JEAN HENRY 1910 – 2005

We are sad to announce the death of Jean Henry on October 27th 2005 at the age of 95

Many British recorder players will remember Jean Henry, the dynamic pioneer of the recorder movement in France.

He discovered the recorder in 1937 and immediately realised its possibilities as an instrument for use in schools. Having begun by using the German-fingered models available at that time, finding the first plastic instruments made by Dolmetsch was a revelation to him. From 1952 to 1961 he attended many recorder courses including those organised by the SRP at Roehampton, and thus the whole vast spectrum of the instrument, its repertoire and its potential. was opened up to him.

From 1962 to 1968 he collaborated closely with Edgar Hunt in organising two courses each year, one in France and the other in England.

He published a method in four volumes which was intended for use in French primary and secondary schools, and he encouraged the editor Zurfluh in Paris to import instruments of quality, and sheet music.

From 1971 to 1973 he organised several courses in Italy and then from 1975 to 1995, the “Rencontres Internationales de Musique Ancienne et Danses de Cour”, first in Aurillac, then in Douai, and finally in Arras. More or less all French professional recorder players participated in these courses at some time. Carried along by his fervour, instructors Edgar Hunt and Kees Otten headed an ever-expanding team and at their height the courses catered for nearly 300 participants!

His energy and enthusiasm were infectious and appreciated by all. His solid musical knowledge (he was originally a professional violinist) was always his guiding principle. He had a true “missionary” spirit and all who knew him respected his generosity and kindness. He will be long remembered.

Beverly Barbey (Smith)

Jean Henry – further background by his daughter, Michèle

Jean HENRY played the violin until 1948, conducting the orchestra and choir and in his town of Sartrouville (as well as other musical activities) where he was a music teacher from 1936 till 1973.

It is not entirely certain how he first came in contact with the recorder.

From 1955 onwards, under the Patronage of The Ligue Francaise de l Enseignement, he attended recorder courses with two important training centres of the time: the “Recorder in Education” of the Society of Recorder Players in Roehampton from 1956 till 1961 with Carl Dolmetsch; and with the “Volkshochschule für Musik” at Neukölln-Berlin in Germany from 1957 à 1961 with Rudolf Barthel and Linde Höffer.

In 1960 he was honoured as Professor “honoris causa” of the SRP and became one of the first recorder teachers in France.

As a result of the enthusiasm generated in him by his studies, Jean Henry inspired pupils from the start, and spread the spirit of “making music at home as well as in school”, till then an unknown tradition in France.

He collaborated in the pursuit of this with Edgar Hunt in England for some time after 1962, but it was a long-lived campaign in France.

His first contacts with England and of course Carl Dolmetsch, were due to a happy coincidence when he saw in a shop in Paris by surprise a plastic Dolmetsch recorder with double holes and English fingering. He immediately wanted to introduce the musical Dolmetsch Family to the French Public. He used to call them the “Reincarnation of the Bachs”!).

He organised the first public recital in France by Carl Dolmetsch together with Nathalie Dolmetsch and Joseph Saxby at the UFOLEA conference at Lorient on the 22nd May 1956.

The enormous success of this and the momentum generated resulted in a two-part Gala Concert on the 7th of January 1960, given by the whole Dolmetsch Family at the Paris Theatre Récamier. Carl, Marie, Nathalie, Jeanne, Francois, Marguerite and Richard accompanied by Joseph Saxby and the Orchestre de Chambre de l Association Symphonique des Membres de l Enseignement Public and the Choir of the Lycée de Sévres, played works from Schmelzer to Francis Poulenc not forgetting Telemann, Marais and Couperin and many other composers.

Both concerts were broadcast on the 30th of August and 13th of September the same year, on the French cultural radio FRII to the whole country. And every teacher was informed by letter to enable his class-pupils to listen to them on the radio during school-time!!

See also

Last updated 26 July 2013