Kyle Dzapo — Notes for Flutists: A Guide to the Repertoire (Notes for Performers)
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2016)
One major area of concern for us at Flute Journal, particularly in the area of Western classical flute performance, is that of repertoire. It is our intention to collect and develop reference material that will provide valuable guidance to both students and performers in this area, with reference to all significant genres. This is an important component of music pedagogy, although, of course, for maximum value, it needs to be followed up with direct guidance in the performance of key pieces in the repertoire.
Now along comes an excellent book that will provide a cornerstone in the literature, while providing primarily the first of these essential components. Dr. Kyle Dzapo’s new work, Notes for Flutists: A Guide to the Repertoire, is the inaugural volume in the Oxford University Press Notes for Performers series for which she serves as Series Editor. Dr. Dzapo, Professor of Music at Bradley University in Peoria, IL., inspired by her teachers, among them Tom Nyfenger and Walfrid Kujala, has devoted her career to becoming a “complete musician,” i.e. a scholar and teacher as well as a performer. This excellent book is a result of this overall vision. Described by the publishers as offering “important historical and analytical information about three dozen of the best-known pieces written for the instrument. Its contextual and theoretical insights make it an indispensable resource for professional, amateur, and student flutists.”
The table of contents reveals the list of works she has selected to list and to examine. The complete listing will be made available as a separate item, but, in brief, she places them in several historical categories: Baroque Monuments, Enlightenment Gems, Romantic Favorites, Belle-Époque Legacies of the Conservatoire, Heralds of a New Era, Twentieth-Century Concertos, Mid-Century Solo and Chamber Masterpieces and American Contributions. Within each period she has tried to identify the best-known works for solo flute, flute with keyboard, and flute with orchestra. She states: “The selection of pieces is admittedly a subjective one,” particularly when she had to select only one, for example, J.S. Bach sonata or partita, (she chose the B minor sonata), or Mozart concerto (she chose the G major, K. 313). And so on.
For each of these works, Dzapo only has space for six or seven pages of material, but she manages to pack a wealth of biographical and historical material into each section, along with, in many cases, detailed analysis of the piece. I think it is true that many teachers find that their students need to be encouraged to broaden their historical and intellectual understanding of the pieces they practice in order to master their subtleties of performance. (Teachers: I would be most interested to hear your responses to this. Please contact us!)
Dzapo does not go attempt to go further than this, into the actual direction and molding of ideal performance of each piece; this aspect belongs in the realm of live — or recorded — instruction. It can, however, can be much enhanced when the student is well prepared.
This thoughtful and carefully researched book will prove to be an essential component of this process, “a starting point for connecting performance studies with scholarship,” while also proving of great interest to seasoned performers and music historians. It certainly belongs in the library of every conservatory and music school, particularly where flutists are trained, but even apart from this, Notes for Flutists is rewarding reading for anyone interested in music.
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