Interview with François Leleux.

Interview with François Leleux.

We are already back to work after the leave due to the birth of our son Daniel. Thank you all very much for the congratulations! Our website is already open for all of you. In it you will find all the necessary products related to oboe and oboe reeds. Also remember that we ship worldwide.

And what better way to start than with the interview with the world-famous oboist François Leleux. From EG-REEDS we want to thank him for his collaboration and the time spent in this interview. It is very interesting and funny, we hope you like it!

François Leleux oboe. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Millot

François Leleux. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Millot


How were your beginnings in music / with the oboe? Where there more musicians in the family?

Nobody in my family played music professionally.
I started playing oboe when i was 6 years old. My parents were not musicians but wanted us to be educated away from home because my brother and me were too energetic. :).


Which teacher has influenced you the most?  How do you remember the time were you studied?

I must say that I learned a lot from Maurice Bourgue. The time of my studying was special, because I was in the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris when I was 14 years old. All the other students were around 20 years and it was a very big difference of age. Some of them were extremely nice to me (like Jerome Guichard principal oboe at the Orchestre national de Lyon now) and some others were quite mean and jealous.


What type of oboe do you play and why did you choose it?

I play Marigaux M2, and I like it very much. I did develop this instrument with Marigaux and Michel Croquenoy . He was one of my heroes. The M2 oboe has an amazing homogeneity and a pretty good intonation, which is so important for a good sound.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a professional oboe player? When and why did you decided become a professional conductor? 

I decided to become a professional at 14 years old when I started my superior studies in Paris. At 15 years old I was already playing with Orchestre National de France with Lorin Maazel (in the orchestra).

Lorin Maazel inspired me a lot to be a conductor, as well as Mariss Jansons. On the top of it, the conductors, concert promoters, orchestra members told me that I looked like a born conductor when I played my concert as a soloist. I studied a bit with Daniel Barenboim and I had a great discussion with Lorin Maazel about conducting. For me this is a natural prolongation of my musical journey…
I started as a principal conductor of a chamber orchestra for 2 years when I was 25 years old.



If you had to highlight an oboe repertoire, what would it be and why?

It would be MacMillan oboe concerto, Qigang Chen Extase, Lebrun, Hummel, Mozart, Schuncke, Leighton, Bacri, Pécou, Tanguy, etc……. I believe we have a big repertory and we have so many pieces which are so great, we need to be curious and just try to play 60% of it during our life, because trying everything is not possible!


How were your beginnings in the orchestra?

It was difficult: I was 10 years old and I was extremely nervous. It was in my hometown, Roubaix, with the big students and me (15 years younger than the other students) I was trying to count my bars and not miss the entry!
I even broke my reed by mistake, just before the solo of Unfinished Symphony by Schubert. The conductor was the director of the music school and I didn’t have much fun at that time. After that, I played a lot with wind orchestra (every Friday), and later, at 15 years old, when I started to play in Orchestre National de France it was ok …..Matter of experience.


What is the repertoire in the orchestra with which you feel most identified / the one you like the most?

Brahms Symphonies and Ravel Daphnis and Chloe.


You have recorded and collaborated on a long list of albums, but which is your favorite album?

Le Charme Du Hautbois, with Italian oboe pieces. This is dedicated to one of my teachers Pierre Pierlot.

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What director or soloist has made the most impression on your work in the orchestra or chamber music?

Daniel Barenboim, Mariss Jansons, Steven Isserlis, Jean Pierre Rampal, Maurice André, Emmanuel Pahud etc….


Do you remember any funny story that happened to you on stage?

Yes, I like to do jokes, and I did pretend to lose a few keys of my oboe in the concert. It was with BRSO, and the 8 symphonie of Bruckner. Then, just before the solo, at the beginning, I let fall some keys of my old oboe, pretending it was from my new oboe ….. everyone was so concerned and tense, I loved it !!!

Leleux 3 oboes

Source: François Leleux


You have won many important competitions in the oboe world. How do you prepare yourself for competitions? What advice can you give to oboist that now are preparing for oboe competitions? 

The best to prepare is a constant work and practice like 3 hours a day, and learning the repertory in 2 phases with a break of 2 to 3 weeks (The break is for the repertory, not for practicing !!)


Do you have some ritual for oboe reed making or for oboe practicing? Do you have a special daily routine for fingering or air column?

I like to do some scale, especially Mi b major or Mi major … For the reed I play the reed as long as they get good. Do not give up too early on a reed, the oboe reed need to get use to vibrate!


How is your oboe class at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München?

With a great atmosphere and not too big. I want to be able to take care of each student, to appreciate each talent and help as much as they deserve. Therefore, a small number of students is important to me.
I like as well to transmit my passion to them.


How do you see the oboe scene in your country these days?

I believe the level is better and better and I like very much to hear the younger generation. I can say that I like very much the style of oboe they play.


People have asked us a lot of questions about what exercises you specifically do or how you mentally prepare yourself for a concert, but what advice would you give to oboe students?

When you practice at home, try to project yourself in the situation of the competition, or concert, or examination. Be well organized in your schedule, play every day and be resilient.


What do you like to do in your free time when you are not with the oboe or conducting?

To hear Jazz, to cook with my wife, to play table tennis or soccer with my son, and to smoke cigars!!

Leleux instagram


What are your future projects (upcoming concerts, classes …)?

Just now my first CD as conductor with works by Bizet and Gounod with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra; Linn Records.

Leleux - Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Bizet,Gounod)

Leleux – Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Bizet,Gounod)


With Les vents Français a “Romantique” CD will be out in June with works by Klughardt, Spohr, Onslow, also on Warner label.

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As well: a Warner CD recital “Bienvenue en France ” with Emmanuel Strosser with works by Dutilleux, Debussy, Saint Saens, Pécou, Pierne and Sancan, will come out in October.

I will conduct BBC Scotland, Salzburg Camerata, Birmingham SO, WDR, Hessiche Rundfunk SO, Orchestre National of Lille, Hungarian Philharmonic etc…..recitals with Emmanuel Strosser as well, and a lot of chamber music!







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