November 11 – A Tale of Four Dragons by Fang Man

A Tale of Four Dragons by Fang Man

To celebrate Chinese New Year, today we share a work by Fang Man, a Chinese-born composer. Fang is a prolific composer of both large- and small-scale works, including electro-acoustic music and opera, and she is currently a professor of composition at USC. Her music has been performed by such ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group and the Tokyo Philharmonic. Her piece A Tale of Four Dragons, commissioned by Mimi Stillman, is written for a solo flutist who also provides narration of the titular story, an ancient Chinese folktale, between sections of the music. The composition is excerpted for this video.

Performed by Jennifer Parker-Harley, flute and Mike Harley, narrator

August 8 – Pièce Romantique by Cécile Chaminade

Cécile Chaminade, born on this day in 1857, was the first female composer to receive the Légion d’Honneur, the highest order of merit from the French government. While better known for her flute Concertino, this smaller piece is a lovely example of her French romantic composition style.

Performed by Jennifer Parker-Harley
Recorded by Jeff Francis

August 15 – Pièce by Jacques Ibert

Jacques Ibert, born on this day in 1890, was a successful French composer. Pièce, according to an oft-told legend, was supposedly written over the course of a dinner party celebrating the premiere of Ibert’s flute concerto and was sight-read by Marcel Moyse on the same night. Regardless of the legend, this charming solo is a perfect reflection of Ibert’s neo-classical style and represents a large body of work inspired by the master flutist, Moyse.

Brianna Futch received her MM degree from USC in 2018.

July 27 – Aria by Ernst von Dohnanyi

Ernst Dohnanyi, born on this day in 1877, was a Hungarian composer whose career was modulated significantly by the two World Wars and the political upheaval surrounding them. His compositions are often neoromantic and their extensive use of chromaticism couples intriguing harmonies with high technical demands. Many flutists are familiar with his Passacaglia but this piece adds a more lyrical item to his flute output offering a taste of his lush harmonic language.

Jenny Davis is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at USC.

December 2 – Winter Spirits by Katherine Hoover

Katherine Hoover, born on this day in 1937, is an American composer and flutist living in New York. Winter Spirits is influenced by the sounds of Native American music, specifically the Hopi tribe of the American Southwest. An accomplished flutist herself, Hoover’s music capitalizes on the unique characteristics of the instrument, weaving together themes that are at times playful and at other times soaring.

Performed by Dorion Burkett

December 22 – Density 21.5 by Edgard Varèse

Flutists are lucky to have solo works written by some of the leading 20th-century composers including Edgard Varèse, born on this day in 1883. The composer’s affinity for electronic sounds is reflected in the sharp dynamic changes of Density 21.5 that make it exciting to practice and perform. The extremes of range throughout the piece push the possibilities of the instrument and were likely meant to show off the capabilities of Georges Barrère’s newly-minted platinum flute, to which the composition is dedicated. We who play simpler, silver flutes still find joy in exploring the possibilities of our instruments by performing this work.

November 16 – 8 Stücke by Hindemith

Paul Hindemith, born on this day in 1895, is one of the most significant composers of the early 20th century. His music is described in relation to musical movements including late romanticism, expressionism, and neoclassicism always putting his own spin on the values of each style. The 8 Pieces for solo flute demonstrate Hindemith’s depth of knowledge of the idiomatic tendencies of the instrument and his ability to craft beautiful and tonal melodies from non-diatonic pitch sets.

Performed by Emily Stumpf