Saturday 1 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Adagio by Handel

 from Flute Sonata in G major

Handel composed his Sonata in G major for Flute and Harpsichord (HWV 363b) circa 1711–16. Some editions indicate that the work is for recorder, but the sonata was actually originally composed as an oboe sonata in F major (HWV 363a).

The sonata begins with an Adagio that is derived from an aria in Handel's opera Rinaldo. Over a stately harpsichord accompaniment, the flute delivers a long-lined melody punctuated by brief sighing phrases.

Thanks to Kimberly for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Baroque Sonatas Written for Flute Difficulty: intermediate
Sunday 2 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Ranz des Vaches

 from “William Tell” by Gioachino Rossini, arranged for Flute and Piano

This piece is the third of four parts that make up the William Tell overture. You may have already heard it, as this particular segment is often used in animated cartoons to signify daybreak. The orchestral version of the excerpt features the flute and the oboe as the solo instruments; in our transcription we have kept the original flute part, and added a piano accompaniment.

This section of the overture is named after the simple melody traditionally played on the horn by the Swiss Alpine herdsmen as they drove their cattle to or from the pasture. It is said that this tune, when played in foreign lands, produces on a Swiss an almost irrepressible yearning for home.

Categories: Opera excerpts Romantic Difficulty: advanced
Monday 3 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro by C.P.E. Bach

 from Flute Sonata in A minor

Here is the second movement of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Sonata in A minor for Solo Flute. This binary-form (AABB) Allegro in 2/4 time has the energetic geniality of a movement from one of the composer's father's (i.e. J.S. Bach's) English Suites, with a seasoning of wide leaps and swift modulations.

Categories: Classical Rococo Sonatas Written for Flute Difficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 4 January 2011

Tune of the Day: On, Brave Old Army Team

 Fight song of the United States Military Academy

“On, Brave Old Army Team” was originally written in 1910 by Lt. Philip Egner, conductor, cellist, and bandmaster for the 17th US Infantry Band. Legend tells us that he conceived the tune while walking home one day, and jotted the notes on his stiffly starched cuff, lest he forget them.

The song was immediately popularized among the Corps of Cadets. With Army's football dominance in the mid-1940s, the song became the singing trademark of athletics at West Point and at U.S. Army installations throughout the world.

Thanks to Alexa for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Fight songs Military music Sports music Difficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 5 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro by Handel

 from Sonata in F major

Here is the second movement of George Frideric Handel's Sonata in F major for Recorder and Basso continuo, one of the famous Opus 1 sonatas. This movement is a binary-form Allegro in common time. Both of its sections are quite lively, containing fast sixteenth-note passages.

Categories: Baroque Sonatas Difficulty: intermediate
Thursday 6 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Celeste Aida

 from Giuseppe Verdi's opera “Aida”

“Celeste Aida” (“Heavenly Aida”) is a famous romanza (i.e. a simple lyrical piece) from Giuseppe Verdi's opera Aida, which is set in ancient Egypt. It is sung by Radamès, a young Egyptian warrior who wishes to be chosen as a Commander of the Egyptian army. He dreams of gaining victory on the battle field for Aida, the Ethiopian slave girl with whom he is secretly in love.

Categories: Arias Opera excerpts Romantic Difficulty: intermediate
Friday 7 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Two Minuets by J.S. Bach

 from Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C major

These two minuets are taken from J.S. Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 1. As pointed out by scholars, there are remarkable melodic similarities between this suite and the chorale “Dir, dir, Jehovah, will ich singen”, BWV 299, one of the very few chorale melodies regarded as being unquestionably Bach's own. In particular, there's an obvious resemblance between the chorale and Menuet I, while Menuet II, though seemingly unrelated, does also pick up the exact rhythms and pitches of the chorale melody.

Categories: Baroque Minuets Difficulty: intermediate
Saturday 8 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Arabesque No. 1

 by Claude Debussy, arranged for Flute and Harp

The Two Arabesques (Deux arabesques in French) are two of Debussy's earliest works, composed between the years 1888 and 1891, when the composer was still in his twenties.

The first arabesque is in the key of E major, and is marked “Andantino con moto”, which suggests a tempo a little faster than “Andante”. Debussy seems to wander through modes and keys, and achieves evocative scenes through music. The opening arpeggio suggests a water flow eventually leading into a heavier section, which leaves place to a quieter central section in A major.

An electronic rendition of this arabesque is the theme music to PBS's show Star Gazer. The piece is also used in Alicia Keys's “Like the Sea”, from her album The Element of Freedom.

Categories: Romantic Difficulty: intermediate
Sunday 9 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Adagio by Telemann

 from Canonic Sonata for Two Flutes No.1

This Adagio is the second movement of Georg Philipp Telemann's first Canonic Sonata. In this instance, the word canonic means “in the manner of a canon”; that is, the two players play the exact same melody, but one measure apart.

Remember that, since this is a Baroque piece, trills should be played beginning on the note above the one indicated. In this case, it is also nice to end the trills by playing the note below the one indicated, followed by the note itself; for instance, to trill a D, you could play E-D-E-D-E-D-C-D. Just be careful to add the appropriate accidentals!

Categories: Baroque Canons Sonatas Difficulty: intermediate
Monday 10 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Journey Through the Snow

 from “The Nutcracker” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Near the end of Act I of Tchaikovsky's famous ballet The Nutcracker, Clara and the Prince travel to a world where dancing Snowflakes greet them and fairies and queens dance, welcoming Clara and the Prince into their world. This sequence is frequently called either “Journey Through the Snow” or “A Pine Forest in Winter”.

Thanks to Carol for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Ballet excerpts Romantic Difficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 11 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro by C.P.E. Bach

 from Flute Sonata in A minor

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, arguably the most talented son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach, ends his Sonata for Solo Flute in A minor with this binary-form Allegro, a virtuoso movement in the style of Quantz's flute sonatas.

Categories: Classical Rococo Sonatas Written for Flute Difficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 12 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Summer

 from “The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi

Just like the other three concertos that compose The Four Seasons, “Summer” (“L'estate” in Italian) is made up of three movements, following the usual fast-slow-fast scheme, and is accompanied by a sonnet:

Beneath the blazing sun's relentless heat
men and flocks are sweltering, pines are scorched;
we hear the cuckoo's voice, then sweet songs
of the turtle dove and finch are heard.
Soft breezes stir the air, but threatening
north wind sweeps them suddenly aside.
The shepherd trembles,
fearful of violent storm and what may lie ahead.

His limbs are now awakened from their repose
by fear of lightning's flash and thunder's roar,
as gnats and flies buzz furiously around.

Alas, his worst fears were justified,
as the heavens roar and great hailstones
beat down upon the proudly standing wheat.

As you can see, the final movement evokes a thunderstorm, which is why it is often dubbed “Storm”.

Categories: Baroque Concertos Difficulty: advanced
Thursday 13 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Viennese Blood Waltz

 by Johann Strauss II, arranged for solo flute

“Wiener Blut” (literally, “Viennese Blood”, but sometimes translated “Viennese Spirit”) was written by Johann Strauss Jr. in 1871. Strauss was in his 46th year, and had just experienced his first success composing for the stage; “Wiener Blut” would also later become the central musical theme of the operetta by the same name. This waltz is actually one of few last Strauss compositions to be independent from his stage works, as at that point of his career the composer was concentrating on writing for the performing stage, and not actively writing music for the ballrooms.

Thanks to Esther for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Dance tunes Romantic Waltzes Difficulty: intermediate
Friday 14 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Two Passepieds by J.S. Bach

 from Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C major

These two lively passepieds constitute the seventh and last movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 1.

A passepied (which in French approximately means “passing feet”) is a dance of the baroque era that originated in Brittany, a region of western France. The music to which a passepied is set is almost always a movement in binary (AABB) form with a fast tempo and a time signature of three beats per bar (3/4 or 3/8), each section beginning with an upbeat of a single beat.

Categories: Baroque Passepieds Difficulty: intermediate
Saturday 15 January 2011

Tune of the Day: I Dreamt that I Dwelt in Marble Halls

 from “The Bohemian Girl”, arranged for Flute and Piano

The opera The Bohemian Girl was written in 1843 by Irish composer Michael William Balfe. “I Dreamt that I Dwelt in Marble Halls”, an aria from Act II, is undoubtedly the best-known number from the work; in it, the main character, Arline, describes her vague memories of her childhood.

The aria is cited in James Joyce's novel Finnegan's Wake, as well as in the short story Clay from Dubliners, in which the character Maria sings some lines of the song. The piece was very popular in the second half of the 19th century, but also has many modern incarnations. It has been recorded by many artists, most famously by Joan Sutherland, and also by Norwegian soprano Sissel Kyrkjebø and Irish vocalist Enya.

Thanks to Lou for suggesting this aria!

Categories: Arias Opera excerpts Romantic Difficulty: intermediate
Sunday 16 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro by J.S. Bach

 from Flute Sonata No. 6 in E major

This Allegro is the second movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Sonata for flute and continuo in E major. It is a rigaudon, a cheerful and quick Baroque dance in duple meter.

Many passages of this movement challenge the flutist's breath control. It is also to be said that the key of E major presents many fingering challenges on the Baroque wooden flute, so this sonata was probably beyond the skills of most of the flutists known to have been in Bach's circle.

Thanks to Renata from Brazil for suggesting this movement!

Categories: Baroque Sonatas Written for Flute Difficulty: intermediate
Monday 17 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Camptown Races

 by Stephen Foster, arranged for Flute and Guitar

The original title of this song was actually “Gwine to Run All Night”. It was written in 1850 by Stephen Foster, known as the “father of American music”, who was the preeminent songwriter in the United States of the 19th century. The original title referenced the African-American stereotype dialect in which the song was written.

The Camptown of Foster's own experience was in Pennsylvania, which now hosts an annual 10K cross-country foot race called Camptown Races. The word “camptown”, however, also refers to the temporary accommodations transients would set up around train tracks to make it easier to hop trains to get from job to job.

The song has made countless appearances in popular media, most notably in Mel Brooks's 1974 film Blazing Saddles. The 1998 song “Doodah!” by the Danish band Cartoons, which was a Top 10 hit in the UK, is a cover of Foster's “Camptown Races”.

Categories: Minstrel songs Pentatonic Traditional/Folk Difficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 18 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Andante from Brandenburg Concerto No. 4

 by Johann Sebastian Bach, arranged for flute trio

Today we present the central movement of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, a slow 3/4-time Andante in E minor. The original work features a violin and two recorders playing against a string ripieno, but here we have adapted the score so that the piece could be played by three flutes.

Categories: Baroque Concertos Difficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 19 January 2011

Tune of the Day: The Bonnie Blue Flag

 American Civil War song, arranged for Flute and Piano

Also known as “We Are a Band of Brothers”, this 1861 marching song refers to the unofficial first flag of the Confederate States of America. The song was composed by Irish-born comedian Harry McCarthy, who used the tune of the traditional Irish melody known as “The Irish Jaunting Car”.

The piece was an immediate success throughout the South, second in popularity only to Dan Emmett's “Dixie”. During the period of the war—from 1861 through 1865—eleven editions of “The Bonnie Blue Flag” were published in the Confederacy. Largely forgotten during the late 1860s and the Reconstruction era, its popularity received a big boost in the 1930s when Georgia novelist Margaret Mitchell mentioned it in her work, Gone With the Wind, and had her main characters, Rhett Butler and Scarlet O'Hara, name their only daughter Bonnie Blue Butler.

You may have heard this song in the 2003 film Gods and Generals, in which the “The Bonnie Blue Flag” is sung in front of the Confederate Army.

Thanks to Henry for suggesting this piece!

Categories: American Civil War Marches Patriotic Traditional/Folk Difficulty: intermediate
Thursday 20 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Dido's Lament

 from “Dido and Aeneas” by Henry Purcell, arranged for Flute and Piano

A monumental work in Baroque opera, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas is among the first English operas. Its first known performance took place in London no later 1688. The story is based on Virgil's Aeneid, and recounts the love story of Dido, Queen of Carthage and the Trojan hero Aeneas, and her despair at his abandonment of her.

What is most remarkable about this work is Dido's death aria, "When I am laid in earth", arguably one of the most beautiful opera arias ever written. Also known as Dido's Lament, the piece opens with a descending chromatic line, which is repeated eleven times throughout the aria. For this reason, Dido's Lament is included in many classical music textbooks for its exemplary use of ground bass.

Thanks to Sam for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Arias Baroque Opera excerpts Difficulty: easy
Friday 21 January 2011

Tune of the Day: National Anthem of Colombia

 Arranged for solo flute

The Colombian national anthem was composed by Oreste Sindici, an Italian-born musician who had studied in Rome. He arrived to Bogotá in 1865, at the age of 37, as a singer with an opera company, and lived in Colombia until his death. In 1887 he was asked to compose the music for a poem written by Rafael Núñez. This song, originally released for the commemoration of the Independence of the city of Cartagena de Indias, eventually became the official national anthem of Colombia in 1920.

Thanks to Erika for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Marches National anthems Patriotic Difficulty: easy
Saturday 22 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Caprice No. 24

 by Niccolò Paganini, arranged for solo Flute

Caprice No. 24 is the final piece in Niccolò Paganini's 24 Caprices, a famous collection of études for solo violin composed between 1802 and 1817. This last piece is in the key of A minor, and consists of a theme, 11 variations, and a finale. It is widely considered one of the most difficult pieces ever written for solo violin.

Categories: Etudes Romantic Show-off pieces Variations Difficulty: advanced
Saturday 22 January 2011

Site update: New Online Tuner

A free chromatic tuner is now available on

We have finally finished the first version of our own chromatic tuner. This tool was a long-requested feature, and we are very happy to be finally able to release it. We have also included a brief introduction to flute tuning, hope you'll find it useful!

Please note that when first loading the tuner page, your browser will ask you if you want to trust our applet. Your confirmation is needed in order to let the tuner access your computer's microphone.

As always, please feel free to let us know what you think about this new feature!

Sunday 23 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Drive the Cold Winter Away

 Traditional English tune

This early-17th-century ballad can be found in all editions of John Playford's The English Dancing Master, from 1651 to 1728. There the tune is a lively jig to accompany a three-part longways dance.

Monday 24 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro by Telemann

 from Canonic Sonata for Two Flutes No.1

Here is the third and last movement of Georg Philipp Telemann's Canonic Sonata No. 1. It's a lively 2/4-time Allegro in G major, and like all the movements in the “Canonic” collection it is written as a canon, so both players can play the same part, just one measure apart.

Categories: Baroque Canons Sonatas Difficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 25 January 2011

Tune of the Day: I Am So Proud

 from “The Mikado”, arranged for three Flutes and Piano

The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W.S. Gilbert. It opened in 1885 in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, one of the longest runs of any theater piece up to that time.

The story of The Mikado revolves around a wandering musician named Nanki-Poo, who has fallen in love with a beautiful young lady called Yum-Yum. Unfortunately, Yum-Yum is engaged to be married to the tailor Ko-Ko. When Nanki-Poo hears that Ko-Ko has been condemned to death for the capital crime of flirting, he hastily returns to his town, Titipu, only to learn that Ko-Ko has not only been granted a reprieve, but has been promoted to the post of Lord High Executioner. Apparently, those in power, wishing to slow down the rash of executions, reason that since Ko-Ko was next in line for execution, he can't cut off anyone else's head until he cuts off his own! The Mikado (i.e., the Emperor), however, soon takes notice of the lack of executions in Titipu and decrees that if no executions take place within the time of one month, the city shall be reduced to the status of a village. It's here, near the end of Act I, that we find the famous trio “I am so proud”.

Thanks to Zaq for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Opera excerpts Difficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 26 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Fantasia for Solo Flute No. 9

 by Georg Philipp Telemann

Telemann's ninth Fantasia for Solo Flute is in the key of E major, even if sometimes it can also be found transposed to G major. It starts off with a slow sarabande marked "Affettuoso" (tender, affectionate), then progresses to an exuberant 3/8-time Allegro. After a four-measure Grave, the Fantasia closes with a lively (“Vivace”) bourrée.

Categories: Baroque Fantasias Written for Flute Difficulty: intermediate
Thursday 27 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Mo Li Hua

 Traditional Chinese folk song

The title of this popular Chinese folk song means “Jasmine Flower”. The song itself seems to date from the 18th century. The melody has become somewhat well known among Western listeners as it was included by Giacomo Puccini in his opera Turandot, where it is associated with Princess Turandot's splendor.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, this music was used in all awarding ceremonies.

Categories: Traditional/Folk Difficulty: easy
Friday 28 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Two Bourrées by J.S. Bach

 from Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor

These two bourrées constitute the very central part of the famous B-minor suite. The first one has a more decided, martial feel to it, while the second is sweeter and more flowing. Both are, as usual, in binary (AABB) form. In performance, they are normally followed by a repeatless restatement of the first bourrée.

Thanks to Connor for suggesting these pieces!

Categories: Baroque Bourrées Written for Flute Difficulty: intermediate
Saturday 29 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Go Down, Moses

 Traditional African American spiritual

This American Negro spiritual describes events in the Old Testament of the Bible, specifically the part in which God commands Moses to demand the release of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. In the song's context, Israel represents the African-American slaves while Egypt and its Pharaoh represent the slavemaster.

Although usually thought of as a spiritual, it's interesting to observe that the earliest recorded use of the song was as a rallying anthem for the Contrabands at Fort Monroe sometime before 1862.

Notable recording of this song include those by Paul Robeson and Louis Armstrong.

Categories: Gospel music Spirituals Traditional/Folk Difficulty: easy
Sunday 30 January 2011

Tune of the Day: Oh! a Private Buffoon is a Light-Hearted Loon

 from “The Yeoman of the Guard”, arranged for Flute and Piano

This song is taken from Act II of Gilbert and Sullivan's 1888 comic opera The Yeoman of the Guard. It is sung by Jack Point, a strolling jester.

Oh! a private buffoon is a light-hearted loon,
If you listen to popular rumour;
From the morn to the night he's so joyous and bright,
And he bubbles with wit and good humour!

Thanks to Sherry for suggesting this piece! By the way, more of Sir Arthur Sullivan's songs are now in preparation!

Categories: Opera excerpts Difficulty: intermediate
Monday 31 January 2011

Tune of the Day: The Impresario Overture

 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, arranged for two Flutes

The Impresario (actually, Der Schauspieldirektor) is a comic opera written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1786. It was commissioned to the famous Austrian composer by Emperor Joseph II, who wanted to pit a German singspiel against the Italian opera Prima la musica, poi le parole (First the Music, then the Words) by Antonio Salieri.

Cast in one short act, Mozart's opera has just four numbers. The overture, which we present today arranged for flute duet, is similar to the one from The Marriage of Figaro, which was written at the same time and premiered later the same year.

Thanks to Karen for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Classical Opera excerpts Difficulty: intermediate