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John Ross, flute

Performer, Educator, Innovator

20th-Century Music for Flute

by John Ross

British flutist and composer Ian Clarke (b.1964) studied mathematics at Imperial College in London while simultaneously working part-time at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he currently teaches.  His Deep Blue for flute and piano was written in 2012. He states that the piece “is partly inspired by the ocean and whale song”. Clarke gave the first performances of the piece at workshops throughout the summer of 2012, and then premiered it in the United States at the 2012 National Flute Association annual convention in Las Vegas, NV.  The piece is written in C-sharp minor with a modified strophic form, alternating two themes with slight variations in length, register, and meter throughout the work. Clarke notates pitch bends within the melodic line of each theme. These are achieved by first bending the pitch with the lip, then utilizing various fingering combinations to give the bend a natural feel and color change.

Eric Ewazen (b. 1954) holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School, where he currently teaches.  Much of Ewazen’s work is based on scenic landmarks throughout the United States.  He writes that his second flute sonata “rides on cosmopolitan sparkle inspired by a party atop Atlanta's Hilton Towers, looking down at the city with live jazz in the background in celebration of concerts at the 1999 NFA convention.” The piece was commissioned by and dedicated to Sandra Lunte and Richard Seiler in 2011.  The first movement, Allegro appassionato, is a lively Rondo that alternates a fast mixed-metered theme with lyrical melodies and flourishes. 

Eugène Bozza (1905-1991) enrolled three times at the Paris Conservatory, studying violin first, and then conducting, and lastly composition. In 1934, he won the prestigious Prix de Rome for his opera La légende de Roukmāni. Winners of this award are chosen by the French government, and then sent to study at the Académie de France at the Villa Medici in Rome, Italy. Bozza’s Image, Op. 38, for solo flute was first published in 1940, although some scholars believe it may have been written as early as 1936 during his time in Rome. It was dedicated to Marcel Moyse, Professor of Flute at the Paris Conservatory. The work is written in ternary (three-part A-B-A') form with a slow, fantasy-like introduction. The outer A and A' sections are fast and technically demanding, while the B mid-section is slower and more lyrical. Each of the sections is linked together by free-flowing cadenzas. 

Canadian flutist and composer Robert Aitken (b. 1939) is well known for his experimentation with extended techniques in his compositions for flute. His Icicle for solo flute was written in 1977 for the opening of Pierre Boulez’s Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), a concert of new and experimental compositions in Paris. It is written with two staves: one that indicates what and how the performer will play, and one that illustrates how the piece should sound. Entire phrases are played with specific keys held open, creating a hollow tone color throughout the piece. Aitken wrote in a program note for the work: “The inspiration came from pranks which [my] flutist daughter Dianne had been playing on her younger, at that time bass-playing sister. The prank involved the theme song to the film The Pink Panther, the rhythm of which may be apparent from time to time in this work. The resemblance ends there, however, as the remainder of the piece is based on the shimmering, glistening effects which can be produced on the flute through quick changes of multiple fingerings and various articulations.”