Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944)
Program note written by Jacob Farmer
Approximate Performance Time:
Intermediate Advanced – appropriate for advanced high school students and college undergraduates
James Galway & Phillip Moll. Concerto for Flute and Piano, Op. 107. BMG, 2002. MP3.
Fagan, Leslie Michelle. “Flute Music by French Composers: Style and Analysis.” Order No. 10060216 Northwestern University, 2004. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 1 Oct. 2016.
Cécile Chaminade is a French-born composer from 1857, although her birth year is sometimes disputed as 1861. Both her parents were musical in nature, though not professionally. Chaminade took piano lessons from her mother, who was also a singer, until she was fifteen. She began composing at eight years old, and her skills and talents were noticed by her neighbor Georges Bizet. She later took her education under Le Couppey at the Paris Conservatory, but her father’s staunch views of women’s decorum prohibited her from enrolling. Her premiere of Concertstück for piano and orchestra marked the beginning of her career. The sudden death of her father in 1887 marked a sharp transition to smaller piano pieces and songs to stabilize her family’s financial situation. Chaminade died in 1944 in Monte Carlo.
Cécile Chaminade’s Concertino was written in 1902 for the flute Concours of the Paris Conservatory. The original composition called for orchestra but the piano accompaniment is more often played. The overall work is in a ternary form. The piece tests the flutist with never-ending phrases, animated technical passages, and an arduous cadenza. The primary melody is recognizable by any flutist and is one of the most performed competition pieces, especially in the high school category.