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Franzosisches Lied: Est-ce Mars? for Wind Quintet

Composer
Samuel Scheidt arranged by Keith Terrett
Arranger
Difficulty
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
Duration
6 minutes
Genre
Classical music
Instrumentation
Quintet
Instrumental parts
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Franzosisches Lied arranged for Classical Wind Quintet.

This arrangements makes a challenging work for your group, who should relish the rich sonorities of Scheidt’s tapestry.

A wind quintet, also sometimes known as a woodwind quintet, is a group of five wind players (most commonly flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon). The term also applies to a composition for such a group.

Unlike the string quartet with its homogeneous blend of color, the instruments in a wind quintet differ from each other considerably in technique, idiom, and timbre. The modern wind quintet sprang from the ensemble favored in the court of Joseph II in late 18th century Vienna: two oboes, two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons (Suppan 2001). The influence of Haydn’s chamber writing suggested similar possibilities for winds, and advancements in the building of these instruments in that period made them more useful in small ensemble settings, leading composers to attempt smaller combinations.

It was Anton Reicha’s twenty-four quintets, begun in 1811, and the nine quintets of Franz Danzi that established the genre, and their pieces are still standards of the repertoire. Though the form fell out of favour in the latter half of the 19th century, there has been renewed interest in the form by leading composers in the 20th century, and today the wind quintet is a standard chamber ensemble, valued for its versatility and variety of tone color.

Scheidt was born in Halle, and after early studies there, he went to Amsterdam to study with Sweelinck, the distinguished Dutch composer, whose work had a clear influence on Scheidt’s style. On his return to Halle, Scheidt became court organist, and later Kapellmeister, to the Margrave of Brandenburg. Unlike many German musicians, for example Heinrich Schütz, he remained in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War, managing to survive by teaching and by taking a succession of smaller jobs until the restoration of stability allowed him to resume his post as Kapellmeister. When Samuel Scheidt lost his job because of Wallenstein, he was appointed in 1628 as musical director over three churches in Halle, including the Market Church.

Scheidt was the first internationally significant German composer for the organ, and represents the flowering of the new north German style, which occurred largely as a result of the Protestant Reformation. In south Germany and some other countries of Europe, the spiritual and artistic influence of Rome remained strong, so most music continued to be derivative of Italian models. Cut off from Rome, musicians in the newly Protestant areas readily developed styles that were much different from those of their neighbors.

Scheidt’s music is in two principal categories: instrumental music, including a large amount of keyboard music, mostly for organ; and sacred vocal music, some of which is a cappella and some of which uses a basso continuo or other instrumental accompaniment. In his numerous chorale preludes, Scheidt often used a "patterned variation" technique, in which each phrase of the chorale uses a different rhythmic motive, and each variation is more elaborate than the previous one, until the climax of the composition is reached. In addition to his chorale preludes, he wrote numerous fugues, suites of dances (which were often in a cyclic form, sharing a common ground bass) and fantasias.

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