Waltzes, Opus 101 (2002) for flute and harp

Thomas Oboe Lee

About this work:

Bart Feller, flute & alto flute Victoria Drake, harp

When Bart Feller asked me to write a work for flute and harp, I immediately came up with the idea of doing a piece made up of waltzes. Why waltzes? Why not? I have been an enthusiastic adult ballet student since the summer of 1988. Dancing to live music, especially the waltz, has been a joy. This hobby of mine has inevitably drawn me to the history of ballet.

Some years ago, I wrote a duo, “Dark Angels,” for viola and cello. Apropos of my interest in dance and music, I matched each movement with a danseur of international renown: Nijinsky, Nureyev & Baryshnikov.

For this flute and harp work---more delicate and lyrical in its instrumentation---I have decided to bring back from history the four Romantic ballerinas featured in the infamous “Pas de quatre” divertissement choreographed by Jules Perrot in 1845 and presented at Her Majesty’s Theater in London: Marie Taglioni, Fanny Cerrito, Carlotta Grisi and Lucile Grahn.

According to ballet lore, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were in attendance at the premiere.

In Waltzes, opus 101, each ballerina is paired with a movement, or “waltz.” The quotation marks indicate that some of these waltzes are pseudo-types---distant relations to the genre. Nevertheless, the triple meter is a dominant feature.

The first waltz, “Dream Landscape,” is Marie Taglioni---the original La Sylphide---who was known for her ethereality.

The second movement, “Waltzin,’” is Fanny Cerrito, who danced with flair, bravura and abandon.

The third waltz, “Lullaby,” is Carlotta Grisi, the original Giselle, who “danced with a perfection, a lightness, a boldness, a chaste and refined seductiveness … ”

The last waltz is Lucile Grahn, a proponent of the Bournonville school, who was admired for her “natural grace, elevation, suppleness, energy, technical virtuosity and strong mime.”

Year composed: 2002
Duration: 00:14:00
Ensemble type: Unspecified Instrument(s):Ensemble
Instrumentation: 1 Flute, 1 Harp
Instrumentation notes: Duo in four movements for flute (alto flute) and harp.

Thomas Oboe Lee's profile »