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Program notes

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These program notes may be used if the author’s name is mentioned and if the complete notes are presented.

Theobald Boehm (1794–1881) – Grande Polonaise, Op. 16 (1831)
The Grande Polonaise was dedicated to Paul Hippolyte Camus, Boehm’s great promoter and business representative in France. Camus furthermore compiled the first flute method (1839) for Boehm’s ‘neu construierte Flöte’(1832), the instrument that Boehm presented to the French Académie des Beaux Arts of the Institut de France in May 1837. While others talked of ‘the new flute’ (‘la nouvelle flûte’), Camus called it a ‘flûte Boehm’. And the instrument was indeed known as this. No maker of oboes, clarinets or bassoons had been honoured in this way.
That Boehm dedicated the Grande Polonaise to ‘his friend’ Camus reflects the bond of friendship that had been formed through various meetings in Paris, but equally reflects Camus’ great capacities as a player. After being taught by Wunderlich at the Paris Conservatory, from 1819 he was first flutist at the Théâtre de la Port Saint-Martin and, after having graced various other positions, in 1836 he became first flutist at the Théâtre Italien. In the adaptation of Devienne’s flute method that he published with Meissonnier around 1829 he was referred to as ‘Camus de la Chapelle du Roi et de l’Académie rle. de Musique’. W.N. James wrote about him in A Word or Two on the Flute, “M. Camus is a very popular player of the flute in Paris […] his style is decidedly elegant.” A critic in London wrote after a concert there, “[Camus] caused some sensation by performing Boehm’s music on a Godfroy flute with a Dorus G-# key.”
There are two versions of the Grande Polonaise in existence. Opus 16[a] appeared in 1831, published by Falter in Munich, Opus 16[b] with Aulangnier in Paris around 1842. Op. 16[a] encompasses 408 bars, Op. 16[b] 314. The introduction is almost identical in the two versions. In Op. 16[b] a number of interludes by the orchestra/piano have been somewhat curtailed. Additionally, the Presto covers around a dozen bars less (from b. 371 to b. 381 in Op. 16[a]) and the conclusion in Op. 16[b] is to some extent altered. There are also differences between the two versions with regard to articulations. Raymond Meylan mentioned that the alterations and the new modulations in Op. 16[b] are well accomplished and are probably by Boehm himself.

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Theobald Boehm (1794–1881) – Variations on the German Air ‘Du, du liegst mir im Herzen’, Op. 22 (1838)
The cycle of variations ‘Du, du liegst mir im Herzen’ was written for Ludwig Stettmeyer, one of Boehm’s countless students. Stettmeyer was originally a flutist in Hechingen, and was to become a member of the court orchestra (Hoforchester) in Munich, a position he held from 1847 to 1877. Theobald Boehm also performed this work himself in 1843 in Munich at a charity concert for the poor. A critic wrote, “Einen wahren Jubel rief Böhms Zauberflöte hervor. Wie sich das liebe, gemüthliche 'Du, du liegst mir im Herzen' in solcher sinnigen und doch wieder Bravour-kühnen Behandlung in jede lauschende Menschenseele hineinschmiegte.” (“Real jubilation was raised by Böhm’s magic flute. The charming, cosy, ‘Du, du liegst mir im Herzen' nestled in each listening human soul”). The German national anthem ‘Liebe und Sehnsucht’ forms the basis of this introduction, theme and variations. It is probably the most played and most successful of Boehm’s eight variation works. It can on occasion be interesting to look at some differences between Franz Schubert’s variations on ‘Ihr Blümlein alle’ from 1824 and Boehm’s Op. 22. The introductions are already different in character, due partly, of course, to the lyrics, but also because of the virtuoso traditions with which Boehm had in the meantime become acquainted. In Munich he had played during three performances by Paganini in 1829 and from all his cultural tours, which included Austria, Northern Italy, England and France, he became familiar with the ingredients to be used for a successful performance. While Boehm’s variations radiate especially his enthusiasm for virtuosity and brilliance, we encounter another concept in Schubert’s variations: “[they] emanate a totally new tonal force; they display the atmospheric individual quality of the separate variations….” The application of the concept of variation in character, a term used especially by Beethoven, can already be detected in Schubert’s work. In Boehm’s variations the piano always has an accompanying role; in a few variations Schubert allows the flute to accompany the piano. Countless other differences teach us more about both works. In this respect, Gustav Scheck’s analysis of ‘Ihr Blümlein alle…’ in Die Flöte und Ihre Musik is an informative source.

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André Caplet (1878–1925) – Suite Persane for Double Wind Quintet (1900)
André Caplet wrote his Suite Persane at the request of the French oboist Georges Longy, who, together with a number of colleagues from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, had founded a wind ensemble. It is assumed that the inspiration for this work was the World Exhibition held in 1900 in Paris, at which cultures from around the world had a pavilion. Numerous composers felt attracted to the exotic sounds presented there by musicians from the Middle and Far East. Nihavend, the second movement of the Suite Persane, describes a Persian town. In Iskia Samaïsi, ecstatic fakirs dance for us. The Societé moderne d’instruments à vent, which encompassed all prominent French wind players of that era, played the piece’s première in 1901. The musical journal Le Ménestral praised especially its richness of colour. Caplet had already, in 1900, been honoured by the Société de compositeurs de musique for writing another work for wind instruments, his Quintet for Winds and Piano.

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J.M. Coenen (1824–1899) – La Serenata for Flute and Piano (or Orchestra) (ca. 1863)
Johannes Meinardus Coenen was one of the most important Dutch musicians of the second half of the nineteenth century. He made his debut as bassoonist in the Hofkapel in The Hague, later to become the conductor of the Orchestra of the Paleis voor Volksvlijt on the Frederiksplein in Amsterdam. This huge cultural palace, that burned down in 1929 and made way for the present Dutch Bank (DNB), was for a long time, along with Felix Meritus, Amsterdam’s most significant centre of music, despite its infamously poor acoustics. The short Romantic work, La Serenata, for flute and piano (or orchestra), enjoyed great popularity in the nineteenth century. It was first performed by the well-known flutist Herman van Boom, to whom the piece was dedicated. That première for flute and orchestra, with the Netherlands’ best-known orchestra, that of Felix Meritus, would soon be followed by various other flutists. George Schoeman, for instance, performed it with the Orchestra of the Paleis voor Volksvlijt, under the composer’s baton. As is the case with Rossini’s Wilhelm Tell overture, the work begins with a solo for four cellos. The work was so popular that Coenen created various arrangements of it, including those for cello and piano and violin, cello and piano. In the Paleis voor Volksvlijt it was also performed with flute and organ. The piano part is also eminently suitable for the harp.

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The orchestral material may be rented from Broekmans & Van Poppel.

Alphons Diepenbrock (1862–1921) – ‘Wenn ich ihn nur habe’ for Soprano, Wind Quintet and Double Bass (1898/1915) and ‘Come raggio di sol’ for Soprano and Wind Quintet (1917)
In 1898 Alphons Diepenbrock used Novalis’ text ‘Wenn ich ihn nur habe’ for an eponymous song that he dedicated to the well-known soprano Aaltje Noorderwier. At the request of the Concertgebouw Sextet there followed in 1915 an arrangement for wind instruments, an obvious instrumentation considering the fact that the original version had been conceived for soprano and organ. Due to the various timbres of the wind instruments, the melodic pattern is more easily followed than in the original. By adding the double bass, Diepenbrock also added more profundity. The use of the oboe d’amore is in this context by no means coincidental.
The cazonetta ‘Come raggio di sol’ (poet unknown) seems to strike a lighter tone, but soon enough it becomes apparent that those rays of sunshine and happiness, too, can have a darker lining. The suffering expressed in the last sentence may reflect Diepenbrock’s sorrow at the relationship his wife had with the composer Matthijs Vermeulen. “As a mild ray of sun can rest on calm waves while in the depths of the sea a storm is brewing, so can a smile of happiness and contentment reflect on a face while secretly the wounded heart is suffering fear and pain.”
Both lyrics have mystical characteristics. Novalis was searching for more vitality, intimacy and mysticism in the ecclesiastical way of thinking: values shared by Diepenbrock, who throughout his life was in search of profundity. Although we would not do justice to Diepenbrock by calling him a disciple of Mahler, there indeed exists a great affinity between these two befriended composers.

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Goffredo Petrassi (1904–2003) - Souffle
The solo piece for flute, alto flute and piccolo (one player), Souffle, was written in 1969. Severino Gazzelloni, the dedicatee, premièred the piece during the International Festival of Contemporary Music in Royan in March 1969. Composers such as Luigi Nono (1952), Luciano Berio (1957, 1958), Niccolò Castiglioni (1960) and Bruno Maderna (1961) changed the conventional language of the flute, creating a whole new universe of sounds, and Severino Gazzelloni became their prophet. The new music for flute, often premièred in Darmstadt and gradually coming to be called mainly Gazzelloni-Musik, introduced a completely new concept of virtuosity for the instrument, consisting of large leaps, extreme dynamics, rhythmic novelties and the use of effects such as flutter tongue, key clicks, harmonics, simultaneous playing/singing, and so forth.
Souffle introduces the sound of blown air as a new element in a piece for flute. Neutral air, air at a prescribed pitch, flutter tongue which becomes air and air that becomes normal sound are among the different possibilities. Petrassi’s atonal language (interrupted regularly by the ‘forbidden material’ of the chromatic scale) forms gestures rather than phrases. There seems to be no unifying element, either in the tone material or in rhythmic structures. This form of athematicism would be characteristic of Petrassi’s musical language from ca. 1958 onwards. In Souffle, ‘soffio’ is the unifying element. Indications as ‘esitante’, ‘scherzando’ impose a rhetorical character on some passages. Petrassi just uses the three instruments to enlarge the overall compass of the piece; he doesn’t prescribe different characters to piccolo, flute or alto flute.

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Erwin Schulhoff (1894–1942) - Concertino for flute, viola and double bass
Schulhoff’s own description of this piece is worth reading: "The accompaniment (of viola and double bass) in the beginning of the first movement (8/4-metre) is borrowed from Russian-Orthodox litany. Over this (as often in old Slavonic song) lies a floating melody in the flute. The second movement (as a Scherzo) is in the form of a ‘beseda’, a national Czech dance, which as its main element uses a 'furiant' tempo. The theme of the slow movement (4/4 + 3/4), after a Carpathian-Russian love song, played unchanged – after each other – by each instrument, always appears in an ornamented frame of two voices. The last movement is a Rondino after a song of a Carpathian-Russian bear driver, of which the second part consists of a Slovakian shepherd theme in the flute accompanied by an ostinato figuration of the viola and the double bass. The whole piece is just a piece of popular music as is in use in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, where it is usual for people to sing in gay minor tonalities and dance to these. In the Concertino you find most of all gaiety, with a harmonic construction in Phrygian, Lydian and Mixolydian church modes. The origin of this piece lays in a peasant gathering of dancing/singing Czechs, Hanachs, Slovaks, Magyars and Carpathian-Russians which I [Schulhoff] attended in the city of Brno."

From: Erwin Schulhoff, Schriften, pp. 86–88. (English by Rien de Reede, corrected by G. Matham)

Joseph Hartmann Stuntz (1793–1859) – Adagio from the Concerto per il flauto di nuova costruzione (1834/36) also published as Th. Boehm – Élégie
This minor work by Boehm’s instrumentation teacher was for a long time regarded as an original composition by Theobald Boehm. It saw the light of day in 1880 entitled ‘Élégie’ with an inexplicable opus number, 47. Boehm was to some extent responsible for the confusion because he had noted on the material that he had offered to the Schott publishing house, “Adagio, Componirt für Flöte von Th. Boehm; mit Begleitung des großen Orchesters von Kapellmeister H. Stuntz. Mit pianoforte Begleitung.” However, the material actually comprises the slow movement of Stuntz’s ‘Concerto per il flauto di nuova costruzione’, i.e. the conical ring-key flute that Boehm had designed in 1832. Joseph Hartmann Stuntz (1793–1859) had been a student of Peter von Winter and Antonio Salieri and therefore had benefited from a solid education in composition. He was Kapelmeister to the Munich Court from 1823 to 1837.

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Theodoor Verhey (1848–1929) – Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in D Minor (ca. 1898)
The (first) Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in D Minor by Theodoor Verhey, composed around 1898, is a concerto that still graces the repertoire of many flutists, including Jacques Zoon and Patrick Gallois. The piece was dedicated to Ary van Leeuwen, undoubtedly the best-known Dutch flutist of that era. He played, for instance, in the Berlin Philharmonic and later in the Vienna Hofoper under Gustav Mahler. The concerto was premièred around 1899 by the then 18-year-old Jacques van Lier and the Rotterdam orchestra Symphonia. Just as his teacher, Ary van Leeuwen, Jacques van Lier would later be appointed to the Vienna Hofoper and the Vienna Philharmonic. The piece gained immediate popularity in the first half of the last century. To name just a few performances: Karel Willeke, the former solo flutist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, played it, as did Albert Fransella, who introduced the work in London in the version with piano as well as in that with orchestra. Koos Verheul also performed it with the Residentie Orchestra (The Hague). The concerto comprises three movements which merge into each other. The influence of Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms can clearly be heard. Brahms’ imprint is especially recognizable in the last movement, which is influenced by his Hungarian Dances.

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The work is published in the Flute Series of Broekmans & Van Poppel. The orchestral material may be rented from Broekmans.