Two Hundred Years of Woodwinds #2
This 1959 series features members of The Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet, made up of flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon. The musicians play a piece, then break it down in order to show how their instruments evoke certain images through music. They also explain the history of the instruments and how they were grouped - eventually culminating in the modern day quintet.
Welcome to the All Arts Vault. I'm Maddie Orton.
The Vault is the place to go
for special access to all things arts.
So we're going into the archives
to uncover some of our greatest gems
and share these programs with you
as they would've been seen decades ago
when they first aired.
Join us for a deep dive into a rich programming history
of over 50 years of archival content.
It's all here in the Vault.
That trumpet call, announcing an important event,
was played from the top of the tower
two centuries ago.
When those brass players came down to earth
and mingled with the woodwinds in making music,
they brought with them their own trumpet-like tunes.
Now, those four notes that you heard
Mozart used in the opening of his Divertimento No. 14.
That was Mozart's Divertimento No. 14
One might have heard it at a garden party in Salzburg
in the 18th century.
Now, that trumpet player who was left up in the belfry
was part of a complex of music
called tower music.
At the end of the 17th century in Germany,
trumpet players and trombone players formed guilds,
Every small village even had their own sort of town band
like we have town bands today.
These fellows were called stadtpfeifer, or town pipers.
They had several duties.
They would play chorales from the church belfry,
they would play secular music from City Hall at noon,
and they would make themselves available
for all sorts of municipal ceremonies.
Among these were festivals, parades,
processions of guilds.
It could be that a city father
with enough influence
would get some of the boys to play at his daughter's wedding.
The most famous of these players was Johann Pezel,
stadtpfeifer at Leipzig and Bautzen.
His fame endures, however,
because of the many compositions
he wrote for brass instruments.
These are still played today.
And today, in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,
the citizens can still enjoy tower music
when they listen to their famous Moravian trombone choir,
which plays from a church tower.
In 1958, when we visited Poland
with the Philadelphia Orchestra,
the members of our brass section were especially fascinated
by the trumpeter of Kraków.
This player renders a trumpet call
every hour in four directions
from the top of the tower of Church of St. Mary.
Now, this tradition has been going on since the middle ages,
the longest consecutive broadcast in history.
[ Chuckles ]
I well remember travelling up hundreds of steps
to see as well as to hear this fellow play.
Although he was outfitted in a military uniform,
I could imagine how he looked in those medieval days
amidst an invading army,
perhaps with arrows coming to him,
still faithfully playing this trumpet call.
Now, all this activity in brass music
was of a civic nature,
and it was the province of the woodwinds
to perform in social functions.
The horns did get into the act.
Their tone was soft enough so that they were allowed
occasionally to play with woodwinds.
Mason you've been speaking a brass instruments.
My instrument, the clarinet, which is a woodwind instrument,
derives its name from a brass instrument --
the clarino, which was a high-pitched trumpet.
In those days, the comparatively new instrument, the clarinet,
sounded from a distance very much like the clarino.
Consequently, it was called clarinetto,
which in Italian means "little clarino."
Because of the range and flexibility of the clarinet,
it became, as we know it today,
the most important instrument in a band.
Some of the most beautiful music
written for a band or a wind ensemble
was the group of six feldpatitas
composed by Joseph Haydn
for the military band of Prince Esterházy,
who was his patron or sponsor.
The feldpatitas, or field serenades,
were composed for an octet of wind instruments
and were meant to be played in the open air.
As I think of how eight men were taken from the Esterházy band
to play for a picnic or some sort of an outdoor function,
it can't help but remind me of some similar experience
in my own life.
During the war, I played in a Navy band
on an aircraft carrier, and there were many occasions
when we were asked to break up into small units
and play for all sorts of functions.
Of course, most of the music we played in the band
was not nearly as beautiful
as our favorite Haydn feldpatita --
No. 1 in B flat.
The first movement is a bouncing allegro con spirito.
As Tony mentioned, this divertimento
is probably the best known of all Haydn divertimenti,
and I'm sure the fame for this particular one comes from
the second movement -- the next movement.
That is the "St. Anthony Chorale."
This is, of course, the same chorale
that we've chosen for the theme for our series.
Joseph Haydn wrote this music,
but I think it's safe to say
that it was Brahms 100 years later
who was responsible for making it famous, really,
throughout the Western world.
He was naturally very much taken with the beauty of the music,
but he was also intrigued
by a little peculiarity in the form.
You see, during the 18th century, most all music
was written in even number of bars in the phrase.
That is, two bars or four bars
or multiples of 4, 8, 12, and 16.
But Haydn wrote this chorale
in the five-bar phrases,
which was quite unusual to use this uneven number.
Bob would you play the oboe part here.
I want to show how this works.
Now, that's just the first the five bars
of a 10-bar period.
And one of the even more unusual features of this
is that you can take out one of the bars --
and it could be either the second or the third bar,
but we'll take out this third bar --
and you'll have a section
which is the conventional four-bar phrase,
and you put this together and you have an eight-bar period.
And it, of course, sounds different
but it's very interesting to hear how it sounds.
Well, Brahms took this very beautiful little melody
and he wrote a series of variations for two pianos
which he later orchestrated.
And in this symphonic form,
it, of course, has become so famous
and is a standard favorite in symphonic programs.
Now, we're going to play it
in our woodwind arrangement, of course,
with the five-bar phrase as it's written.
Well, it's certainly easy to see how Brahms was taken
with such a really lovely little melody
and also how was able to make something
so wonderful out of it.
He had some pretty wonderful material to start with.
This divertimento was originally scored
for two oboes, two horns,
and a serpent.
[ Chuckles ]
Now, this isn't a serpent from the Garden of Eden
-Looks old enough. -Well, yes, it is.
No question about that.
But this is an instrument
that comes from 16th century France and England
where it was used mostly
in accompaniment with choral groups.
They played along with the bass line
to keep the bases sort of from getting off the track
and also to reinforce them a little bit.
And it was also used a great deal in outdoor bands,
such as the one for which this divertimento was written.
But this is one of the many, many instruments of that period
that proved to be cumbersome
and just didn't seem to do the job
that composers wanted them to do,
and it was left along the wayside
in this evolution of wind instruments.
Now, we don't happen to have any serpent players handy,
so we like to play this divertimento
in our own arrangement
for the modern woodwind medium
that is the woodwind quintet as we see it here today.
The next movement of this divertimento
is a lively little minuet.
And like all minuets, it has its trio,
which is the leftover or relic from the Trio Sonata
that we talked about in our first program.
And then we will go right on
without stopping to the last movement,
which is a very happy kind of marching rondo,
and you will hear how Haydn closes this last movement
using a few bars
from this chorale that we've just played.
Now we will play the third movement.
Robert: This Haydn divertimento was written as field music,
probably for a picnic, a barbecue,
or some other outdoor festivity.
But about the same time, some woodwind musicians
were invited to move indoors
for tafelmusik, or table music.
Our opening Mozart allegro was written as table music
by the Salzburg court.
Table music was intended to be played
while the feast was being served,
just as we hear instrumental background music
in restaurants today.
The winds were used in this type of music
because although they did not yet
have the finesse of the stringed instruments,
you could hear them above the noise of the dinner.
This music was simple and melodious
and throughout, there were little horn fanfares
reminiscent of the old tower calls.
A fine example of the use of table music
exists in Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni."
In the final act,
Don Giovanni has invited
the stone statue of his murder victim
to be his guest at a feast.
And like all noblemen, in his home,
the Don had his own woodwind instrumental group
seated in the dining hall to play
the popular tunes of the day during the meal.
Now, our woodwind group
will play the three popular tunes that Mozart picked
for this spot in "Don Giovanni."
The first two he borrowed from his contemporaries
and the third you will recognize
as being from Mozart's own previous opera,
"The Marriage of Figaro."
Leporello sings, "That's a song I've heard too often."
And Mozart has this little joke on himself
because, after all, he was growing very, very tired
of the popularity of this particular tune.
It was number one on the hit parade in Europe in those days,
and wherever he went, he was bound to hear this tune --
reminded him of his popularity --
but he was getting a little bit tired of it.
However, Mozart never tired
of finding wonderful new uses for woodwinds,
and he literally took the woodwind players
and their friends, the horns,
off the streets
and out of the gardens and into the concert hall.
He did more to lift the musicians
who played wind instruments
out of the category of domestic servants and menials
than any other composer.
And you will hear in our next program
the Beethoven septet and the Mozart quintet,
how the strings now accepted the woodwinds
and went on to play many, many divertimenti.
This is National Educational Television.
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