This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Jun 12, 2012

Hottetotte : The Concerto for Nose Flute

Folks, what is following deserves all your attention :

On the Brethren Brass website, one can read :

« A contemporary of Franz Joseph Haydn, Jean-Marie Hottetotte considered himself "France's Haydn" although the French public actually despised his music. Hottetotte was intensely jealous of the success of Haydn's Trumpet Concerto and attempted to write a trumpet concerto himself, but was unsuccessful at securing a trumpet player who would even look at the score. The only musician that would associate with Hottetotte at all, was a classical nasenfloete player (the only known such player in the world) named Ulrich Nels from the remote village of Rhone-Alpes. Nose flutes had been used for centuries in Africa to call birds, but such a musical undertaking took two years for Nels to perfect. A public premiere of Hottetotte's “Concerto Pomposo” for Nasenfloete and Orchestra was heavily publicized for May 21, 1755, but was abruptly canceled due to it being the height of the hay fever season in France. Ulrich Nels was simply unable to play the nose flute during this unfortunate period. What few friends and investors Hottetotte had, pulled their support and had Hottetotte tarred and feathered. The public humiliation drove Hottetotte to live out the rest of his life in a home for the mentally ill. He died a peasant in 1781. Unfortunately, one score of “Concerto Pomposo” survived. »

And the website propose two mp3 recordings, of the 1st and 3rd movements of the Concerto Pomposo, unfortunately played with a 'modern' shepherd's crook cornet, not on a nose flute.

The Brethren Brass explains the reason of the missing second movement :

« Trumpeter Robert Miller has tempted fate, and has premiered “Concerto Pomposo” on the 'modern' shepherd's crook cornet. Although Hottetotte had completely rewritten the concerto to take full advantage of the effects of the nose flute, Miller was able to make a somewhat indifferent effort at some of the unusual motifs and was fairly successful at performing the first and last movements. The second (remaining) movement was so irritating and poorly written that Miller refused to even read the part. Cadenzas in the other movements were not attempted because they exisisted only as opportunities for the nose flutist to empty his nasal cavities into a small clay pot that sat next to the conductor's podium. In a tribute to Hottetotte and Nels, Miller chose to silently empty his spit valves during these short pauses in the music. »

But hopefully, we know a real nose flute version of this eighteen-century major work, already presented in this blog, and interpretated by Mr. Kentucky T. Dutchersmith and the Maple City Chamber Orchestra :


Well, you already understood it, all of that is an international farce!
Jean-Marie Hottetotte is a fictitious composer and the Concerto Pomposo for nose flute is a joke... But where did it come from ? It has been, contrarywise, really composed and written somewhere by someone!

Ulrich Nehls (with a "h" after the "e") is a (real) german musician and composer, born in 1959 in Husum. Nehls studied church music in Heidelberg and Berlin. In 1986 he won the first prize in the improvisation training centers contest of Frankfurt.

In 2000, he invented the fictitious composer Jean-Marie Hottetotte :

« All of that was strongly influenced by Schickele's book 'the definitive biography of P.D.Q. Bach' which contains a lot of funny stories about (supposed) contemporarians of P.D.Q. Bach (who himself is, of course, a fictional figure.) And I wrote that music myself, yes. »

« I have written some more pieces under the name of P.D.Q. Bach. (...) One of the biggest successes in those concerts was, by the way, another piece we foisted on P.D.Q. Bach - a so called "Aria con publico". We took reference to the often unpleasant soundings of auditors during concerts - you know what I'm talking about - all that rustling, whispering, talking, grabbing in handbags, cell phone sounds and the like, and thought we might integrate all those annoyances in a baroque piece by P.D.Q. Bach. »

When I reached Ulrich Nehls by mail, he told me he didn't know the existence of the Brethren Brass nor Kentucky T. Dutchersmith's existences. Even less, so, of the recordings and videos of his concerto for nose flute. « I didn't know about that orchestra performance from the USA - believe me, I heard that piece the first time since our 2003 performance (...) Our first performance of it was in spring 2000. »

However, Ulrich Nehls has put this work in the public domain, and the music sheets for all the instruments (Flute, Oboe, 2 Tromboones, 2 Trumpets, Nose flute, Strings) can be freely downloaded on IMSLP library.

Here is the nose flute part :

Where did the name Hottetotte come from ?

« It is an innuendo to both the name of composer Hotteterre and the african tribe of the 'Hottentotten' (Hereros; Germans know that name because Namibia used to be a german colony decades ago. Unfortunately the name "Hottentotten" (which is taken from the Africaans language) seems to be a racist and derisive verb for these black people, but I didn't know that when we made these performances in 2001.) »

Unanimously with congratulations, the NFHoF jury (me and my cat Patafix) decided to welcome Jean-Marie Hottetotte in the Nose Flute Hall of Fame!


Links :

- Ulrich Nehls' website
- Ulrich Nehls' Youtube channel
- Ulrich Nehls' music on IMSLP library


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