by his wide repertoire (baroque to through classical and romantic to contemporary). His playing is also distinguished by his wide range of tone colours, which he developed through his association with the guitar and his wish to emulate the changing colours used by the guitarist Julian Bream. He also studied composition at music college, having already written a sonatina for flute and piano whilst at school, and then a concerto for flute, clarinet and strings before he was 18. His compositional skills have aided him in writing numerous realisations of continuo parts, in composing several cadenzas for classical concertos, (which can be heard on his recordings), and in making many arrangements for the flute of important pieces which were originally written for other instruments.

Early life and studies[edit]

He boarded at Beltane School until he was 16, starting his school life as a seven-year-old during the Second World War. He started playing the recorder at the age of 8 and the flute at 12. He studied the flute in London with Geoffrey Gilbert from the age of 15 and went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama a year later. Instead of doing two years of compulsory national military service after the war, he chose instead to serve three years in the Scots Guards band, which allowed him to continue his studies at the Guildhall School of Music. He went to Paris on a French government scholarship at 21, where he had lessons with Fernand Caratgé and Jean-Pierre Rampal. Later he studied with Marcel Moyse.

Career and recordings[edit]

At the age of 22, he started working in his first principal flute position in the BBC Northern orchestra (now the BBC Philharmonic). He has played with most of the major British orchestras, including the BBC Northern (Philharmonic), Sadlers Wells Opera, the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. He has played and recorded with chamber music ensembles, including the Melos Ensemble.[1], Nash Ensemble, Vesuvius Ensemble, Prometheus Ensemble and English Baroque Ensemble . As a soloist he has had partnerships with harpsichordist George Malcolm (with whom he recorded the complete Bach flute sonatas and Mozart concertos) and with pianist Clifford Benson and harpist Osian Ellis, with whom he has recorded extensively. In his solo recordings he has partnered Yehudi Menuhin, the Grumiaux Trio, I Musici, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and the English Chamber Orchestra, and has also recorded with artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Wynton Marsalis. He has made over 100 CDs as a soloist. He has received international acclaim and enthusiastic reviews in record and CD journals. Early in his career he made the first English recording of the complete Handel flute sonatas with Harold Lester, and of contemporary works including Boulez's Sonatine, Berio's Sequenza, Messiaen's Merle Noir, and Richard Rodney Bennett's Winter Music (which was specially written for him.) In addition to recording the standard flute repertoire of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart, etc., he has made pioneer recordings of many neglected 19th century works, such as music by Ries, Romberg, and Taffanel. He premiered concertos by William Mathias, Diana Burrell and Venezuelan composer Raymund Pineda, all of which were specially written for him. He has his own record label, "Beep Records". In the 1980s, he was Professor of Flute at the Freiburg Hochschule of Music in Germany, and he now teaches at the Royal Academy of Music in London and at masterclasses all over the world. His highly acclaimed International Flute Summer School has enjoyed 35 years of success.

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 1984 he was given the title of Professor by the District of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. In 1987 he was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music. In 2002 he was awarded the National Flute Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2003 he was appointed the British Flute Society's Flautist Laureate. In 2004 he was awarded the title of Flute of Gold from the Italian Falaut Flute society. In 2007 he was made Honorary President of the Guangzhou Flute Association, China. In 2009 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Chicago Flute Club. He is President of the British Flute Society. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in January 1995 for his distinguished Services to Music. In 2018 he was awarded The COBBETT Medal by the Musician's Company.

William Bennett scale[edit]

In addition to making a balalaika and a guitar whilst still at school, his dissatisfaction with the intonation of his flute led him to start altering the position of the tone holes of his flute when he was 18 years old. He invented the tuning patch, and then built his own flute at 20. He has been working to improve the scale of the flute ever since, and his continued work, in collaboration with other British flautists and makers, has helped to improve the intonation of the modern flute. There are many makers who have used the William Bennett scales : Altus Flute, Jupiter Flute, Jack Moore Flute, Almeida Flute, Tom Green Flute, Miguel Arista Flute, Juan Arista Flute, Emmanuel Flute, Emerson Flute, Yamaha (Student model) Flute, Jonathan Landell Flute, Tom Lacy Flute, Andrew Oxley Flute, Webb & Wessel Flute and recently Eloy Flute, Gemeinhart Flute and Burkart Flute.


  • My Favorite Encores (Southern Music)
  • Paul Taffanel: Mignon Fantasie (Southern Music)
  • J.S. Bach: Six Sonatas for Flute and Keyboard (Vol. 1 and 2) (Chester)
  • Sir Arthur Sullivan Twilight for 2 Flutes and Piano (Emerson Edition)
  • Paul A. Genin: Air Napolitain (Alry Publications)
  • Faure: Fantaisie for 2 Flutes and Piano (Alry Publications)
  • J.S. Bach: Sinfonia Cantata No.209 (Pan Educational Music)
  • Chopin: Nocturne in D-flat. for 2 Flutes and Piano (Alry Publications)
  • C.Benson : Song for Wibb (Pan Educational Music)
  • W.A.Mozart: Adagio and Rondo (Pan Educational Music)
  • Paul Taffanel : Jean de Nivelle (Broekmans & Van Poppel B.V)
  • Paul Taffanel : Francesca di Rimini (Broekmans & Van Poppel B.V)
  • "Wibb" A Flute for Life by Edward Blakeman ( Tony Bingham )


Too numerous to list here. For a more comprehensive list—Visit – ( [1] )

Beep records[edit]

  • BEEP 27: Works for Flute and Piano – Taffanel: Operatic Fantasies – William Bennett, flute, & Clifford Benson, piano.
  • BEEP 28: Live at Wigmore Hall – Works for Flute and Piano – Bach, Mozart, Schubert. Mendelssohn, Ries. Reinecke – William Bennett, flute, Clifford Benson, piano
  • BEEP 29: Works for Flute and Orchestra by Nielsen, Reinecke, Dvořák, Sibelius and Elgar – William Bennett, flute, English Chamber Orchestra, Shuntaro Sato, conductor.
  • BEEP 30: Caprice Parisien – Works for Flute and Guitar – Ibert. Massenet. Debussy etc.- William Bennett, flute, Jonathan Leathwood, guitar.
  • BEEP 31: Works for Flute and Orchestra – Haydn. Hanson. Honneger. Griffes. Kennan. Foote – William Bennett, flute, English Chamber Orchestra, Shuntaro Sato & Nicholas Cleobury, conductors.
  • BEEP 32: Flute Quintets with Allegri String Quartet – Romberg, Jan Brandts Buys – William Bennett, flute, Allegri String Quartet.
  • BEEP 33: Four Concertos for a New Era – Burrell, Mathias, Musgrave & Pineda – William Bennett, flute, English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Raimundo Pineda & Richard Bernas.
  • BEEP 34: Mountains Toward the Sea – Works for Flute and Guitar – Beaser, Coste, Dodgson, Molino, Takemitsu – William Bennett, flute, Jonathan Leathwood, guitar.
  • BEEP 35: Works by Mozart for Flute and orchestra, including Flute & Harp Concerto, Rondo, Andante in C and Concerto for Basset Flute – William Bennett, flute, Marisa Robles, harp, English Chamber Orchestra, directed by William Bennett.
  • BEEP 36: Bach Concertos for Flute and two Flutes – works by Rameau, Gluck, Beethoven, Haydn – William Bennett, flute, Denis Bouriakov, flute, English Chamber Orchestra, directed by William Bennett.
  • BEEP 37: William Bennett's Melodies and Encores – Brahms, Chopin, Elgar, Mendelssohn, etc. – William Bennett, flute, Clifford Benson, piano.
  • BEEP 38: Great Works for Flute and Piano – Schubert, Frank, Hahn, Dohnanyi, Prokofiev – William Bennett, flute, and Clifford Benson, piano.
  • BEEP 39: Flute Concertos by CPE Bach in D major and D minor and Telemann concertos for two flutes and strings -William Bennett, flute, and Unji Chung, flute & flute tierce, English Chamber Orchestra & London Octave, directed by William Bennett.
  • BEEP 40: Sibelius Concerto, Bach Chaconne Kreisler, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns – Denis Bouriakov, flute, Robin Davis, piano.
  • BEEP 41: Mel Bonis Sonata, Brahms Waltzes – William Bennett, flute, John Lenahan, piano, Lorna McGhee, flute, Emma Halnan, alto flute and flute.
  • BEEP 42 Debussy Sonata – Lorna McGhee, flute, Piers Lane, piano.

Personal life[edit]

Usually known by his initials, WIBB, Bennett has two daughters from his first marriage in 1961 to cellist Rhuna Martin. His eldest daughter, Vanora Bennett, is a writer; his younger daughter is an Arabist, who works as a translator for the international organizations. In 1981, he remarried Michie, a fellow flautist who is now producer and director of Beep Records; they have one son, Timothy, a Sinologist. Michie has run the International Flute Summer School for 35 years.

Having grown up in a family circle of artists and painters, Bennett is a talented artist and cartoonist who draws with great pleasure and designs many of his own album covers.

External links[edit]