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Art of the Recorder


 for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass Recorders

arranged for violin and flute;
Art of the Violin
for Four Violins (click link to its own page)

Art of the Flute
for Piccolo, Two Flutes, Alto Flute

First composed in three movements,1975;
first and last movements recomposed June 19-24, 2004;
middle movement replaced February 2013
Duration: about 10 minutes

*Recorder Full Score, PDF    Recorder Parts, PDF f&b    

*Flute Full Score, PDF          Flute parts, PDF f&b      Cover

The parts and scores are letter size and suited for either paper printing or electronic music readers.

(for a good recording, see Art of the Violin under Music for Strings; 

the synthesis below is of recorders.)

I. Just For Fun

    Root'n Toot'n     [3:03]    Synth MP3 recording   WAV file

II. Elegy for Izabela
Synth MP3      WAV file

III. An Original Traditional Melody

      Allegro piccolo jigolo [3:56]     Synth MP3    WAV file

    In 1975 I wrote a recorder quartet for my father, Heber Robinson, who was an enthusiastic recorder player with a group at the local Unitarian-Universalist Church in Peabody, Massachusetts. However, the work was too contemporary for the other performers, and the piece was never played.

          In hopes of finding other performance opportunities, I wrote a large number of arrangements for other instruments; Art of the Violin, Art of the Flute, Art of the Double Reed, and Art of the Saxophone. However none found a happy home. (Part of the gag—forgive me for explaining a joke—was that this was an experiment in music that could be played by any instruments that fit the range, after suitable transposition and modification of phrasing or bowing. So it really isn’t the Art of any specific Instrument.)

          In 2004 I decided that the piece must be at fault, and I rewrote the first and last movements from scratch, keeping nothing from the originals. I made new arrangements for four flutes and four violins as before. Performers continued to shy away; the middle movement was one of the most atonal I had ever written, slow and very short (only one minute) and titled “So You Think I’m Too Old-Fashioned”. No one liked it, and I saw that it needed revision.

          On February 4, 2013, a fine local violinist, Izabela Spiewak, who had played on the memorial concert for my sister in 2010, died of leukemia. I wrote this new middle movement as an elegy in her memory. Now the whole piece is tuneful, gentle, and easily appreciated by many ears. Someday its day may come.

          I made other arrangements for four bassoons, and for viola and three cellos. Only the recorder, violin, and flute versions survive.
          In May 2024, the American Recorder Society was kind enough to list this quartet in its online library (link here), where members can download score and parts. Here's the review they included;

Storytelling, passion, sorrow, drama, fireworks -- this full-length concert quartet for SATB has it all! Each of the three movements has an exciting unique character with action in all the parts. The composer lists it as “challenging” and that is an accurate description, with plenty of accidentals, tight ensemble, melancholy and joy using the full range of each instrument. The open key signature allows the tonal center to meander without ever settling on any one in particular or for very long. The first movement “Just for Fun” is curiously marked “Root’n toot’n” and is almost a Bach-like study in melodic development and interplay, full of overlapping dotted rhythms and rapid little Baroque-style turns around main notes. In the Adagio second movement, “Elegy for Izabela”, a simple melodic motive up and down a 4th returns again and again, threading through long, slow chords full of rich emotion. Finally the third movement “An Original Traditional Melody” is a rollicking jig marked “Allegro piccolo jigolo”. The fine weaving and quick tempo in this movement makes it the most challenging of the three to put together. For adventurous players, this piece is worth the rehearsal time required to bring it to the stage.

-- Glen Shannon