Nocturne et Allegro Scherzando (1906)

Philippe Gaubert (1879-1941)

Program note written by Jacob Farmer

Movements:
One continuous movement but with two distinct sections:
Nocturne
Allegro Scherzando

Approximate Performance Time:
5 minutes

Difficulty:
Advanced – appropriate for advanced high school students and college undergraduates 

Recordings:
James Galway, Charles Gerhardt & National Philharmonic Orchestra. Orfeo Ed Euridice: Act II: Dance of the Blessed Spirits. BMG, 2002. MP3.

Source Article:
Chen, Virginia Lee. “The Immortality of Orpheus in Opera.” Order No. 3687403 Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 1 Oct. 2016.

Biography:
Philippe Gaubert is a renowned French musician who is best known for his compositions in flute music and his role in musical academia. While his father was a cobbler, Gaubert chose a musical path at a young age, taking private lessons from Paul Taffanel, a French flute pedagogue. Gaubert later joined Taffanel, who was placed in a teaching position, at the Paris Conservatoire in 1893. In his late teen years, Gaubert was named first chair flute of the Conservatoire and the Paris Opéra. He studied composing with Raoul Pugno through 1904. His studies were interrupted with the outbreak of World War I as he was mobilized to the French Army, where is battalion earned the French a victory. He was awarded with the Croix de Guerre. He returned to the Conservatoire, where he was named the professor of flute. While Gaubert was primarily viewed as a teacher, he was considered a “weekend composer,” writing around 80 known works, mostly for flute, many of which are standard flute repertoire. Gaubert died unexpectedly of a stroke mere hours before he was going to take the podium in the premiere of his ballet, Le chevalier et la demoiselle.

Piece Information:
Nocturne et Allegro Scherzando is the first of three compositions Gaubert wrote for the Paris Conservatoire’s concours, dedicated to Taffanel. Both of movements of the work are in D flat major with slight modulations throughout. Gaubert unifies the Nocturne with a reoccurring three-note motive. The motive is normally presented as a descent of a minor third or as the inversion and this occurs twenty-three times throughout the movement. The Allegro Scherzando movement contains virtuosic technical passagework as the primary theme, inserting contrasting lyrical sections supported by syncopated piano chords. The ending of this work is energetic using fast flourishes of notes, concluding with a strong flute and piano plagal cadence.