Fétis informs us that Collinet began his career as a flutist at the Théâtre des Variétés before changing to the flageolet. Following the addition of extra keys, he was able to play it “with a level of skill previously unknown” and was therefore encouraged by Julien Charchies, the director of the Orchestre de Contredanses, to apply his skill to dance music. The result was apparently such a success that soon “no-one wanted to dance in Paris without the sound of Collinet”.
In addition to playing and teaching, the elder Collinet seems to earned a living arranging orchestras for balls and dance music at his homes. The scope of his publishing was quite large, both for the flageolet and other instruments. An advert printed on the back cover of one of his works lists a “Catalogue de la musique de Flageolet” which can be purchased from Collinet “master of music, professor of the flageolet, and organisers of the dance orchestra”. It contains 32 separate works, mostly by Collinet, with some by C. Eugéne Roy and Jules Gard. They range from tutors, collections of dances, duos for various combinations of instruments, and some more substantial works such as quartets for flageolet, violin, viola and bass and a concerto for flageolet and orchestra.
Furthermore, an advert in the 1822 “Bibliographie Musicale” reveals that, in this period, he was importing William Bainbridge’s “flútes doubles” and “flageolet doubles perfectionnés” into France, suggesting at least some interaction between the two men.
Some flageolets (and other woodwind instruments) were also sold stamped with the name “Collinet”. Since there are no references to him being an instrument maker, and the skills required for instrument building are not usually combined with virtuoso playing, it is likely that they were made by another, anonymous, maker, either to Collinet’s specifications or as generic instruments which were to be stamped with his name as vendor.
The flageolets stamped with the name “Collinet” are found in two types: ones that look not dissimilar from other 19th Century classical French flageolets and those that have a distinctive style, being made with a recorder-style mouthpiece and two keys. These latter instruments, which might be conveniently termed Collinet flageolets could have been those which were advocated by Hubert Collinet in his Handbook for the Flageolet. The New Langwill Index notes that Oscar Comettant, writing in 1869, stated that instruments by this “incomparable flageolettiste” were exceptionally expensive and cost 150 francs.
Collinet is reported to have published a number of pieces, of which only a few appear to have survived. These include two concertos for flageolet and orchestra and a quartet for flageolet, violin, viola and ’cello as well as a large number of dances for various ensembles and solos and duets for the flageolet.