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Haley Borchers

Senior Recital Program Notes

Ballade – Frank Martin

Born on September 15, 1890 in Geneva, Switzerland, Frank Martin began playing and
improvising on the piano before he even went to school. He started composing early on, and by
the age of nine, he had composed children’s songs that were perfectly balanced without having
been taught musical forms or harmony. Martin attended the University of Geneva, where he
first studied mathematics and physics, but later took on piano and composition, under Joseph
Lauber. In 1962, he founded the Société de Musique de Chambre de Genève, where he led as a
pianist for ten years. Throughout the majority of his life, Martin was an active teacher and
taught improvisation, composition, and chamber music at many schools in Switzerland. He
received many honors and awards from all over the world, and in 1973 he conducted the world
premiere of his impactful piece, Requiem in the Cathedral of Luasanne. His compositions kept
the same vitality up to the end of his life, and he continued to work on a composition up until
ten days before his death on November 21, 1974.

Over the course of his life, Martin composed a series of six Ballades, which were all one
movement works designed to showcase the prominent characteristics of the instrument for
which each was written. His ballade for flute and piano is one of the earliest compositions in
this category and was commissioned in 1939 as a test piece for the Geneva International Flute
Competition. As the work became increasingly popular, it was later arranged for flute and
orchestra. Martin uses tonal freedom in the piece, rather than employing serial techniques.
The work utilizes the full range of the flute, contrasting lyrical passages with energetic technical
ones. It is driven by constant underlying two-against-three or three-against-four rhythmic
patterns between the flute and piano.

Suite for Flute and Piano – Charles-Marie Widor

Charles-Marie Widor was born on February 21, 1844 in Lyon, France where he began playing
organ at a young age. He was given his first lesson by his father, who was a well-known organ
builder and amateur performer. By age 11, Widor was so talented that he became the organist
for the secondary school of Lyon. After studying organ and composition at the Brussels
Conservatory under J.M. Lemmens, Widor earned a one year position as organist at St. Sulpice
Catherdral in Paris. He was so successful here, that he kept the position up until four years
before his death in 1937. Throughout his life, Widor composed many works, including
symphonies, ballets, chamber works, and sacred vocal music. Many people say that he
maintained a lifelong position as one of the country’s most prominent and influential musicians.

Widor’s Suite for Flute and Piano is a late Romantic work, and stands out among chamber music
works because of expressive and tonal distinctions. Widor composed the work for Paul Taffanel,
a fellow professor in the French School of flute performance, and it was premiered by him in
1884. It consists of four movements, featuring lyricism and expressiveness, along with lively,
technical passages. The Moderato opens with flowing melodies with brief cadenza like
interludes, which contrasts with the energetic, fast paced scherzo. Deeply expressive in
character, the melodic flow of the first movement is interspersed with unexpected shifts in key
in the Romance. The piece closes with the dramatic Finale, featuring fast chromatic runs and
arpeggios.