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Aurèle Nicolet

“the Jura”


My cousin Dimitri Vecchi, native of Tavannes, and myself, a child from Mont-Soleil sur Saint-Imier, in the southern Jura, we were young flute students at the La Chaux-de-Fonds Conservatory in the early 1980s. , in Jean-Philippe Schaer's class. At the time, we benefited from the kindness and competence of Robert Faller, who was still directing the conservatory shortly before his premature death.

Aurèle Nicolet really felt at home in “his” “  Jura Mountains” and loved coming back there. I can still hear him say in his beautiful deep voice “  what a pleasure to cross these Franches-Montagnes! » when he was traveling from Basel to La Chaux-de-Fonds by car.

In an interview with music critic Denise de Ceunick (DdeC) in 2005, he explained:


“Through my father, a chemistry professor, I am from Neuchâtel where I did my humanities, and from Tramelan.

Through my mother, née Perret, I am from Brenets: that is my country! ".

He added: “Marcel Moyse was my first transverse flute teacher”,


while this guest master of Charles Faller came occasionally to the Conservatoire des Montagnes.

In 1945, immediately after the liberation, Aurèle Nicolet joined Marcel Moyse in Paris where he continued his studies: “Paris is the best instrumental school…” he said.


My meeting with Aurèle Nicolet took place within the walls of this Conservatory during a one-week “masterclass”, organized by the Rotary Club in October 1983. On the occasion of the final concert in Locle, Aurèle Nicolet asked to Philippe Racine who came to pay us an impromptu visit:

“Would you be willing to do an improvisation at tonight’s concert, like you did for the encore during your last exams? »

Philippe Racine accepted and his phenomenally creative improvisation was a real revelation for me. Suddenly, in addition to Aurèle Nicolet, I became a big “fan” of Philippe Racine. In his improvisation, he embodied all the qualities: total mastery in the service of pure and spontaneous expression in a relaxed state of mind, “tongue-in-cheek” humor but with great rigor. “High voltage current!” a young man to watch closely” according to DdeC in its review. This performance opened my eyes and ears to the possibilities of such a musical attitude, thank you Philippe.

After this masterclass, the conditions were therefore met to promote the construction of a more intimate educational and friendly relationship between us and Aurèle Nicolet. Without being a regular student in his class, I was able to benefit from his lessons for 3 years. My strongest visual memory is when I first entered the music studio in Oberwil. On the front door, an extraordinary photo: Aurèle playing with a bird which lands on his flute. I was fascinated by this image of a perfect connection with nature and the elements. For the auditory memory, a few seconds later, it was the warm and already powerful sound in the bass of Félix Renggli interpreting the 1st movement of A minor by C.Ph E Bach for solo flute. A sound recorded forever and a precise and clear image.

Most often, with my cousin Dimitri Vecchi, we participated in these master classes in Oberwil. It was a huge pleasure, with a lot of pressure. Because after hearing several flautists, Italian, German, Japanese... very famous... Aurèle Nicolet said: “Good! Now we are going to hear the Jura flautists.” It was a fantastic motivation for us.

Aurèle Nicolet's legacy is to have a passion for all the arts: this ability to nourish oneself and integrate culture into one's work as a musician, and not to isolate oneself musically with one's flute. I remember that the “autistic performer” flautist scared him and that he didn’t really like this slightly obsessed and fanatical fluto-flutistic way of only experiencing music through the flute.


“It’s better to make music than to consume it…”


he said in 2005 after a conference at Club 44, during an interview for L'Impartial. Aurèle Nicolet deplored the fact that a Conservatory “preserves”, that the study remains structured around the 18th and 19th centuries. He denounced the laziness of performers in the face of contemporary production, the arrogance of the musical class.

“Man needs utopia, music offers it to him…”.

For technical mastery and musicality, with Aurèle Nicolet, always judicious remarks and good advice which put on the trail of creativity to work on a passage, the famous transformation and the mastery of melodic orders.

“creates a shape”, “sings in the flute in unison”, “makes a trumpet sound in the mouthpiece”, “what is the continuo doing in this passage? » and for the most improbable contemporary passages, “find a sound yourself”.

During a course in the 2000s in La Chaux-de-Fonds, he offered work direction to a student. These were exactly the tracks we needed to practice creative and improvised music. At that moment, we looked at each other with Patrick Lehmann (famous classical trumpeter practicing jazz) to validate this proposition. A look that spoke volumes about the universal side of this musical direction. Personally, this philosophy and this musical approach continually help me in my work of instrumental mastery in the service of the creative and improvised flute.

I often think of him listening to us, his position with his arms crossed with his cigarette in front of his mouth without drawing too much on it, but letting a few curls of smoke escape before his eyes. During his visits to the Salle Faller in La Chaux-de-Fonds in the 1990s and 2000s, he liked to have a quick smoke, and even if the formal ban on smoking in public places was not yet in place. no one smoked in the newly renovated building. Fortunately, no one wanted to upset him for this!

In a photo from October 1983, Dimitri and I were playing a Sonata Trio by J.S Bach. I remember him approaching us to make us work, discreetly holding his lit cigarette between his fingers. This banal situation, which personally has never bothered me but would be unthinkable at the present time, was in a certain way the expression of a certain freedom of life, a freedom which took nothing away from the courtesy of great personalities of the 20th century.

Mathieu Schneider October 2016

3rd artistic week of Jura Neuchâtelois
from October 10 to 15, 1983

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Friends and colleagues from all over the world have transcribed their memories with Aurèle Nicolet:

András Adorján • Robert Aitken • Eckart Altenmüller • Philippe Bender • François Binet • Silvia Careddu • Robert Dick • Ana Domancic • Sophie Dufeutrelle • Riccardo Ghiani • Anna Grass • Renate Greiss • Michael Hasel • Mikael Helasvuo • Aoki Hiroshi • Barthold Kuijken • Veronika Nicolet • François Perret • Marina Piccinini • Peter Reidemeister • Vincent Rivier • Günter Rumpel • Mathieu Schneider • and Emmanuel Pahud

The numerous testimonies and images
show the unique personality of Aurèle
Nicolet. Insatiably curious, loving
philosophy as much as music, altruistic
and good living, he will have left his mark for a long time
the people who crossed his path 


A scholarly artist, demanding and passionate teacher, Aurèle Nicolet was much more than a flautist. His students and colleagues bear witness to the greatness of this musician.



Neuchâtel, Berlin, Freiburg am Breisgau • A demanding teacher • An extraordinary personality • An altruistic and generous being • An accomplished musician • Passionate about Bach and the Age of Enlightenment • Archive documents • Discography

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