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The Heckelphone: A Window into the History of Music / Works

From Adam Adolphe's O holy Night to Au claire de la Lune by an unknown 18th-century composer, 208 musical works are mentioned in the book and found in the List of Works. For most of these, recordings are widely available, and listening to (some) of those will add to the reading experience. The following list provides links to recordings, in the order in which the respective works are mentioned in the text. In addition, some pieces and recordings are included that showcase instruments mentioned in the book.

Currently, this is work in progress and will likely be completed in August 2024; in the meantime, do come back to check for additions. Enjoy!

Prologue: Basse de Musette

  • Basse de musette (see p.13):

    The following recordings can be found on the GEFAM website (see Online publications / Les hautbois d'église)\ and showcase the basse de musette, solo and in its use for accompanying congregations in psalm-singing. The first recording was made at the Schweizer Radiostudio in Bern for an audio installation at the Grenette Museum in Burgdorf, Switzerland, featuring Alain Girard playing a historical basse de musette from the collection of K. Burri, Bern. The second recording was made during a service on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Centre du Sornetan in the church of Sornetan, Switzerland on 20 May 2001 and features The instrumentalists are Michel Piguet (dessus de musette), Christophe Pidoux and Alain Girard (basses de musette) and Nicolas Rihs (basson d'amour), playing on historical instruments from the collection of the Centre du Sornetan.

Chapter 1: Rheingold

Chapter 2: The Seven Veils

Chapter 3: Paa Vidderne

Chapter 4: Aeolian

  • 🌡 Ferde Grofé: Metropolis - A Blue Fantasy, 1928 (see pp.213-214; 217):

    This symphonic jazz tone poem was premièred in the same concert as Grofé's arrangement of Gershwin's Concerto in F for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, on 7 October 1928 at Carnegie Hall, with Charles Strickfaden on heckelphone. Metropolis, prominently uses woodwind instruments, including the saxophone and the bassoon. According to several sources, including Thomas DeLong's biography of Paul Whiteman, the piece was not too well received by the audience. The piece has been rarely performed and very few recordings exist.

  • 🌡 Victor Herbert: Suite of Serenades, 1924 (see p.215):

    Like Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue this piece was commissioned by Paul Whiteman and premièred on 12 February 1924, in Aeolian Hall, New York City (NY), USA, by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, with Ross Gorman playing the heckelphone in No. 4 "Oriental". The historical recordings referenced here were made in December 1924.

Chapter 5: Potpourri

  • 🌡 Carlos Chávez: Sinfonía de Antígona, 1933 (see pp.260-262; 280):

    Based on the music had Chávez had written for Jean Cocteau's modern version of the tragedy by Sophocles, the Sinfonía de Antígona turned out to be a powerful and unique piece, archaic and modern at the same time, austere yet permeated from its very beginning by an intense feeling of impending doom. Chávez's treatment of the woodwinds, and in particular, the oboe family comprising the heckelphone, plays a significant role in establishing the captivating character of the piece. In the many perfor-mances following its première on 15 December 1933 under the baton of the composer, audiences and critics alike picked up on the exhilarating intensity of the piece, on its unique harmonic treatment, and on the unusual combinations of timbres making up much of its sparse harmonic structure.

Chapter 6: The Agony and the Ecstasy

  • 🌡 Paul Dessau: Deutsches Miserere, 1947 (see pp.312-313; 331):

    Performances of this large-scale oratorio are accompanied by projection of 28 photographs from Berthold Brecht's book, Kriegsfibel, which was completed in 1945, but published only in 1955. The première of Deutsches Miserere took place on 20 September 1966 in Leipzig and was directed by Kegel. The piece is scored for a very large orchestra, including alto flute, heckelphone, bass clarinet and contrabassoon; it is rarely performed and very few recordings exist.

Epilogue: Fermata

The Heckelphone: cover