Born in Lille, France in 1957, Philippe Cuper is one of the best representatives of the famous French School of clarinet playing. A product of the Northern French town band movement, Cuper was fortunate to receive early training from Gilbert Voisin (himself a disciple of Louis Cahuzac) and at various summer schools taught by Jaques Lancelot.

When he turned 19, Cuper joined the French air force band and was made first clarinet. After two years, he moved on to become first clarinet for the Concerts Lamoureux. While with the Lamoureux, he continued studying the clarinet, now under Guy Dangain, and also studied musicology at the Sorbonne.

In 1980, Cuper graduated with exceptionally high honors from Guy Deplus’ clarinet class at the Paris Conservatoire and was awarded a Premier Prix for chamber music in 1981. He joined the Orchestre de la Garde Republicaine and the World Youth Orchestra while continuing to study the clarinet, mainly with Henri Druart, but also with advice from Stanley Drucker of New York’s Juilliard School of Music. He received his own teaching degree in 1982.

Since 1984, Cuper has worked as a Premier Soloist with the Paris Opera Orchestra, and has also played with the Orchestre de Paris, the Orchestre National, the Orchestre Philharmonique, and with numerous Parisian ensembles, including Ars Nova, Musique Vivante, and others. He has performed withJohn Eliot Gardiner at the Opera de Lyon and with Alain Lombard in the Orchestre de Bordeaux.

Cuper founded the Octuor à Vent de Paris in 1986, and has continued to play with them and groups such as Flexus, Arpeggione, and the trio he founded with viola player Noelle Santos and pianist Cécile Hugonnard-Roche. He has worked with such famous conductors as Mehta, Ozawa, Sawallisch, Maazel Boulez, Pretre, and Barenboim, and has performed chamber music alongside Badura-Skoda, Chung, Ricci, Wallez, Prat, Dalberto, Cassard, Henkel, and many, many others. He has also played with several quartets, including Takals, Parisii, Rosamonde, and Bernéde.

Philippe Cuper has won an impressive list of prizes at major international competitions in Verscelli, Geneva, Munich, and Prague, and is currently on the panel of the Munich Contest. He has pursued a parallel career abroad at festivals in Montreux, Prague, Cacovia, London, Rio, and other cities with the Czech Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Richmond Orchestra in the United States. Cuper has given masterclasses at the University of Virginia, the Lisbon Conservatoire, the Prague Academy, and in Japan and other countries. He currently teaches at the Versailles Conservatoire. Through the Menuhin Foundation, he often plays for hospitals and prisons.

He has made several recordings, including Weber’s complete clarinet concertos, which critics have hailed as one of the best recordings of this work. Cuper is included in Pamela Weston’s Book Clarinet Virtuosi of the Present.