Sonata for Flute and Piano Op. 23 (1987)

Lowell Liebermann (1961-)

Program note written by Jacob Farmer

I. Lento
II. Presto energico

Approximate Performance Time:
13 minutes

Advanced – appropriate for upper college undergraduates and master students

Paula Robison & Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Sonata for Flute & Piano, Op. 23. Pergola, 2008. MP3.

Source Article:
Garner, Lisa Michelle. “Lowell Liebermann: A Stylistic Analysis and Discussion of the Sonata for Flute and Piano, Op. 23, Sonata for Flute and Guitar, Op. 25, and “Soliloquy” for Flute Solo, Op. 44.” Order No. 9727555 Rice University, 1997. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 1 Oct. 2016.

Lowell Liebermann, a New York City native born in 1961, began taking piano lessons at eight years old, then later studying composition at fourteen. He first composition was written at age fifteen and then performed at Carnegie Hall at the age of sixteen. Liebermann has written over one hundred works across many genres, including his Sonata for Flute and Piano, spanning two full-length operas, two symphonies, three piano concertos, and four string quartets. He is a classically trained pianist, and thusly most of his compositions feature solo piano. Liebermann is a graduate from Juilliard and currently lives in New Jersey with his family.

Piece Information:
Liebermann’s Sonata for Flute and Piano Op. 23, was commissioned in 1987 by the Spoleto Festival Chamber Music Series. The piece was dedicated to Paula Robison, the first American to win First Prize at the Geneva International Competition. She performed the premiere of the piece the following year with pianist, Jean-Yves Thibaudet. The first movement, Lento, is in sonata allegro form. The second movement, Presto energico, is a seven-part rondo. The opening theme is a simple melodic line with an ostinato in the piano part, creating a transparent texture. Robison compared the atmosphere in the beginning of the Lento to Schubert’s song Nacht und Träume (Night and Dreams) saying, “it’s a stillness…but in stillness there is life.” The piece can prove problematic for even advanced flutists because of the long phrases with pianissimo dynamic markings paired with wide interval jumps.