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Thread: Why the Romantic composers didn't write for the flute.

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    Newbies Tockley's Avatar
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    Default Why the Romantic composers didn't write for the flute.

    Being a flutist, this topic is particularly interesting to me. As any flutist knows, there is a poverty of repertoire available from the early Romantic period for the flute. Whereas one can easily find things to play from both the baroque and classical eras, for some reason composers seemed to lose interest in the flute upon the dawn of Romanticism.

    Some possible reasons that I think are reasonable to attribute to this phenomenon might include, the rising prominence of the Piano/forte, or the incongruence of the flute with the Germanic musical aesthetic.

    I'd love to here what some of you think about this topic though.


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    I was interested in hearing romantic flute concertos, but althought I found out about some of such works (like four concertos by Saverio Mercadante) I never found any recording of those. Too bad, I belive that flute could make great usage in romantic music.

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    Newbies Tockley's Avatar
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    I think it's interesting that many of the same composers who wrote for the guitar also wrote for the flute. This inclines me to think that the flute was perhaps associated with more of an Italian or French musical aesthetic. Since many of the prominent Romantic composers were German, this might offer something of an explanation.

    The one significant Romantic contribution to the flute, Schubert's Variations on Trockne Blumen , lends further credence to this argument, since Schubert happens to be the only composer of the first Viennese school to write for the guitar as well. Furthermore, Schubert is known for his incorporation of song form into his instrumental music.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tockley View Post
    I think it's interesting that many of the same composers who wrote for the guitar also wrote for the flute. This inclines me to think that the flute was perhaps associated with more of an Italian or French musical aesthetic. Since many of the prominent Romantic composers were German, this might offer something of an explanation.

    The one significant Romantic contribution to the flute, Schubert's Variations on Trockne Blumen , lends further credence to this argument, since Schubert happens to be the only composer of the first Viennese school to write for the guitar as well. Furthermore, Schubert is known for his incorporation of song form into his instrumental music.
    Don't forget Carl Nielsen's contribution to the flute repertoire with his "Flute Concerto."

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    Newbies Tockley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mirror Image View Post
    Don't forget Carl Nielsen's contribution to the flute repertoire with his "Flute Concerto."
    Actually I need to check that piece out; I am admittedly not familiar with it other than by name, although I know it is an important work in the literature.

    I should have specified early Romanticism though. In the later years of the Romantic era a number of composers, particularly French, wrote a good deal for the flute (Fauré, Debussy, Prokofiev, Molique etc.

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    Senior Member Taneyev's Avatar
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    And if you can, there's also transcriptions to solo flute of Paganini's 24.

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    The greatest flue piece of the Romantic period is Reinecke's Undine. It is a good piece.

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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    To be honest - no wind instrument has a great wealth of repertoire from the romantic period. The violin and the piano wer dah in teng.
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    What about the clarinet: Weber, Brahms, Schumann, Rossini...

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    Mendelssohn was very "windy" composer too.

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    Senior Member JAKE WYB's Avatar
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    I think Bax can be regarded as a romanric or post-romantic composer and his output including flute is beautiful- the elegiac trio, the flute sonata etc are worth a try as they are very pleasnt and well written for the instrumant -and particularly striking aftre being generally staurated with stringy sounds for the preceding century

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    Mendelssohn was very "windy" composer too.
    I used to have a tape of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto (the famous one) transcribed for flute, played by Andras Adorjan. I forget who did the transcription...

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    Reiner Torheit
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    Actually early romantic composers loved the flute, but didn't always write solo pieces for it. However, they included it liberally in their orchestral scores, particularly in operas... there are many flute solos in the operas of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini, for example.

    Another popular genre from the early C19th was "flute solo variations on famous opera melodies" arranged for flute & piano. Hundreds of these were published, mainly for home music-making. However, they have mostly fallen out-of-print these days, and have to be looked for in libraries, or junk-shops.

    You should look out the flute concertos of Mercadante, there are several of them (for flute & string orchestra) - the E-minor concerto is considered the most attractive of the set, and they present the player with some considerable technical challenges

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    Junior Member LuvRavel's Avatar
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    Hey, oboe is worse man. There is pretty much NO MUSIC AT ALL written for oboe in the romantic period.

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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    and yet it's the most wonderfully romantic instrument.. far more so than any other winds..
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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