John WionOn Aug 16 Andrea asked about fingering the passage from the Classical Symphony by Prokofiev:
Difficult Fingering in
Prokofiev Classical Symphony
Nancy wrote: "One of the controversies I ran up against was whether it was better to keep the air flowing in and out, or whether it is helpful to stop before beginning to play/exhale. I prefer the steady flow."
However, there were composers, highly respected in their lifetimes, who did write for the flute. Their music has been overshadowed by the greater geniuses who were their contemporaries, but this does not mean that their music was without value to us, and certainly not that it was without charm and elegance.
A good example of a composer known to performers today, but largely unperformed a generation ago, is Carl Reinecke (1824 - 1910). He was a second rate composer, in the best sense of the word, who was eclipsed by his contemporary, Brahms (1833 - 1897), but he gave us a most enjoyable concerto and sonata, as well as some chamber music (do listen to Fenwick Smith's gorgeous recording of the latter). Who were the Reineckes of the previous generations, Beethoven's (1770 - 1827) and Mendelssohn's (1809 - 1847) contemporaries?
Three years older than Beethoven was Bernhard Heinrich Romberg (1767 - 1841), the foremost cellist of his time. He began his career in the orchestra of the Elector at Bonn, Germany, which counted among its members Beethoven, playing viola, and Anton Reicha, playing flute. He later concertized all over Europe performing his own compositions, which included ten concertos, and numerous other solos and chamber music. He renewed his friendship with Beethoven whenever he was in Vienna, and performed the latter's cello sonatas with him. It is unfortunate that Romberg is most remembered for a disgusted reaction attributed to him when he first read through the second movement of Beethoven's first "Rasoumovsky" Quartet, however, as late as 1822, Beethoven wrote to him to praise his "high art". In addition to his cello music he wrote six operas, five symphonies, eleven string quartets, and at least three works for solo flute.
It was while he was Kapellmeister to the Prussian King in Berlin between 1815 and 1819 that his Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in B Minor was published as a set of parts by C. F. Peters with the opus number 30 (also assigned by the same publisher to one of the cello concertos). It was dedicated to the Berlin publisher, Adolph Schlesinger, and was probably written somewhat earlier; a letter of 1819 states that he had designated opus 17 for the flute concerto. The piece is in three movements, of which the first, with its long orchestral tutti, is the most substantial, displaying both brilliant passage work and lyrical sections. The slow movement is a pastorale in G Major where the flute traces endless embroidery over string accompaniment, and the charming rondo offers interludes of great bravura and a dazzling coda. The orchestration calls for oboes, horns, bassoons and timpani in addition to the strings. It was surely the lack of a reduction for piano that kept this fine work from entering the repertory, and it is hoped that my publication of such a version will correct this state.
Romberg's cousin Andreas, born the same year, was a violinist, and led a parallel career which included joint concerts as well as publications. Thus, in 1803, the publisher Hoffmeister offered "Trois Quintetti pour flute, violon, deux altos et violoncelle composes par les freres Andreas et Bernard Romberg - premier oevre de Quintetti". The title page of each flute part gives the composer of the first two as Andreas, and the third, in G Major, as Bernhard. This latter is a substantial four movement work, requiring considerable virtuosity of the flute, violin and cello. The violas are used largely in accompaniment, but the darkness they provide gives a weightiness to the piece (particularly the expressive Andante poco Adagio) that contrasts it to flute quartets of this period.
Romberg's third contribution to our repertoire is in lighter vein - a charming Divertimento with string (quartet) accompaniment. A bright Allegro sets up a Swedish folksong which is varied with considerable virtuosity - as a coda there is an elegant minuet. Published as Opus 27, it was similarly listed by Romberg's biographer, H. Schafer, but as "Divertimento uber ein Schwedisches Volkslied fur Flote und Orchester". Schafer also lists a Divertimento with quartet accompaniment as Opus 40, but not being able to find a copy of this I do not know if it is a different piece. Vester lists Divertissement, Opus 40, for flute, violin, viola and cello in his Flute Repertoire.
Catalogue as having been published by Richault. He also lists Divertimento, Opus 27, as a work for flute and piano that was published by Schweers und Hake in Bremen.
Seven years older than Mendelssohn, Bernhard Molique (1802 - 1869) was a violin prodigy and student of Ludwig Spohr. At the age of eighteen he was appointed concertmaster in Munich and at twenty four he became concertmaster in Stuttgart. After a successful solo career he settled in London where he became Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy until his retirement in 1866. His compositions include two masses, a symphony, 6 violin concertos, concertos for a number of other instruments, and chamber music. He had his biggest successes with his A Minor violin concerto, his piano trio, Opus 27, and his oratorio, "Abraham".
While in Munich as a young man he befriended the flutist Theobald Bohm and they did some successful concert tours around Germany. One of Molique's first compositions was a Duo Concertante, Opus 3, for flute and violin for themselves to play. A charming work which draws on themes of Weber, including the final hymn from "Der Freischutz", it demonstrates that Molique must have been a superb player.
He also wrote a concerto for Bohm which was reviewed after a performance in Leipzig in 1824 - "Although the composition performed by Herr Bohm is not a work of genius and shows here and there too much of the influence of Spohr, it is nevertheless an honorable addition to the repertoire of the instrument." The concerto was not published at that time though it is presumed that this is what has been recently edited and recorded by Alain Marion using a manuscript in the Wurttemberg Library in Stuttgart. In 1865 the Norwegian flutist, Oluf Svendsen, played a concerto by Molique with the orchestra of the Philharmonic Society in London. It would seem that this was a reworking of his early concerto, now designated Opus 69. A comparison with the Marion edition shows that the outer movements are obvious reworkings and that the Andante is new. Whatever has now become of the manuscript of the later version, it was obviously the source of several German editions after Molique's death (one of which was used in producing the currently available Southern Music edition). The new Andante has always been a popular solo but the concerto as a whole is rarely heard. The opening Allegro is musically strong, though containing some awkward figurations and extended phrases, and the Rondo is charming and appropriately brilliant.
Of Molique's other works for the flute the most substantial is his Quintet, Opus 35, with violin, 2 violas and cello. Written in 1848 on commission from the English piano maker and amateur flutist, Walter Broadwood, it is quite beautiful. As has been mentioned earlier the use of two violas seems to imply a more serious intent than that of a typical flute quartet, and although the opening Allegro is in D Major the first entry of the flute is in the minor mode. The Scherzo is in D Minor, though the trio is built around an English folksong in the major mode. The elegant Andante is in Bb Major, but the contrasting middle section is again in the minor mode. The bubbling finale returns to the opening D Major. The texture throughout integrates the flute with the three strings, only the second viola taking an accompanying role.
After I became interested in these composers some twenty years ago audience response to my performances encouraged me to record the concertos and quintets. I have now added the smaller pieces mentioned above to create a CD of each composer's music. I hope that these CDs along with this article will stimulate the further investigation of the two Bernhards' contributions to our repertory.
My Complete Story of the Flute
Leonardo DE Lorenzo - Revised and Expanded
Edition (Texas Tech University Press, 1992)
Years later, doing research in the N.Y.P.L at Lincoln Center, one of the few places to find De Lorenzo's book by then, I lost a whole afternoon, unable to avoid browsing through the whole book again.
It is that kind of a book - not to be read cover to cover, word by word - at times fascinating, at times irritating, at times irrelevant - a singular reference for people and music considered important in the mid-century flute world - a good source for information on the previous two centuries too.
De Lorenzo (1875 - 1962), after several years of world travel, settled in the U.S. in 1910, when he became first flutist of the New York Philharmonic under Mahler. His longest tenure was in Rochester (1923 - 35) both in the orchestra and at Eastman, after which he retired to California. He was an enthusiastic teacher, a prolific composer and the kind of correspondent who would write "To G. B. S. , London, England" with a query, and get an answer (see p 307). He seems to have known or corresponded with everyone remotely connected to the flute, or, in the case of Shaw, unconnected (see p 308).
The book, as originally published in 1951, was in four parts - "The Flute", "The Performer", "The Music", and "Reminiscences of a Flutist". The current edition adds three addenda that De Lorenzo had hoped to include in a second edition. Also added is a complete index. From this New Yorkers can quickly find that Julius Baker was once "a talented flutist of the younger American generation" and that Gerardo Levy was once "the excellent solo flutist with the Orguesta Sinfonica de Buenos Aires" - that the N.Y.P. flute section was once John Wummer, Amedeo Ghignatti, William Heim and Emil Pagano, while the Met's was H. Bennett, H. de Vries, H. Hirsh, and F. Monone (well, nobody's perfect!)
The National Flute Association is to be commended for making this revision a reality; as a true review of the book's contents and value, Nancy Toff's introduction is perfect.
In the Major section of the theme, the first two bars are harmonically identical, as are the third and fourth bars, and the fifth and sixth.
These fifth and sixth bars have on their first quarter a diminished seventh chord over an A#, and on their second quarter an E major chord over a B. In bar seven, the second quarter is the same E chord, but the first quarter is a C# minor chord in root position.
In Variation 2, it is this seventh bar which has been elided. Some editions print the phrase as Schubert wrote it, without comment, and some editions indicate a repeat of bar six, or of the second quarter note of six and the first quarter note of seven. Some editions add the "missing" bar without comment.
What I have been able to read on the subject suggests that scholars are undecided on the question of whether the elision was intentional or the result of some distraction. I have not found a scholarly discussion of the subject that might offer other instances where Schubert similarly condensed a regularly metered phrase.
In coming to grips with this question for my own satisfaction as a performer and teacher, I decided to create a version that fills in the missing material, but, having done so, I had to wonder why Schubert would not have corrected his manuscript similarly if he was unhappy with it.
If you compare my version with an Urtext edition based on Schubert's manuscript, you will see that, harmonically and melodically, the missing material is the second quarter note of bar six and the first quarter note of bar seven, not a simple omission of a bar. A further indication of Schubert's deliberate intent is that the flute trill in measure four his original is not resolved on the following downbeat, which is a quarter note rest.
I would think that in writing out this variation Schubert would have started by putting down the piano left hand, which is its focus. Perhaps one can argue that some distraction led him to leave out two beats. Having made this slip, the exigencies of time, or the cost of paper, or a touch of humor, then moved him to adjust the rest of the material accordingly - and, having done so, he rather liked the results.
I hope that you will take the time to compare the two versions and think about them. If you decide you prefer the symmetry of the eight bar phrase, you could cut it out and tape it into your own music.
In a message dated 12/6/96 8:54:25 PM, Kim wrote:
Kim, I recommend you try the plugs with extensions that Brannen Brothers sell. This will allow you to experiment, then the ones you decide you don't need they will take back. One of the niftiest is a plastic cover that clips over the C finger button (where you put your left hand first finger) letting you move the whole hand slightly down the body of the flute and narrowing the stretch between the first two fingers. If you dont have offset G you might still want an extension plug for that. If you don't play Brannen they will send the correct sized plugs if you give an accurate dimension of your holes (I'm assuming you play open hole). As I have written here before, my own solution to the pressure on the first finger was to have a metal "wart" added to the body. (This is what they call the addition that you see on metal piccolos to make it easier to hold.) I then made a little ring out of velcro and a wedge of cork. The ring goes around my first finger and provides a little ledge on which the wart sits - taking the weight of the flute. I hope this helps.
John Wion comments on Mozart tempos
I thought the list might find it interesting to see his suggestions as they apply to the flute solos. For e-mail purposes I use H for half note (minim), Q for quarter note (crotchet), and E for eighth note (quaver). I find a lot of them about one notch too fast for my taste, but that could be a variation of metronomes.
G Major Concerto
D Major Concerto
C Major Concerto
C Major Quartet
D Major Quartet
G Major Quartet
A Major Quartet
Conservatory vs University Programs
"I'm a sophmore in high school and I'm starting to think about where I'm going after high school. I've heard that conservatories are a lot more expensive than universitites, and that will be a major concern for me. Is that true?
How big of a difference does a conservatory education make in the "real world" as far as a performance career goes? I know there's a good in-state university where I could even get a master's or a doctorate in performance.
I am sure that conservatories have considerably higher tuition than state universities (particularly in-state), tho they often have considerable talent awards for gifted students. Conservatories are eager for good students and will offer as big a scholarship as they can to attract them. However, I must say that I am always disappointed by the student who says (s)he will go to the school that offers the biggest scholarship. This is a most important time in your life, and the quality of your education is always the most important factor.
I have said on this list before that a performance degree (particularly at a conservatory) is something to embark on against everyone's advice only if you are absolutely convinced that there is nothing else you can imagine doing with your life, and you know you have the talent and the competitive drive to succeed. Otherwise I would always recommend taking another major, such as music education or music management, and exposing yourself to as many non-musical areas as possible. You can still work hard to develop your flute talent, and perhaps move to a performance major at the graduate level. One of my best students was a music ed major at Hartt. She went on to graduate flute work at Juilliard and now plays at the opera with me. Some very successful flutists in the world have taken university degrees in completely unrelated fields.
If you should indeed finish up your education as a prospective professional performer, the place you have gone to school will have little to do with getting a playing job. It is true that if it was a famous school or a famous teacher you might get a little keener attention, but mostly you are anonymous behind a screen. Apart from having the best teacher you can find, you need the opportunity to develop your aural and theoretical skills. Again, I am amazed at how little background American highschoolers have in these areas. Now is the time to start if you haven't.