Otar Taktakishvili, born on this day in 1924, was a prominent Georgian composer perhaps best known in America for his Sonata for Flute and Piano. He also composed the Georgian National Anthem and many of his compositions, including the flute sonata, reflect his nationalist fervor. Mimi Harding is a Senior Flute Performance Major at the University of South Carolina.
Carl Reinecke, born on this day in 1824, was perhaps the most influential flute composer of the 19th century. His iconic Sonata Undine exhibits the romanticism, sweeping melodies, and programmatic form typical of the music of his time. This recording is part of a larger project pairing music based on poetry with the words that inspire it. The album Words and Music is available from Titanic Records.
Born in Vienna on this day in 1759, pianist, singer and composer Maria Theresia von Paradis was blind from the age of 2. Her most famous composition, the Sicilienne posted here (originally for piano quartet), is now thought to have been composed by Samuel Dushkin, a composer himself who claimed to have found the work. Regardless of its origins, it is a poignant melody and a beautiful addition to the flute repertoire.
Performed by Jennifer Parker-Harley, flute and C
Recorded by Jeff Francis
Erik Satie, born on this day in 1866, published his set of Gymnopédies for piano in 1888 in Paris. In contrast to the displays of virtuosity often exhibited by 19th-century piano music, these pieces are decided simple and tranquil. The precise meaning of the title is uncertain except for a poem by Contamine published alongside the first Gymnopédie which includes the lines “…amber atoms in the fire gleaming/Mingled their sarabande with the gymnopaedia.”
Performed by Jennifer Parker-Harley, flute and Winifred Goodwin, piano
Recorded by John Epps
French composer Jean Françaix was born on this day in 1912. His parents were both professional musicians and he showed an early and prodigious talent. As a young child, he began composition lessons with famed teacher Nadia Boulanger, who considered him to be one of her best students. None other than Maurice Ravel wrote to the young child’s parents, Among the child’s gifts I observe above all the most fruitful an artist can possess, that of curiosity.This sense of wonder, play and humor is evident throughout Francaix’s entire output. He was also a wonderful melodist, as heard here in the Notturno from his Divertimento for Flute and Piano (1953).
Jennifer Parker-Harley, flute
Winifred Goodwin, piano
Recorded by John Epps
Sergei Rachmaninoff was born on this day in 1873. Known both as a pianist and composer, his works exemplify Russian late Romanticism. The Vocalise, originally written for voice without words and piano, has been transcribed for countless instrumental combinations. The simple and poignant melody is supported by Rachmaninoff’s characteristic lush harmonic language that makes his style so attractive and recognizable.
Performed by Jennie Oh Brown, flute (http://jenniebrownflute.com/)
Cindy Trowbridge, piano
Born on this day in 1943, Joseph Schwantner is known for his dramatic and unique style and as a gifted orchestral colorist. Black Anemones – a transcription for flute and piano of a song originally published in 1980 – explores the lyrical side of the flute. Jennie Oh Brown is a great friend of the USC Flute Studio and her recording of Schwantner’s flute works, Looking Back, is available from Innova Records (https://www.innova.mu/albums/jennie-oh-brown/looking-back)
Originally posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnnuKcqsX4U
Sonatine by Henri Dutilleux
French composer Henri Dutilleux was born on this day in 1916. He was not a prolific composer, but his works show great craftsmanship and attention to detail. He did not include anything he wrote before WWII in his list of works, including theSonatine for flute and piano. Despite his disavowal, the work remains one of the most popular works in the flute repertoire and is beloved by performers and listeners alike.
Performed by Zach Warren, flute (USC ’17)
Winifred Goodwin, piano
Jake Heggie, born on March 31, is an American composers most known for his contemporary operas which earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship. Fury of Light was written flutist Carol Wincenc to celebrate her Ruby Anniversary and is inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem, “Sunrise.” The last line of the poem informs the piece, saying “whatever you want, it is/happiness, it is another one/of the ways to enter/fire.”