La Serenissima (2013) for ten wind instruments

Thomas Oboe Lee

About this work:

Program note.


Nancy Braithwaite, for whom I have written many works - all of them featuring her instrument the clarinet - told me that she was a member of a wind group based on Richard Strauss’ Serenade in E-flat Major, opus 7, for thirteen instruments: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, four horns, two bassoons, and contrabassoon.  I said to Nancy, “I should write a piece for that group.”  She said that was a good idea.  I soon discovered that the name of the group is La Rondine, or the swallow.  I then remembered that Puccini wrote an opera called La Rondine.  So I told Nancy that I might do a little research on the Puccini opera and come up with a piece inspired by thematic snippets I found in the opera. 


Well, I did not find Puccini’s music that conducive to a transformation into TOL music.


Around the same time, I stumbled upon a 27-CD box set of nine operas by the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi.  As I was listening to these obscure operas by Vivaldi it dawned on me that I was very attracted to what I was hearing, and it was seeping into my musical thinking in the most natural way imaginable.  Very quickly I was hearing things for this work I planned to write for Nancy’s group, and the music just moved along quite smoothly from one movement into another.  At the same time I began reading about Vivaldi and his life as a priest, violinist, teacher, impresario, and composer in the city of Venice and other cities nearby.  What a fascinating life he led!!!  I also discovered in my reading that the city of Venice at that time was called “La Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia.”


So, instead of a “serenade for ten instruments,” my work for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two horns and two bassoons, is called “La Serenissima” as an homage to Antonio Vivaldi and that glorious city of Venice.


La Serenissima is in six movements.


I.               Introduction, allegro …

II.             Largo …

III.           Presto …

IV.            Allegretto …

V.              Adagio …

VI.            Molto Allegro … TRIO



Year composed: 2013
Duration: 00:21:00
Ensemble type: Band:Wind Ensemble
Instrumentation: 2 Flute, 2 Oboe, 2 Clarinet, 2 Bassoon, 2 Horn in F

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