Written by Tim Rosenberger
Wednesday, 01 January 2014 00:00
Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Sparling.
Anybody who plays the flute will come across a highly regarded name not known among many average people walking the streets. His name is Joachim Andersen, and he will be celebrated and talked about during an event on Jan. 9.
Carl Joachim Andersen was born in Copenhagen on April 29, 1847 and died in May 7, 1909. He learned to play the flute when he was a child, and after playing in a number of orchestras like the Royal Danish Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, he co-founded the Berlin Philharmonic in 1882.
Little was known about Andersen the man until Kyle Dzapo, a nationally and internationally recognized flutist, researched and wrote about him for her doctoral thesis in the early 1990s. She later wrote many articles for professional journals and published a book about the composer.
For the upcoming event, Dzapo will perform a number of Andersen’s compositions along with a piano accompaniment. Interspersed throughout will be a dialogue between James Ludwig, former associate dean of Slane College of Communication and Fine Arts and associate professor of Theatre Arts at Bradley University, and James Wilhelm, known as the host for PBS’s “Illinois Adventure” for many years. Wilhelm will be playing a fictionalized version of Andersen.
Andersen wrote 67 opuses, mostly for the flute, that included some solo pieces and some piano accompanied compositions. He is most well known, however, for the 188 etudes – short, significantly difficult instrumental music compositions designed as practice material for a certain musical skill – that he composed.
“Most composers write a few etudes, it’s like a developmental process, and then they go on to write other types of work: symphonies, sonatas, vocal work and operas maybe,” Ludwig said. “Anderson was really quite involved in education and these etude study pieces for his entire life.”
“He mastered his material,” Ludwig added. “He began with the same raw materials that were available literary to hundreds of people in Europe at the time that he lived, and he, of all of them, was able to zero in and to manipulate his tools better than anybody else.”
The event is just as much about the man as it the music he wrote. The dialogue between Ludwig and Wilhelm will focus on details about Andersen’s life, motivations and experiences that will speak of the genesis and context behind the compositions being played.
“I think people are very often interested in knowing a little bit behind the music,” Dzapo said. “What was going on? What was the context of the pieces? So, what was going on in Anderson’s life as he wrote those pieces? To whom were they dedicated. That kind of contextual information I think people will find of interest. So it [the event] ties those things together.”
Dzapo describes Andersen’s music as a 19th century, romantic style ranging from simplistic but beautiful character pieces set to lovely melodies with basic accompaniments to highly virtuosic compositions “designed to wow the audience.”
A mixture of two etudes and character pieces will be played. The compositions chosen were picked to show-off his range and the different dimensions of his composition abilities. Dzapo thinks the music is quite accessible and fun for non-musicians and considers the program a lighthearted look at the music.
The free performance will be from 9-10 a.m. on Jan. 9 at the Dingeldine Music Center on 1417 West Barker Ave in Peoria. There will be a break from 10-10:30 a.m., after which William Wilsen, the former music director of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, will host a lecture about Andersen from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
While Ludwig thinks Andersen is an underappreciated and under-known composer who wrote many beautiful pieces, he, possible against the grain of the majority who study Andersen, does not consider him in the top ten of flute composers. Ludwig, though, still thinks Andersen is an intriguing guy.
“Anything is interesting,” Ludwig said. “I was a teacher for a long time, and anything is interesting if you can discover the nuance and the circumstances under which things occur.”
What Andersen did during his time was not terribly different than his contemporaries, Dzapo, who has also serves as a pre-concert lecturer for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, says. He was, however, a better composer, she thinks, than others around the say time.
A constant in Andersen’s composing was his desire to educate, and his pieces are performed by most all, if not all, flutists to this day. The compositions have lost none of their educational benefits.
“Every flutist needs to learn textural dexterity,” Dzapo said. “The flute repertoire demands that they learn to play really fast and that they have a certain ability to play long stretches with very quick breaths and keep the lines moving. By writing the etudes, he tried to help to be able to play very fast, to learn to breath very quickly [and] to have greater endurance.”
That’s his legacy, she added.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 January 2014 10:35