THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE FLUTE CONCERTO IN 20TH-CENTURY AMERICA:
A COMPREHENSIVE SURVEY AND DATABASE
Dissertation presented in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Doctorate of Musical Arts
Boston University College of Fine Arts, 2006
The purpose of this study was to explore substantial alternatives to the standard flute concerto literature and to illustrate a change in perception of the flute’s expressive range in the 20th-century. This survey identified 336 concerti forC-flute, alto flute, piccolo, combinations of flutes, and duo/trio concerti by American Composers. Inclusion was based upon American citizenship, established by birth, naturalization, or through long-term US residency. A searchable database containing: date of composition, duration, orchestration, dedication, commission, premiere information, and publication information for each concerto was created as a part of this study.
General investigation of the data revealed a correlation between compositional frequency, duration, and orchestral complexity. Concerti for ancillary instruments (piccolo, alto flute,doubling), duo concerti (e.g. flute and harp), and the works of female composers also reflect these compositional trends. In addition, the statistical information regarding concerti by women exposes the influence of cultural feminism upon their compositional productivity. Each of these classifications receives in depth investigation. Examination of individual works illustrates that the quality of composition improved over the course of the century and that the statistical information is indicative of that growth.
This research further revealed the importance of composer—flutist collaboration, much of which was in affiliation with the National Flute Association (NFA). Introductory chapters explore the importance and influence of both Georges Barrère and the NFA in establishing such collaborative efforts as standard practice and in encouraging living composers to expand the flute repertoire. The NFA serves as a curator of the literature and their endorsement of anew composition bears full institutional weight. For this reason, the majority of concerti closely examined in this dissertation are affiliated with and/or endorsed by the NFA.
Correspondence with composers confirmed the influence of these collaborative efforts. It further revealed that composers actively endeavor to raise the standard of composition for the flute. Composers relayed their personal reflections about their compositional experiences, as well as audience reactions to their concerti. In so doing,these composers illustrated that the perception of the flute’s expressive capacity has expanded over the course of the 20thCentury.