The international flute community was shocked and deeply saddened by the unexpected death of virtuoso flutist Robert Stallman in Boston on May 12, exactly one month before what would have been his 73rd birthday. A familiar name to many because of his publications and recordings, Stallman was an indefatigable transcriber and arranger of great music with 40 titles in the International Music Company catalog and dozens more in the catalogs of Carl Fischer, Doblinger, G. Schirmer, Schott’s Söhne, Edition Svitzer, Edwin Kalmus, and Ludwig Masters. His excellent books on technique include The Flutist’s Handbook (Carl Fischer); The Flutist’s Détaché Book: 88 Studies, Caprices and Solos in the Art of Articulation (G. Schirmer); and Flute Workout: 14 Melodic Exercises for Technical Mastery (International). Among his astonishing 44 original arrangements of Mozart, 39 of which are for flute and strings, over a dozen have already been published.
Impressive as these accomplishments may be, Stallman’s remarkable gifts as a transcriber/arranger comprise only one facet of his persona and extraordinary international career. After graduating in 1968 from the New England Conservatory as a top prize-winning student of James Pappoutsakis, he moved to Paris, where we first met as 21-year-old fellow Fulbright recipients. I was immediately struck by Bob’s enthusiasm and genuine joie de vivre, and we quickly became good friends. He loved music, he loved the flute, and he loved life.
We were both studying with Gaston Crunelle at the Paris Conservatory, and at that time Bob was also studying privately with Alain Marion and Jean-Pierre Rampal. Meanwhile he had begun attending Rampal’s summer classes in Nice, where we would later study together in 1969 and 1970.
Bob’s playing in those classes was fabulous – imaginative, technically brilliant, and always generously communicative. Jean-Louis Beaumadier, internationally renowned piccolo soloist, recording artist and former professor at the Marseille Conservatory writes:
I met Bob for the first time in 1968 at the Académie in Nice. He was already a truly great flutist, and the exchanges between him and Jean-Pierre Rampal, whom he adored, were extraordinary! He was a master flutist endowed with a beautiful sonority, uncommon technical gifts, and an impressive power of communication.
Bob impressed Rampal deeply, to the extent that they would later perform together at Boston’s Symphony Hall in 1979, at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in 1981, and at Carnegie Hall in a duo recital in February 1984. The following year they recorded Luigi Hugues’s Grand Concert Fantasy for two flutes on Verdi’s The Masked Ball with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Placido Domingo. Rampal recognized in Bob an artist who was able to touch others with his generosity of spirit. That spirit can be heard on his many solo and chamber music recordings for Northeastern Records, ASV, VAI Audio, and his own label, Bogner’s Café, which he launched in 2006. His personal warmth delighted audiences at numerous festivals, including the one he founded in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
Bob Stallman was also a master teacher who enjoyed working with flutists of all ages. His passion for music and flute playing deeply inspired his many students at the New England Conservatory, the Boston Conservatory, the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and the Manhattan School of Music, as well as those whom he taught in master classes around the world. In the words of New York-based freelancer Joseph Trent:
I was fortunate to have Bob Stallman as my teacher for 4 years while at NEC…Before meeting Bob I only played the notes and rhythms from the pages. But from the first lesson, studying with him and hearing him play opened up a whole new world and language of expression…He showed me how to play between the notes and rhythms, and to realize that the notation is not the music, but merely the signposts. For this I am forever grateful for it changed me not only as a musician, but it opened my heart! He was and is still the most fabulous, stunning, sublime player and more importantly a truly remarkable human being who touched the lives of so many with his artistry, grace and humility, an example for us all.