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Joaquin Rodrigo - Per la flor del lliri blau (1934)

Published by Piles

This is a transcription by Rodrigo of an orchestral piece, and to my mind is one of our few examples of late 19th early 20th century tone-poems. One of Rodrigo's most substantial works, this symphonic poem was written in 1934 and premiered in Valencia on July 26th by the Orquestra Sinfonica de Valencia. The transcription for wind band was made by the composer, and the work has been strangely neglected. Perhaps the new edition published by Piles in 2002 will restore what is a major work in a 19th century tradition .

The composer comments:

The title of the work is not in Castillian but in the language of the province where I was born. It means "For the Flower of the Blue Lily". The music is based on a Valencian legend and takes the form of a symphonic poem. The end of the text is also in Valenciano and must not be translated; it reflects the mourning of all nature for the death of the young prince.

The poem, which is included in the score, tells of the legend of the three sons of a king, who are promised great wealth if they can find and bring back the flower of the blue lily, with which to cure the king of a sickness. The young prince who finds the flower after much searching returns triumphant, only to be slain by his jealous brothers. Nature itself weeps at the deed.

Passa, passa bon germa,

Passa, passa I no em nomenes,

Que m'han mort en riu d'Arenes,

Per la Flor del Lliri Blau

Joaquin Rodrigo was born on St Cecilia's day, 22nd November, 1901 and died July 6th 1999.

Parmi mi, las tres mejores cosas que hay en el mundo sonm: la musica, la mujer, y la paz

For me, the three best things in the world are: music, women, and peace.

As a result of an epidemic of diptheria, he became blind at the age of three. He wrote:

I believe my blindness gave me more insight with the inner world, the world in which we the blind live. While sitting on this wicker chair I am thinking that the illness, the loss of vision, was the vehicle that took me down the road to music. I have more auditory memories than visual memories, I remember the song of the crickets, of the cicada, the pounding of the waves, the sound of organ and church bells in my hometown.

He studied in Paris from 1927, a student of Dukas, and was good friends with Falla, Honneger, Milhaud, Ravel and many others. He was abroad during the Spanish Civil War, but returned in 1939. In 1940, the world premiere of his Concierto de Aranjuez was given, a masterpiece which has overshadowed his many other works.

Allegro Maestoso - I would ask the percussion and the brass to play loudly but not a bigfortissimo, there is a long way to go! Also the trumpets must balance with the horns, not overbalance them

Bar 9, invite the trombones to play each note with an accent and a poco meno subito

2 before 1 energise the 16th note - if you have controlled the ff the woodwind will sound really wild with their fff.

The passage from figure 1 is rather repetitive and I think makes a better effect if poco ff with a barely imperceptible crescendo up to 29 - keep the energy going.

You may have a problem with the trumpets sounding sharp to the harp 1 before 3.

From 23 take care of the articulation, between the phrases in the 3rd and 5th bars, but also between the repeated notes in the 3rd and 5th bars. For the saxophone version of this tune, ensure that the lower and inner parts are strong and again clearly articulated.

At 4 perhaps the trumpet fanfare is played quietly but campana in aria.

The theme needs more articulation as the orchestration gets heavier.

71Take care of the articulation and the balance, the accent in the flutes is important; the scales in the clarinets are string figurations but will sound more powerful if together.

It is essential to invite the players to employ real dynamics, with a range from pp to ff in this passage from 4 to 6. The rubato is also important, fluctuating quite wildly

From 7 the string figuration in lower wind and brass should not get too heavy, the little arpeggios in woodwind need to start energetically and the rising trumpet and trombone pitches from bar 113 should be increasingly agonised, similarly 8 to 9.

From Figure 9 it is easy for the players to get lost and confused. Keep a light beat and be very clear on the phrasing which I think is 3 - 3 - 5 - 4 and then 3 - 3 - 5 - 5 - 5

Figure 10 is hard to balance if the brass play sostenuto. Ask them to back off the long notes and cut back immediately on the accents. The whole passage is repeated.

At 13 not too heavy on the chords, back off the accents

4 before 14 I remember that there are two bars repeated

From 14, this rather simple folk tune needs to be played semplice but still phrased carefully 4 - 4 - 7 and then 4 - 4 - 8 Again its very easy for players to get lost so give clear cues throughout. I find it very easy to get too loud much too soon. Remember that the orchestra will get loud without help from us, but they will need our involvement towards the end.

The coda around 21 is hard to bring off, the solo players are very exposed

22 onwards may need a little re-scoring to make it effective, at 23 for instance I take the 1stclarinets and even the Eb down an octave to get rid of the edge to the sound. Throughout this funeral march, take care again of the articulation

I have a performance on CD which introduces a tubular bell at 27 - your choice.

It is difficult to sustain the end effectively if we allow it to be too noisy too soon. The whole work is a good exercise in control, just keep building.