Thursday 1 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Study in G minor by Köhler

 from “Progress in Flute Playing”

Here is another étude from the first book of Ernesto Köhler's Progress in Flute Playing. This triple-meter piece makes heavy use of articulation. It is marked martellato, which translates literally from Italian as ‛hammered’, thus calling for very strong accents.

Categories: Etudes Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 2 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Soave by Telemann

 from Canonic Sonata for Two Flutes No. 6

Here is the second movement of Georg Philipp Telemann's sixth Canonic Sonata for two flutes. This Soave in 12/8 time starts off in B-flat major, but seems to end up in F major.

Categories: Baroque Canons SonatasDifficulty: easy
Saturday 3 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Three Fishers

 English folk song

The music to this song was written by English composer John Hullah shortly after 1851, when Charles Kingsley wrote the poem “Three Fishers”. The lyrics tell the story of three fishermen who sail out to sea, and lose their lives when overtaken by a storm.

There have been a number of modern recordings of the song since the American folk music revival; it was most notably recorded by Richard Dyer-Bennet in 1955 and by Joan Baez in 1963. In the 1980s, Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers recorded a version with a musical arrangement by his brother, Garnet Rogers. Many recent recordings closely follow this arrangement, such as the one by The Duhks on their 2006 album Migrations.

Categories: Ballads Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Sunday 4 September 2011

Tune of the Day: The Death of Aase

 from Edvard Grieg's “Peer Gynt Suite No. 1”

This intensely emotional lament constitutes the second movement of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite No. 1. As Phil, who suggested the piece, pointed out, this is a great tune for developing expression.

Like many other numbers from Grieg's Peer Gynt, this piece is frequently heard in popular culture. For instance, it is played in The Simpsons episode “Coming to Homerica”, in which Norwegian workers are forced to leave their poverty-stricken town and emigrate to Springfield. A fast version of the tune was even used as a background music in the popular 1995 video game Descent.

Categories: RomanticDifficulty: intermediate
Monday 5 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Consolation

 from Köhler's “25 Romantic Studies”

This étude is taken from Ernesto Köhler's 25 Romantic Studies, Op. 66. It starts off with a melancholic D-minor theme to be played expressively and “with full voice” (piena voce). The subsequent passage is marked con rassegnazione, i.e. “with resignation”. Some technical difficulty is then brought in by the sixteenth-note runs starting at measure 20.

Categories: Etudes Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 6 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Lascia ch'io pianga

 from Handel's “Rinaldo”, arranged for flute and piano

This soprano aria by George Frideric Handel has become a very popular concert piece. The melody for the song began its life as an Asian dance in his 1705 opera Almira. As an aria the piece was first used in Handel's 1707 oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, albeit with a different text and name, “Lascia la spina”. Handel later recycled the work for his 1711 opera Rinaldo, giving the aria to the character Almirena in Act II. Rinaldo was a major triumph for Handel, and it is with this work that the aria is now chiefly associated.

Let me weep my cruel fate,
and let me sigh for liberty.
May sorrow break these chains
Of my sufferings, for pity's sake.

Thanks to Jess for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Arias Baroque Opera excerptsDifficulty: easy
Wednesday 7 September 2011

Tune of the Day: The Star of Munster

 Traditional Irish reel

This melody dates back to at least the latter part of the 19th century. It is peculiar in that while the first part is clearly in the key of A Dorian, the second part has a tendency to veer to E minor. The reel has proved quite popular as an accompaniment for New England contra dances since the 1970s, and is frequently heard today at Irish sessions.

Categories: Celtic Music Reels Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 8 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Nocturne in B-flat minor

 by Frédéric Chopin, arranged for solo flute and bass instrument

This somewhat neglected nocturne has a rhythmic freedom that came to characterize Chopin's later work. The bass consists of an unbroken sequence of eighth notes in simple arpeggios throughout the entire piece, while the melody moves with freedom in patterns of eleven, twenty, and twenty-two notes. The opening section moves into a contrasting middle section, which flows back to the opening material in a transitional passage where the melody floats above seventeen consecutive bars of D-flat major chords. The reprise of the first section grows out of this, and the nocturne concludes peacefully with a so-called Picardy third: a major chord of the tonic at the end of a minor-key section.

Thanks to Luca for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Nocturnes RomanticDifficulty: advanced
Friday 9 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Ricevete, o padroncina

 from Mozart's “The Marriage of Figaro”, arranged for two flutes

This graceful piece is sung by a two-part chorus of country girls in Act III of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's famous opera Le nozze di Figaro. The peasant girls present flowers to the Countess, “to demonstrate our love for you”, and among them is Cherubino, the Count's page, disguised.

Categories: Classical Opera excerptsDifficulty: intermediate
Saturday 10 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Study in G major by Andersen

 from “24 Etudes for Flute”

This has to be one of the most beautiful études written for the flute. The only apparent problem is that it is completely made up of sixteenth-note triplets, and has no rests whatsoever. Some advanced flutists play it using circular breathing, but don't worry: if you'll take careful, musical breaths everything will sound just as fine.

Thanks to Austin for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Etudes Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: advanced
Sunday 11 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Last Night's Fun

 Traditional Irish slip jig

This Mixolydian-mode Irish tune can be found in old manuscripts under various different names, such as “Paddy be easy”, “Miss Brown's Fancy”, and “Whish, Cat from under the Table”. It is a slip jig, or 9/8-time jig. The slip jig is also one the four most common Irish stepdances, the others being the reel, the jig and the hornpipe.

Categories: Celtic Music Jigs Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Monday 12 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro by Handel

 from Flute Sonata in E minor

This is the second movement of Georg Frideric Handel's Sonata in E minor for Flute, Op. 1, No. 1b. This sonata was originally composed as a Violin Sonata in D minor, and later adapted for the flute by Handel himself.

Thanks to James for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Baroque Sonatas Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 13 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Duet in D major by Köhler

 from “20 Easy and Melodic Studies”

This is the first duet in Ernesto Köhler's Twenty Easy Melodic Progressive Studies, Op. 93, a book that includes both solo studies and duets. The second voice is slightly more difficult than the first one, as it is intended to be played by the teacher.

Thanks to Bruno for contributing this piece!

Categories: Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: easy
Wednesday 14 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Study in C major by Gariboldi

 from “20 Petites Etudes”

Today's tune is a simple, moderate-tempo study from Giuseppe Gariboldi's Vingt petites études, or Twenty Studies.

Categories: Etudes Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: easy
Thursday 15 September 2011

Tune of the Day: The Groves

 Traditional Irish hornpipe

While generally in the major tonality, accidentals and F-naturals are more or less frequent in this five-part tune, depending on the version. The most common setting today is probably the one in O'Neill's Music of Ireland, a 1903 collection containing 1850 traditional pieces. Francis O'Neill obtained his setting from the great piper Patrick Tuohey, though earlier he had been impressed with a version of the tune by piper John Hicks.

Remember that hornpipes are usually played with a pronounced “dotted” rhythm, even if traditional notation gives no indication of dottedness. You can listen to our samples to get a feel of the rhythm.

Categories: Celtic Music Hornpipes Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 16 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Preludio from La traviata

 by Giuseppe Verdi, arranged for solo flute

The prelude (or overture, as it is also called) to Act I of Verdi's opera La traviata is based on Violetta's famous aria from Act II, “Amami Alfredo” (“Love me, Alfredo”). Though oddly short for a prelude, it is a very deep and touching piece.

Thanks to Luis for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Opera excerpts RomanticDifficulty: intermediate
Saturday 17 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Moderato by Köhler

 from Forty Progressive Duets for Two Flutes

Here is a new flute duet from Volume I of Ernesto Köhler's Forty Progressive Duets. In this piece the main melody is given to the first flute, while the second flute plays more of an accompaniment role.

Categories: Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: easy
Sunday 18 September 2011

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

 from Cello Suite No. 2, arranged for solo flute

The fifth movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's second Suite for unaccompanied cello is made up of two minuets, the first in D minor and the second in the parallel major key of D major. While the first minuet has chords (rendered here as grace notes) in almost every measure, the second one has very few, and is mainly melodic.

Categories: Baroque MinuetsDifficulty: intermediate
Monday 19 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Long, Long Ago

 English song by Thomas Haynes Bayly

This nostalgic song was written in 1833 by English composer Thomas Haynes Bayly. Originally named “The Long Ago”, its title was apparently changed by the editor when it was first published, posthumously, in a Philadelphia magazine, along with a collection of other songs and poems by Bayly. The song was well received, and became one of the most popular songs in the United States in 1844.

Tell me the tales that to me were so dear,
Long, long ago, long, long ago,
Sing me the songs I delighted to hear,
Long, long ago, long ago,
Now you are come all my grief is removed,
Let me forget that so long you have roved.
Let me believe that you love as you loved,
Long, long ago, long ago.

Thanks to Dan for suggesting this tune!

Categories: Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Tuesday 20 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Fantaisie-Impromptu

 by Frédéric Chopin, arranged for solo flute and bass instrument

The Fantaisie-Impromptu in C-sharp minor for solo piano is one of Frédéric Chopin's best-known composition. It was composed in 1834 and dedicated to his friend Julian Fontana, who published the piece in spite of Chopin's request not to do so.

The piece uses many cross-rhythms: the upper voice is made up of sixteenth notes playing against a bass line of triplets. The opening tempo is marked “Allegro agitato”, but changes to “Moderato cantabile” in the middle section, where the key also changes to D-flat major, the enharmonic equivalent of the more obscure key of C-sharp major, that is, the parallel major of C-sharp minor. In the final section the piece continues in C-sharp minor as before, and concludes in a fantasy-like ending, with the bass replaying the first few notes of the central theme. This same theme was later used in the popular 1917 song “I'm Always Chasing Rainbows”.

Thanks to Natalie and Gabriel for suggesting this piece! (And sorry for the delay!)

Categories: Fantasias RomanticDifficulty: advanced
Wednesday 21 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Danse des petits cygnes

 from “Swan Lake” by P.I. Tchaikovsky, arranged for flute trio

This famous dance tune, whose title translates form French as “Dance of the Little Swans”, is taken from Act II of Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake. As a dance, it has become synonymous with the choreography by Lev Ivanov, created in 1895 for the famous revival of Swan Lake. Four dancers enter the stage in a line and move across with their arms crossed in front of one another, grasping the next dancer's hand. Ideally the dancers move in exact or near-exact unison. At the very end, they break their chain and try to "fly", only to drop to the ground.

Thanks to Jeffrey for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Ballet excerpts RomanticDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 22 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Study in E minor by Köhler

 from “Progress in Flute Playing”

This étude, No. 6 of the first book of Ernesto Köhler's Progress in Flute Playing, is a nice exercise in octave-jumping, but also contains arpeggios and short chromatic runs. After a development of the ideas stated in the introduction and a repetition of the initial theme, the piece ends in a fast coda, marked “Vivace”.

Categories: Etudes Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 23 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Drowsy Maggie

 Traditional Irish reel

“Drowsy Maggie”, also known as “Sleepy Maggie”, was a very popular tune in the old days. In its basic form, which is known to most Irish traditional musicians, this reel has a first part in E Dorian and a second part in D major. A third and a fourth part are sometimes played, which are occasionally credited to famous accordion player Joe Cooley, but which actually seem to be traditional.

Categories: Celtic Music Reels Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Saturday 24 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Song Without Words in D major

 by Felix Mendelssohn, arranged for flute and piano

This “Lied ohne Worte” in D major for cello and piano was composed circa 1845, when Mendelssohn was around 36 years old, but was only published after his death. It was given the Opus number 109 and entitled “Song Without Words”, even if it is not related to any of the piano pieces of the same name written by the German composer.

Thanks to Stefan for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Lieder RomanticDifficulty: intermediate
Sunday 25 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen

 from Mozart's “The Magic Flute”, arranged for two flutes

This duet is sung by Pamina and Papageno in Act I of Mozart's famous opera Die Zauberflöte, or The Magic Flute. Papageno announces to Pamina that her mother, the Queen of the Night, has sent Tamino to her aid. Pamina rejoices to hear that Tamino is in love with her, and then offers sympathy and hope to Papageno, who longs for a wife to love. Together they sing an ode to love: “In men who feel love, a good heart is not lacking”.

Categories: Classical Opera excerptsDifficulty: intermediate
Monday 26 September 2011

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

 from Sonata in G minor for solo violin, transcribed for solo flute

The Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001, is probably the most frequently played of Johann Sebastian Bach's Six Solos for violin without accompaniment, all composed in 1720. The Adagio that opens this sonata is a wildly embellished progression of harmonies. All the embellishments were written out quite carefully by the composer, resulting in a work that might sound improvised but is most definitely not.

Thanks to Gabriel for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Baroque SonatasDifficulty: advanced
Tuesday 27 September 2011

Tune of the Day: I'll Tell Me Ma

 Traditional Irish tune

This tune is used by at least three popular songs: “The Belle of Belfast City”, “The Wind, the Wind” and “My Aunt Jane”. It is also often played as a polka. The song is traditional throughout both Ireland and Great Britain. In Ireland the chorus usually refers to Belfast city and is known colloquially as “The Belle of Belfast City”, although it is also adapted to other Irish cities, such as Dublin and Galway. English versions, on the other hand, refer to the “Golden City” or “London City”.

Thanks to Ainslee for suggesting this tune!

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Tune of the Day: A Maiden's Prayer

 An extremely popular piano piece, arranged for flute and piano

This famous composition was written in 1856 by Polish composer Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska. Many have liked it for its charming and romantic melody, while others have described it as “sentimental salon tosh”. The pianist and academic Arthur Loesser even went as far as describing it as a “dowdy product of ineptitude”.

In 1935, the American musician Bob Wills arranged the piece in the Western swing style and wrote lyrics for it, publishing it as “Maiden's Prayer”; it soon became a standard, recorded by many artists.

Today “A Maiden's Prayer” is very popular in East Asia. In Taiwan, it is even played by garbage trucks!

Thanks to Sunny for suggesting this piece!

Categories: RomanticDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 29 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro assai by Telemann

 from Canonic Sonata for Two Flutes No. 6

Here is the third and last movement of Georg Philipp Telemann's sixth Canonic Sonata for two flutes. This lively “Allegro assai” in 3/8 time starts and ends in the key of A minor, but has a central section in the parallel major key of A major.

Categories: Baroque Canons SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 30 September 2011

Tune of the Day: Study in B minor by Köhler

 from “Progress in Flute Playing”

This is étude No. 13 of the first book of Ernesto Köhler's Progress in Flute Playing, Op. 33. The first part is a melancholic moderate-tempo barcarole, while the second part is “more agitated” (“Più mosso”) but still graceful (“con grazia”).

Thanks to Neri for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Etudes Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate