Tag: orchestra

Mahler and the shrinking flute section

Is it a crime to mess with a great composer’s score? So shoot me.

Mahler’s Symphony No.6 has five flute parts, count’em: 1 and 2 just on flute, 3 and 4 doubling flute/piccolo, and 5 just on piccolo. Apart from the issue of whether you actually have room on stage for quintuple woodwind, on closer inspection the 5th part is only 4 pages long, a good deal of which is rests. Who are you going to persuade to come along and sit there throughout an extremely longĀ  concert, to join in with the rest of the section for literally a few lines of music? Even worse if you have to pay good money for your extra player.

Much of the remaining is in unison with one or more of the other parts. Could it be left out entirely? No, because there are a few vital little solos, and some sections where the 5th part is the only one on pic (although at least two of the other flutes are in unison). However, at no point are all five parts actually playing five different notes. So apologies to Herr Mahler, but I have done a cut and paste job and rewritten the 4th flute part to incorporate all of the 5th as well. No switching between two scores necessary, and no missing notes.

Mahler 6, 4th movement: reduction of 4th and 5th flute parts


Now also done a flute reduction (5 players to 4) of Mahler 7. The 5th part isn’t as ridiculously tiny as in Symphony no.6, but may still be hard to get an extra to agree to play it (or, for that matter, to fit a row of 5 flutes on the stage in some venues). This one’s a bit more complicated, with a combination of parts 4 and 5 throughout, and small changes required in the other parts too. However, still possible to do with 4 players without a note missing – just a little less tripling/quadrupling of lines. Too complicated for a single pdf, but drop me a line if you want a list of the alterations.