Saturday, March 3, 2018

Petite Symphonie

The premiere of Charles Gounod’s Petite Symphonie for nine winds (1885) was the result of a particular convergence of circumstances. The first contributing factor was Theobald Boehm’s revolutionary improvements to the structural design of woodwind instruments. Boehm re-imagined the mechanism of these instruments so that they could be built with ideal acoustical properties in mind. The second factor was the concurrent resurgence of wind music as championed by flutist Paul Taffanel. He reached out to several belle époque composers for new woodwind works, and Gounod responded with the Petite Symphonie. The work calls for the standard Mozart serenade instrumentation of two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, and two horns, but Gounod also included a single flute part for Taffanel. (Source: Dr. Amanda Cook, Between the Ledger Lines)

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