Peter (Pierre Jaillard) Bressan


French musician. One of the most important and famous recorder makers of his time. He was born in Bourg-en-Bresse in 1663. At the age of 15 he was placed as an apprentice to the woodturner Pierre Boissier (from 1678 till 1680). At 17 he left Bourg and probably moved to Paris and learned the craft of woodwind making in the early 1680's. Possibly there he was connected to Rippert or some of the members of the Hotteterre family. Bressan left France when he was 25 years old, settlng in England in 1688. He is mentioned in a catalogue of musical instruments by James Talbot, compiled in about 1690. The recorders Talbot used as examples were made by Bressan - which would indicate that he had a considerable reputation as a recorder-maker by this date. According to a 1691 archive, he was oboist for King William the 3rd. Sometime before 1712, he must have moved to England, for in this year Bressan appears in the records of the Parish of St Mary-le-Strand, and in 1716 the vestry minutes record 'that Mr Peter Bressoon be overseer for the year ensuing'. Between 1718-1724, Bressan was involved in a publishing venture, which does not seem to have been entirely successful. This may indicate either that his powers as an instrument maker were waning, or possibly that the recorder was no longer so popular, for by this time it was beginning to be superseded by the transverse flute. This instrument was more variable in tone, and more suitable for the newer music being composed at this time. The Rate Book for the parish for 1717 mentions Bressan as being 'poor'. The last mention of him is in 1731, so that we can presume that he died 1731/2, although his daughter continued to live in Duchy Lane in the same parish for some years afterwards.

VIIA: Henry Purcell and his Contemporaries