Interview with Leone Busye

Dr. September Payne, 2004

Remembering my lessons with Leone at Boston University, School of Music, 1986

I had not quite finished my Masters degree when Louis Moyse retired from Boston University and Leone Buyse, Co-Principal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra became my new flute teacher for that final year. Her emersion in the French style of playing with Debost, Rampal and Marcel Moyse made our transition together easy, familiar.  Her attention to detail, yet ability to see the pig picture in all things enabled me to step outside myself, after spending 10 years of fastidious approach with the Moyse’s.Leone’s energy and professionalism make her one of the most sought after teacherstoday. Her personal and professional ethics rise above and are unmatched; save a handfull of persons I have ever heard about or met.  She will also tell it like it is, constructively and positively. Her extraordinarily fine musicianship towers over many, in terms of her ear, understanding of harmony, piano and brilliant flute playing. Over the years we havekept in touch and I invited her and her husband Michael Webster, another great musician,to perform at San Diego State University, in which I played on her recital. I fondly remember listening to her performances of concertos with her in my home. Many timesin my teaching I defer to her for words of wisdom when I need it. Seeing and listening to how hard a symphony member must work and being surrounded by her work ethic was a tribute to my education to her and my education. She is always in the news! For her latest accolade from NFA –CONGRATULATIONS LEONE! Leone Buyse will receive the National Flute Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award this August at the National Flute Association Convention.  This esteemed award has been given every year since 1991 to honor flutists who are considered the best and the brightest of the flute world. The debut award went to Jean-PierreRampal and since that time, luminaries from Julius Baker to Jeanne Baxtresser have joined the ranks.
 
Who was your most influential teacher?
It's really impossible to say who my mostinfluential teacher was because each of my majorteachers (David Berman, Joseph Mariano, MichelDebost, and Jean-Pierre Rampal) encouraged mymusical development in his own unique and veryinspiring way.  My one summer master class withMarcel Moyse in Boswil, Switzerland, was alsopivotal in my growth, even though it was onlythree weeks.
 
Do you have any “pre-concert” preparations or routine?
On the day of a concert I follow a fairly careful dietary regimen, avoiding caffeine and sugar. Ifmy performance is in the evening I'll eat a fairly substantial meal in the early afternoon and thenhave scrambled eggs a couple of hours before playing. I also try to do a few minutes of yoga, and (if I have the time) to power walk and take a refreshing shower in the late afternoon.
 
Which concert or teaching experience stands out most to you in your career?
Being summoned from a Symphony Hall audience and asked to sub on piccolo during a BostonSymphony concert in February of 1995 was an unexpected highlight of my professional life.At the time I was teaching at the University of Michigan and visiting Boston after having justperformed a concert and master class at the Hartt School. Leon Fleisher was soloist in a new
Lukas Foss concerto that evening, and remembered the location of my comp "retiree" seat so
that an usher could contact me while Ozawa was conducting a work for string orchestra. Therepertoire that night also included Dukas' "Sorcerer's Apprentice" and Ravel's "Daphnis andChloe," and piccoloist Geralyn Coticone had been stricken with stomach flu at 7:20 PM.Apparently every freelance flutist whom the personnel office contacted had declined theopportunity to perform those challenging works without rehearsal for a Symphony Hall audience,so I was the orchestra's last hope...I had exactly 40 minutes to practice on a borrowed piccolo after changing from street clothesinto the black suit Ozawa's personal assistant happened to be wearing.  (Fortunately we worethe same size!). When I arrived onstage during intermission Fenwick oriented me to varioustempi and then Ozawa made his entrance. The concert ended with Daphnis, and I'm sure theaudience wondered why Ozawa saved the final bow for the piccolo player, and also why theorchestra then began applauding wildly. I received a special review by Richard Dyer in theBoston Globe and a generous check from my former employer for helping out in an unexpectedcrisis. It was a delight to be back onstage with my friends playing such thrilling symphonicrepertoire, and it was also proof that music learned really well can remain in one's fingers andretrieved at a moment's notice when necessary!
 
What advice would you give flutists trying to establish a career in music?
Discover your own strengths and devise ways to share them and your passion for music. There is no one else with your unique contribution of attributes, and you must believe that that you can truly make a difference in our world.
 
What music do you listen to?
This may sound strange, but I tend not to listen a lot to music on a regular basis.  Much of each day is spent hearing others play in lessons or masterclasses or listening to myself practice, and my ears need a break in order to stay fresh. I do listen to classical repertoire that I'm curiousabout, and my taste in music runs from classical to ethnic (Tuvan thorat singing, for example) to jazz and country (I live in Texas, after all!). I even enjoy some of my stepson's heavy metal and guitar virtuosos, such as Steve Vai.
 
September Payne, Flute, DMA 2004