Benjamin Louis Paul Godard (1849-1895)
Program note written by Jacob Farmer
Approximate Performance Time:
Intermediate Advanced – appropriate advanced high school students and college undergraduates
Paula Robison & Samuel Sanders. Suite De Trois Morceaux Op. 116. Musical Concepts, 2005. MP3.
Galligan, Corinne Marie, “Senior Flute Recital: Program Notes” (2012). Senior Honors Theses. Paper 319.
French composer, Benjamin Loius Paul Godard was born in 1849. He was considered a prodigy violinist and began studying at the Paris Conservatory at the age of ten. This is where he began an interest in composing and was a student of Henri Vieuxtempts. Godard is mostly remembered for his operas: Les bijoux de Jeanette in 1878, Pedro de Zalamea in 1884, and Jocelyn in 1888. He composed four symphonies (including Symphony gothique and Symphony orientale), five violin sonatas, and various piano music. One of Godard’s violin sonatas contains a scherzo is written in the highly unusual 5/8 time signature. His reputation, however, is for salon music. Godard had a two-year stent as a professor at the Conservatoire de Paris in 1887, then a Knight of the Légion d’honneur in 1889. Godard died from tuberculosis in 1895.
Godard’s Suite de Trois Morceaux was written for French flutist Paul Taffanel in 1890. This piece can be performed with piano or orchestra. The Allegretto is simple melodically, saving the last movement for virtuosity. Idyll is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a romantic interlude. The title is fitting for the adagio style movement with its slower tempo and mix of tonalities. This movement weaves in and out of G major, A major, F major, and G harmonic minor. The Valse is the most technically challenging movement of the piece. It shows off the flute’s agility and technical capabilities while keeping the same romanticism contained in the previous movements. The last lines of movement have an accelerando to the end with plenty of jumps, accidentals, and modulating scalar passages, ending in a triumphant high B-flat 6.