Samia Haddad Flamant: endearing, sensitive and sincere

Her name may not be very familiar to the general public, but Samia Flamant was one of the most talented pianists of her generation, and one of the main actors in musical life in Lebanon in the 1950s and 1970s. . Born Haddad on June 9, 1929 in Beirut, she came from a prestigious line of doctors and began studying medicine at the American University of Beirut, which she interrupted to devote herself fully to her musical passion.

At a very young age, Samia showed an aptitude for the piano and, with her first teacher, Mr. Bloch, completed the six-year piano program in just two seasons. After a waltz of more or less successful teachers (some were taking a nap, others cooking while Samia was doing her exercises!), she joined Michel Cheskinoff’s class at the National Conservatory. The latter will tell her, with his strong Russian accent, which will be decisive for her: “Now, you drop medicine and you only make music! »

In 1949, on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the death of Frédéric Chopin, the young pianist who had barely two years of Conservatory behind her won hands down the competition organized by Alba and the Polish diplomatic representation in Lebanon. The following year, Samia graduated from the Conservatoire with honors and left for Paris to perfect her skills at the École Normale de Musique. She finds with Jeanne Blancart, the assistant of Alfred Cortot, a teacher to her measure. Cortot’s piano method was then famous throughout the world and was based on natural physical principles.

Although no longer teaching, Alfred Cortot attends public masterclasses. “He was fierce and made fun of the pianists”*, says Samia who refuses to play in front of him. But this fear is unfounded, because when the young girl takes her license exam, Cortot, who is a member of the jury, showers her with compliments!

As soon as she returned from Paris in December 1955, Samia Haddad took part in the founding of the Jeunesses Musicales du Liban association and, at the end of 1956, married Maurice Flamant. His family life then takes over the music. “Four children, no more piano!” she exclaims. Samia Flamant quickly suffers from this estrangement from music. So when, in 1961, she learned that a professorship was vacant at the Conservatory, she submitted her application and went back to work.

From the mid-1960s, Samia Flamant was regularly invited to perform as part of the concerts of the orchestra of the Conservatoire but also of many cultural associations and embassies, artistic life being abundant and very varied in those years. in Beirut. She also has a rich life as a chamber musician and will have as partners instrumentalists such as Antoine Saad (violin), Éliane Magnan (cello), Jean-Pierre Bontemps (bassoon), Dominique Monnin (oboe), Aline Aoun (soprano), etc. . Alongside her activities as a concert performer, Samia Flamant is a much appreciated pedagogue. His students speak of his humility, his benevolence and his great culture.

In 1978, Samia Flamant moved to Nîmes in the south of France, where she lived until her death. She organizes a musical life there, giving many concerts, and pursues her educational mission with students “from 7 to 77 years old”.

At the same time, Samia Flamant takes up painting, an art which has always interested her but which she has never had the time to practice. She joined Pascal Thouvenin’s studio in Nîmes and, for fifteen years, painted numerous watercolors. She also learns to “write” icons and participates in exhibitions.

The last recital that Samia Flamant gave in Beirut dates back to April 4, 1998. She performed an anthology of pieces from the great repertoire (Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Bach), but also works by Lebanese composers (Toufic Succar, Boghos Gelalian, Wadia Sabra, Georges Baz, Karim Haddad).

A musician who is endearing, confident, sensitive and sincere all at the same time, Samia Flamant is one of those artists who find fulfillment in sharing their art without asking for anything in return. She applied herself, all her life, to “giving happiness” to those around her and this was for her the “greatest of rewards”. Samia Flamant died a few days ago at the age of 93.

*Quotes in quotation marks are from interviews with Samia Flamant between February and March 2022.

Her name may not be very familiar to the general public, but Samia Flamant was one of the most talented pianists of her generation, and one of the main actors in musical life in Lebanon in the 1950s and 1970s. . Born Haddad on June 9, 1929 in Beirut, she came from a prestigious line of doctors and began studying medicine at the University…

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