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Here Comes Treble: Poetic Introductions

Gifted flute player and writer Isabel Bradley weaves words and music into an enchanting experience for both listeners and readers.

For many more of Isabel's wonderful columns please click on Here Comes Treble in the menu on this page.

The first piece of music that I remember listening to is a bit of ‘fluting fluff’ called ‘Am Waldesbach’ by little-known composer, Paul Wetzger. After searching through all my musical encyclopedias and a Google search on the Web, all that I discovered about him is that he was born some time in 1870, he was German, he wrote a text book on the flute, and his Opus 37 – Am Waldesbach! There is no information about when he died, how he lived, or of the other thirty-six pieces of his music that should exist.

As a very young child I frequently lay awake at night, listening to the silvery sounds of my father’s flute drifting down the passage to my room as he sat playing ‘Am Waldesbach’. They were the most beautiful sounds I’d ever heard.

The Brook
Inspired by Paul Wetzger’s ‘Am Waldesbach’

Safe in bed,
Snug under the covers,
Lonely little girl waits
For magical music:

Silvery sounds
drift down the passage,
Soothing,
Singing of misty mountains
Where high waters fall,
Shining in a shaft of sunlight.

Brown winter leaves
Flutter from the trees
Like tiny birds
To swirl in icy waters…

Brook tumbles,
Glints in a flash of lightning,
Shakes to the sound
Of rumbling thunder.

The river runs on,
Faster,
Tumbling around rocks,
rippling over pebbles;
Pauses in deep, still pools…

The sun comes out:
A lark trills and thrills,
And the brook runs on,
Burbling and joyful…

Safe,
Tucked up in bed,
Tiny girl knows,
‘Dad is there’,
and sleeps at last.

**

Saint-Saëns wrote an exquisite Romance for flute and piano. The flute part is, again, rather showy, containing virtuoso passages surrounded by long and soaring melodies and interspersed with excitingly breathless moments. The piano accompaniment creates a magic-carpet of rippling arpeggios on which the tune floats effortlessly.

Romance
Inspired by Camille Saint-Saëns’ ‘Romance’

Abundant joy,
Pulsing with every heartbeat;
A love so deep –
How can it be mine?
Laughter and life so full,
Tender, and gentle, and kind…
Love so passionate, joyful and rich,
So warm!

I fly on Love’s wings,
Soar through the skies
And scatter the stars.

Thank you,
Thank you
for My Love

**

During my teens, I learned yet another showy piece; while it calls for a display of musical pyrotechnics from the player, it is also glorious music – the ‘Fantaisie Pastorale Hongroise’ by Albert Franz Doppler. This time, my research on the composer paid off: he was known as Franz, a virtuoso flautist who toured Europe with his equally proficient flute-playing brother, Karl, as a duo. Apparently their virtuosity caused quite a stir in musical circles. While pursuing his solo and duet career, Franz also became one of the founder members of the Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra. Thereafter, he was, in quick succession, appointed as principal flautist in various orchestras around Europe. Eventually, he became the Chief Conductor of the Vienna Opera Ballet and Professor of Flute at the Vienna Conservatoire. He was born in 1821 and died in 1883. His compositions were mostly for the flute, but he also wrote operas; in both forms he used Russian and Hungarian folk music.

Gypsy Fantaisie
Inspired by Albert Franz Doppler’s “Fantaise Pastorale Hongroise”

Painted caravans
Encircle crackling firelight.

A door opens,
An arm gleams, moonlight-bright;

A rustle of silk,
A throaty chuckle…

Fiddler steps into the centre,
Caresses the strings with his bow;

Then –
With swirling skirts, flashing eyes
And stamping feet –
The dance begins,

Round and round and faster –
They pause –
And dance again!

And
Somewhere on the outskirts,
Gypsy grandma gazes into crystal ball,
Reading of future fortunes,
Her palm outstretched,
waiting for silver coin…

Music twirling, eddying, spinning,
On they dance,
Hearts beating,
Blood pounding hot in their veins…

Fireglow night,
Filled with love
and laughter
and lust!

**

When introducing the works that I perform, giving a little history and a sprinkling of poetry adds to my enjoyment of the occasion; I hope it adds just as much to my audience’s enjoyment.

Until next time, ‘here comes Treble!’

By Isabel Bradley copyright reserved ©

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