François Devienne (1759-1803)
Program note written by Jacob Farmer
III. Rondo [Allegretto]
Approximate Performance Time:
Intermediate – appropriate for high school students
Emmanuel Pahud, Kammerorchesterbasel & Giovanni Antonini. Flute Concerto No. 7 in E Minor. Warner Music Group, 2015. MP3.
Montgomery, William Layton. “The Life and Works of François Devienne, 1759-1803.” Order No. 7512883 The Catholic University of America, 1975. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 1 Oct. 2016.
François Devienne was a French composer born in Joinville in 1759. His musical life began as a choirboy for his hometown church, then later on he became more involved in local performance groups and chamber ensembles. By the age of ten he had joined the Regiment Royale des Cravates, a military band, a natural choice for brass and woodwind players. As a sergeant in the band, he was charged with teaching the children of the band’s Free School of Music, which was later chartered as the Paris Conservatory. Devienne was appointed as the school’s professor of flute and a school administrator. During this time, he wrote over three-hundred works (mostly for wind instruments), twelve flute concertos, twelve operas, and many sonatas for bassoon, oboe, and other woodwind instruments. Devienne died in 1803.
Devienne’s Flute Concerto No. 7 in E minor was written sometime between 1787 and 1788. Of the seventeen concertos Devienne composed, only three of them were written in a minor key. The piece immediately begins with an intense, passionate tutti section in E minor followed by the contrasting melancholy and pensive second theme. The Adagio contains a moving melody paired with varied rhythmic ideas requiring great octave flexibility and sustained sound. The final movement begins with a shocking C major theme that modulates to C minor, and then finally coming back to E minor. The technical passages in this movement requires great technique from the flutist. There are staccato sixteenth note triple appoggiatura passages that transition back to the first them from movement one. This piece is considered one of the most popular French flute concertos in the last half of the 18th century.