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Die Nachtigall for Flute and Piano

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“Die Nachtigall for Flute and Piano”

Chris Hankin Just Flutes staff member - [email protected]

Reinecke's 'The Nightingale', originally for piano duet, is ideally suited to a transcription for flute and piano. Henrik Wiese has crafted the melody into a flute line that is lovely to play and condensed the accompaniment so that it works well for either small orchestra or piano. This is such a charming piece of writing that it's really quite surprising it's an arrangement!

From the Publisher

This arrangement of the Nightingale is also suitable as an encore after Reinecke's Flute Concerto op. 283 or the Ballade op. 288 and is possibly his last work.

Henrik Wiese background notes München November 2023:

The music to Andersen's fairy tale of the swineherd for piano four hands op. 286, from which the present Nachtigallenmusik is taken, was probably composed between the end of 1909 and January 1910. In December 1909, Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) had requested from the publisher Breitkopf und Härtel "a book of music paper landscape format with 5 notes piano staff[s], but if this is not available, portrait format with 6 piano staves", which was obviously intended for piano music for four hands. On 26 January 1910, Margarethe Reinecke offered the manuscript to Breitkopf und Härtel for publication on behalf of her husband. "It is a side piece [= 'pendant'] to his music to The Nutcracker and the Mouse King [op. 46], namely the music to Andersen's fairy tale The Swineherd, whose dedication the Queen of England has graciously accepted: It is a series of musical pieces which, although they illustrate the plot of the fairy tale, are none the less completely independent. As it proved desirable in his time to publish a connecting text to the Nutcracker and the Mouse King, such a text was immediately added to the Fairy Tale of the Swineherd." Reinecke was keen to have the work published as quickly as possible: "As far as the printing is concerned, my husband would be very grateful, if only for the sake of the dedication, if you would have the matter tackled as soon as possible." It is also possible that Reinecke sensed his imminent death and wanted the work to be published while he was still alive. The composer was no longer able to proofread the galley proofs. This work was entrusted to his faithful former pupil Fritz von Bose (1865-1945), by then a piano teacher at the Leipzig Conservatory. Carl Reinecke died on 10 March 1910. The music to Andersen's Fairy Tale of the Swineherd op. 286 was published shortly after his death and was described as his "last work" in the printed editions of the time.

During his stay in Copenhagen in 1847, Carl Reinecke came into contact with the poet Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), who repeatedly attended the Sunday musical matinées in Reinecke's private rooms. Decades later, Reinecke set Andersen's fairy tale The Wild Swans ("De vilde svaner") to music as op. 164 (1881) in a dramatised version for soloists, choir and piano with connecting texts. The fairy tale The Swineherd ("Svinedrengen"), which incidentally ends on a conciliatory note in Reinecke's version, in contrast to Andersen's original version, criticises not only arrogance and selfishness but also the disregard for the natural in comparison to the artificial created by human hands. Similar to Andersen's fairy tale The Emperor's Nightingale ("Nattergalen"), it is the living nightingale that represents the beauty of nature. In Reinecke's rhymed text, the nightingale music follows on from the following words:

            He also cherishes a nightingale,

            That sang with its sweet sound

            Probably a thousand sweet melodies,

            To praise the beautiful world.         

The bird is mentioned again later:

            Now the nightingale showed itself in its grey plumage,

            She sang the most beautiful songs, so that they reached the heart.

As a curiosity, it should be mentioned in passing that the nightingale is not at all native to Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen's homeland. It is only through climate change that it is gradually conquering the northern latitudes   

With the music to Andersen's fairy tale of the swineherd op. 286, Reinecke addresses a young, educated middle-class audience. The reference to the scene by the brook from Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony op. 68, where the nightingale (flute), quail (oboe) and cuckoo (clarinet) sing in a trio at the end, cannot be overlooked or overheard. Reinecke also uses the same motifs of quail (dotted repetition) and cuckoo (descending third) in bars 4/5 of the present nightingale music, although the connecting text makes no reference to these birds. Reinecke could probably assume that his young audience knew this at the time. It made sense to adopt Beethoven's orchestration with flute, oboe and clarinet for the present orchestration. However, the oboe and clarinet bird parts can also be assigned to other instruments as desired.

The rest of the accompaniment in the original version for piano four hands is very dark in tone. It is almost entirely assigned to the secondo part and forms the nocturnal background for the wistful, lovely nightingale song.

In the absence of an autograph, the first edition by Breitkopf & Härtel served as the editorial basis for the present edition (copy in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz, shelfmark: 106889). It is no. 3 Die Nachtigall from booklet II, pp. 6-9. The publication of the fairy tale in three booklets confirms Margarethe Reinecke's suggestion that the movements can also be taken out of context and played individually, as the work is not necessarily available to the player in its entirety when divided into several booklets.

The upbeat notation of the first three grace notes is remarkable. With the otherwise empty upbeat, Reinecke probably wanted to ensure that these notes are not played on the beat. The groups of grace notes in mm. 13 and 17, on the other hand, are placed after the bar line. It has not yet been possible to clarify whether these are engraving errors - Reinecke no longer saw a galley proof - or whether he deliberately wanted to differentiate by using different notation. In another context, Reinecke emphasises that ornaments are to be played on the beat: "It is a rule that the time taken up by an ornament may only be taken from the note to which the ornament belongs." Under these circumstances, the placement of grace notes must be left entirely to the discretion of the performer. 

 

Our Description

Also available for Flute and Orchestral Parts

Please note that the video is the original for one piano, four hands.

Performance duration (approx): 4'30

Difficulty guide: 7
Difficulty level, roughly compared to ABRSM exam grades. 0 is total beginner, 9 is advanced (beyond grade 8).

Item Details

Instrumentation

  • Part 1: Flute
  • Part 2: Piano
Category: Romantic Flute and Piano Music
Publisher: Edition Kossack
Publisher's reference: EK20212
Our Stock Code: 1686043
Media Type: Paperback (8 pages [score])

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