Peter-Lukas Graf has generally been regarded as among the finest Swiss flutists of his generation. He has also been hailed as a conductor, and his three publications on flute playing and interpretation have been indispensable to students and virtuosos of the instrument across the globe, necessitating translation of the works into multiple languages, including Japanese and Chinese. In addition, Graf has taught flute for years and made numerous recordings. His repertory is broad, taking in works of J.S. and C.P.E. Bach, Boccherini, Pergolesi, Mozart, Krommer, Doppler, Reinecke, Khachaturian, Villa-Lobos, and many more. Graf's broad discography is spread across many labels, including Claves, Danacord, Divox, Musiques Suisses, and Brilliant Classics.
Peter-Lukas Graf was born in Zurich, Switzerland, on January 5, 1929. He studied flute with André Jaunet in Zurich and later at the Paris Conservatory with Roger Cortet and Marcel Moyse. He also studied conducting at the Paris Conservatory with Eugene Bigot, earning a diploma. Graf was awarded first prize in flute performance there as well.
At the age of 21 Graf made a critically acclaimed recording of the Ibert Flute Concerto, which instantly gave him international notice. Nevertheless, he would go on to study conducting in Munich for three more years. In 1953 Graf won first prize in flute performance at the ARD International Music Competition in Munich. He went onto to serve as the principal flutist with the Winterthur Symphony Orchestra (1951-1957). From 1957 he played flute in the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and also took to the podium on occasion to lead the ensemble. In 1958 Graf was given the Harriet Cohen International Music Award in London.
By 1960 Graf was turning his focus, at least temporarily, to conducting: he was appointed conductor at the Lucerne State Theater, serving from 1961-1967, a period during which he led many opera performances. He also freelanced with orchestras in Europe and still managed to give occasional flute concerts.
In 1973 Graf was appointed professor of music at the Basle Music Academy. In the coming years he would turn out a spate of highly praised recordings, including a number involving Mozart: his performances of the Mozart Flute Concertos No. 1 & No. 2 (now available on Brilliant Classics), with Raymond Leppard and the English Chamber Orchestra, drew lavish international praise. Graf still serves on the faculty at the Basle Music Academy and is active on the concert scene, largely in Switzerland. ~ Robert Cummings