Czech-German composer, Carl Stamitz (1745-1801), was a significant German composer during the early classical period as well as a prominent figurehead in the Mannheim School. This term refers to a group of composers in Mannheim as well as musical innovations created within the Mannheim orchestra such as expressive dynamics and tone color. The Mannheim school contributed greatly to the concerto literature, especially for woodwind players. Stamitz took particular interest in the flute, writing seven concertos and several chamber works featuring th
e flute. It is the Flute Concerto in G Major, op. 29, however that is a significant staple work in the flute repertoire. The 3 movement work written in 1780 features many elements of the Mannhei
m School as well as a progressive trend towards virtuosity.
Stamitz's Flute Concerto in G Major, op. 29 is written in the standard concerto form of 3 movements:
- Andante non troppo moderato
Though the structure of the concerto resembles the overall form of the Baroque concerto grosso, Stamitz includes new innovations in his work that allow the concerto to be viewed in a different light. For example, though the orchestra begins the piece with a 45 measure introduction, the flute takes over with a powerful, majestic entrance. In contrast with the concerto grosso style, the soloist is now seen as the leader and is given the freedom to showcase virtuosity. As opposed to the Baroque trend of equal give and take between the orchestra and the soloist, the orchestra was now seen
as solely the accompaniment. The cadenza near of the end of the movement is another example of how the soloist was now showcased individually (pictured here). The following second movement is slow and expressive, allowing for a shift in the overall mood of the piece. The majority of the movement features a singing flute melody in C major, with soft pizzacato figures from the orchestra underneath. The final movement is lively and energetic. It is in this movement that we see many elements from the Mannheim School. For example, both the orchestra and the soloist have fanfare rhythms and stylized syncopations (4 ). Most importantly, the orchestra plays an important role by adding to the intensity of the concerto. the drastic dynamic shifts and overall increased expression of the orchestra intensifies the drama and emotion that the piece is intended to evoke.
Even more signifcant than the Stamitz Flute Concerto, is the Mozart Concerto no. 1 in G major, K. 313. Unlike Stamitz, Mozart was not very prolific in his works for flute, only writing two concertos with orchestra and one with harp accompaniment. However, despite this fact, the Mozart Concerto is argued to be one of the most significant and well written pieces in flute literature. Both concertos are written in the standard 3 movement form with the first movement resembling sonata-allegro form. Additionally, both were influenced by innovations of the Mannheim School, especially the emphasis on galant style. However, the main difference between the two concertos is the overall compositional approach. Stamitz composed his concerto in a more symphonic manner, incorporating long, overarching melodies and writing more expressive parts for the orchestra. In contrast, Mozart wrote in a simplified and elegant style, constructing the melodic lines out of short motivic cells. Mozart's concerto emphasizes the dialouge between orchestra and soloist, including frequent alternations between tutti and soloist. Most importantly, the concerto features several galant rhythms (dotted figures, sixteeth-note triplets, and appoggiaturas) that all work to emphasize the strong drive to the tonic.
Again, having studied both of these flute concertos, I feel that it is of utmost importance for the musician to understand the background of the piece and practice the intended style of the time period. It is evident that both concertos emphasize the melodic elements rather than the harmonic. However, it is very interesting to me that Mozart was able to acheive a perfect balance between the meticulously composed melodic figures and the strong underlying harmonic structure that drives the momentum of the entire concerto.
- "Carl Stamitz- Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in G Major." Youtube Video. Uploaded by Orchestra Bohème. Uploaded on 01 Aug 2013. Accessed on 01 May 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0cH4_umuVo
- Huscher, Phillip. "Mozart Flute Concerto No. 1 in G Major, K. 313." Program notes. Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
- Jones, Peter Ward. "The Concerto at Mannheim c. 1740-1780." JSTOR. Royal Music Association, 1984. Accessed 01 May 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/765979
- Toff, Nancy. The Flute Book: A Complete Guide for Students and Performers. New York: Oxford University Press. 1985. Print.