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I know Fred Hemke won (if that's the right word) it back in 1956, but what exactly is "First Prize" (Premier Prix) at Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris? For a saxophonist, does it mean they are the best in the class? Or is it like our "With Honors" or "With High Honors", that more than one (saxophonist) could win it? Or is it something else altogether?

And while I'm on the subject - I think Hemke was the first U.S. citizen to win one in saxophone. Have any other U.S. citizens won it? Is there a list somewhere of winners?
 

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This is what I could find and it seems to be like the system you mention 'With Honors' etc. Replaced in 1990 with the Diplome Superieur.
Sorry, it's in French.

Conservatoire de Paris (Conservatoire Nationale Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris) Le Premier prix était un diplôme délivré par le conservatoire de Paris jusqu’au milieu des année 1990, quand il a été remplacé par le D.F.S., Diplôme Supérieur d’Exécution. Dans le cadre de l’application du Processus de Bologne il est aujourd’hui envisagé d’allonger d’un ou deux ans la durée des études en vue de le mener au niveau du grade de Master.
 

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first prize means the top dog.
 

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I believe its the equivlent of completing the degree program with top honors.
 

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The late Nestor Koval, my grad prof at Duquesne and Soprano with our Pittsburgh Quartet from the late 60's through the mid 80's, received a Premier Prix in Clarinet (with Ulysses Delacluse) in the early 50s prior to Hemke's achievement. He also taught Tim Eyermann, Bob Luckey (altissimo) and Denny Morouse (Stevie Wonder player - director). It was a delight and a challenge to play with him during those years. He was a real monster on stick.
 

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I was under the impression that the prize is your grade. More people can get first prize in a class just like more people can get an A. Thus first prize = A, second prize = B, etc. Since the school is so competitive, once you get first prize, you must leave (graduate) and your slot opens up for others.

Here is my attempt at translating Grumpie's post:

Le Premier prix était un diplôme délivré par le conservatoire de Paris jusqu’au milieu des année 1990, quand il a été remplacé par le D.F.S., Diplôme Supérieur d’Exécution. Dans le cadre de l’application du Processus de Bologne il est aujourd’hui envisagé d’allonger d’un ou deux ans la durée des études en vue de le mener au niveau du grade de Master.

The first prize was a diploma given by the conservatory of Paris until the middle of the 1990’s, when it was replaced by the D.F.S., Diploma of Superior Performance. In the setting of the application of Process of Bologne, it (D.F.S.) is now considered to lengthen by one or two years the duration of studies in aim of attaining the level of Master.
 

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Rick, your translation is excellent!
 

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Demolisher_2000 said:
Yeah, I was under the impression that you have to get the 1st prize in order to graduate. I think there is a time limit too.
I also hear that some have taken just one year to achieve the First Prize in saxo. Usually one would immediately return and earn a First Prize in Chamber Music, or some subject in composition.

Angel
 

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First Prize at Paris is akin to first class honours. Not top of the class.
In the French system a student will study at a regional/local conservatoire. For example, with Vincent David in Versailles. They will then hope to successfully audition for Claude's class at the CNSDMP, where they will further their studies.
For example, Julien Petit studied with MBC in Bordeaux, then David in Versailles, before studying with Claude in Paris.
 

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il est aujourd’hui envisagé d’allonger d’un ou deux ans
it (D.F.S.) is now considered to lengthen by one or two years
My take on this is, "it is now envisaged extending by one or two years."

I'm hoping for an Excellent Plus from Silvin, although I suppose I could always get a raspberry!
 

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Your translation Pinnman is cool too!
 

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Nestor

DD said:
The late Nestor Koval, my grad prof at Duquesne and Soprano with our Pittsburgh Quartet from the late 60's through the mid 80's, received a Premier Prix in Clarinet (with Ulysses Delacluse) in the early 50s prior to Hemke's achievement. He also taught Tim Eyermann, Bob Luckey (altissimo) and Denny Morouse (Stevie Wonder player - director). It was a delight and a challenge to play with him during those years. He was a real monster on stick.
Nestor was all about tone... "make every single note as pretty and round as you can," he would say. I started with him in my junior year of high school, and then two years with him at Duquesne... but I never saw that man smile -- not once -- for most of that first year. He was tough.

Perhaps one of the most notable products of Nestor's teaching today is Marshall McDonald, lead alto of the Count Basie Band (and formerly with the Lionel Hampton Band). More on Marshall is available at http://www.marshallmcdonald.com/

Nestor was "total cool," but also all business... and yes, a "real monster on stick."
 

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FWIW, just a few years ago when I was a student at Duquesne, certain faculty members were quite complimentary when describing Koval.

Angel
 

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I had a personal friend (violinist) who received the Premier Prix. It was my impresson at the time that, while it was competitive, that did not mean that someone would win it. If the jury felt no one met the hight standards, it would go unawarded. Being awarded it meant in no uncertain terms, that you played your buns off. And not just technically but with artistry.
 

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I don't have it handy now, but I'm fairly certain that Eugene Rousseau's bio of Mule has photos of each of Mule's classes at the Conservatoire from 1942-1967, including a listing for each year's prize winners. I'll check when I'm back in the office.
JR
 

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Trent Kynaston won the Medaille d'Honneur (Medal of Honor) at Bordeaux in saxo and chamber music. I remember him saying that it was something you had to achieve to graduate. Seems like a similar designation.
 
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