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Romance Op. 37

by Camille Saint-Saens

Eileen Gilligan and Alex Raineri – Romance Op.37

The Romance is very French School, and was composed after the Franco – Prussia conflict. Written for French flautist Amedee de Vroye and performed in Baden -Baden ,Germany by him and Saint Saens in 1871 . Performed by Paul Taffanel in 1872 in Paris with Saint – Saens.

It is important before commencing any piece to know your background and think about what you are playing. So, what is a Romance?.it is a lyrical piece and a composition of personal expression by the composer. This one feels very personal and very deep. Here is a link to Saint – Saens:

https://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/composers/camille-saint-saens/biography  Short and only an overview.

Camille Saint-Saëns | Biography

Read the official biography of Camille Saint-Saëns.



Suggested listen material:

https://youtu.be/V6TPgwy-nRk  -Danse Macabre

https://youtu.be/ZWCZq33BrOo   Symphony number 3 op 78 C minor

https://youtu.be/3qrKjywjo7Q   The Swan -Yo Yo Ma, this is the warmth a player needs in the Romance.

https://youtu.be/pfBkzWNQTpI  – Cello concerto in A minor

Just a few , you can keep listening there is so much available.

On the playing side of things. This Romance is the longest and most famous of all the vocalisations. Attached is a snippet from “Mastering the flute with William Bennett” by Roderick Seed (the basis of my foundation tools section). Here you can see the use of words, particularly “love” used to help expression, tone and phrasing for the player. This was a passion for Wibb and I must say it helps to produce a deep and expressive sound as well as phrase with the necessary beauty the melody deserves.

You can take his idea all the way through – I love you- I do_ I really love you , yes, I love you etc.

This piece will test if you have mastered Melodious Study number 1 or not. The ” I love you” phrasing and articulation is no mean feat to master but once done it will be with you forever. Wonderful bell tones in the ending too, so the variation of 1 comes into play here as well. It is a classic Moyse “placing every note like fine crystal on a dining table”

I adored playing this piece , it appealed to everything I am passionate about, a beautiful tone, expressive phrasing, shape of a piece, colour and storytelling. For me this is where passion and the flute as a musical voice meet.

Here is the maestro himself playing it, no need to put any other recordings , you can’t get better than this one. One can just dream about playing like this, but it’s great to have that dream.

https://youtu.be/thyZBiXAAWg William Bennett -Romance Op.37 , Camille Saint Saens

https://youtu.be/SeLc1Dtq0gI. Violin and orchestra. I always get more from listening to string players and their bowing, it is a great insight into articulation for us.

Preparation for this is everything especially harmonics as the player needs a full, rich tone and that means full of harmonics. I wouldn’t attempt this until you have control of the melodious studies and tone development extracts. It is more demanding than it looks and is totally reliant on a beautiful sound and expressive control. I was reminded, not to forget about dynamic control and exercises which is easy to do when one does stacks of whistle tones, and pitch bends, pp to ff over the full range is a different control of the air stream, so don’t forget De la Sonorite which has the best example of this . I have attached it for you.

On one of my trips to Wildacres I picked up a hand written book by Moyse of how he kept himself in shape and it has a wonderful section on tone and the air stream. I feel this works in so well with everything in the Foundation Tools and what I am doing. It all comes down to the air and how you can control it every which way as well as a wonderful Stephen Preston quote ” it is how you come in and out of a breath”. I love this quote ,so true . If you want to test whether you have control of your airstream the back of Tone Development Through Interpretation will let you know quick smart- particularly ex E1234 page 78 and 79. Absolutely the most fun I have every practice session flicking this one about, it’s awesome.

https://syrinxmusic.com/products/moyse-marcel-how-i-stayed-in-shape   Link to purchase the book

Moyse, Marcel – How I Stayed In Shape

Marcel Moyse has become one of the legendary great flautists of the 20th century. As a pupil of Tannanel and successor to Gaubert at the Conservatoire National de Paris he stands in the direct tradition of the ‘French School’. How I Stayed in Shape is his last book of studies (1974) presented here for the first time in



So , in essence it is all about tone, control of the airstream, expressive phrasing (using words ) and shaping a piece as a whole.