Ballade for Flute and Piano (1939)

Frank Martin (1890-1974)

Program note written by Jacob Farmer

One Movement

Approximate Performance Time:
7 minutes

Advanced – appropriate for college undergraduates

Jeanne Baxtresser & Pedja Muzijevic. Ballade for Flute and Piano. Cala Records Ltd, 1998. MP3.

Source Article:
Shortall, Lori Patricia. “Thematic, Harmonic, and Formal Aspects of Frank Martin’s “Ballade” for Flute and Piano.” Order No. MM14900 The University of Western Ontario (Canada), 1996. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 30 Sep. 2016.

Frank Martin was a Swiss composer born 1890. Before he had reached the age of nine, he learned to play and improvise on the piano and had composed children’s songs without being taught any musical techniques or theory. He heard Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the age of twelve and was inspired to pursue music, however his parents wished for him to study math and physics at the University of Geneva. In secret, he studied the Piano with Joseph Lauber, beginning a long life of composing and teaching throughout Switzerland and the Netherlands. Martin finished his final piece, Et la vie l’emporta ten days before his death in 1974. 

Piece Information:
Martinû’s Sonata for Flute and Piano is highly regarded as a Martin’s Ballade was originally written for flute and piano in 1939 for the International Music Competition in Geneva. It was to serve as the test piece for flute that year. It was premiered in Lausanne on November 27, 1939 with flutist André Pepin. Martin’s Ballade is centered around nine themes heard several times throughout the composition, either as a strict repetition or as some variation. This piece is divided into three continuous sections with an extensive cadenza in the middle portion of the work. Martin’s most used compositional techniques in the work include the use of imitation and sequence.