Flute Concerto No. 2 in E minor Op. 57 (1819)

Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870)

Program note written by Jacob Farmer

I. Allegro maestoso
II. Largo
III. Rondo Russo: Allegro Vivace Scherzando

Approximate Performance Time:
22 minutes

Advanced – appropriate for college undergraduates

James Galway, Claudio Scimon & I Solisti Veneti. Flute Concerto in E Minor. BMG, 2004. MP3.

Source Article:
Friend, Lisa B. “Saverio Mercadante’s Works for the Flute: The Culmination of the Flute Music of the Neapolitan School.” Order No. 9637749 University of Maryland, College Park, 1996. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 1 Oct. 2016.

Saverio Mercadante, born in 1795, was an Italian composer best known for his opera works. His initial music education came at the Naples Conservatory, where he studied flute and violin, but also had an interest in composition. One of Mercadante’s teachers, Gioachino Rossini, encouraged him to explore this interests, leading to Mercadante’s first seven operas including Violenza e Constanza. He was made the school’s orchestra conductor, and continued to compose several symphonies and concertos for solo instruments, mostly for woodwinds. Mercadante returned to Italy after a stent in Spain and Portugal in 1831, where his operas dominated the Italian opera scene. However, Mercadante remained jealous of the attention Verdi was gaining, whose operas eventually grew to dominate the late 1800s. Mercadante died in 1870.

Piece Information:
Mercadante wrote his Concerto in E minor for Flute and Orchestra in 1819. During his time composing the concerto, Mercadante was also working on ballet music and his first opera. The work exhibits a French style and directly pulls from an already composed work, François Devienne’s Concerto No. 7. The first movement of Mercadante’s work is in sonata form utilizing chromatic passages balanced with melodic sustained notes in the flute part. The middle movement is the slow lyrical portion, while the Rondo Russo employs rhythmic ideas creating a dance theme and melody.