Charles Martin Loeffler- Ballade Carnavalesque (1903)

Charles Martin Loeffler (1861-1935) was one of the most respected composers in the United States at the time of his death. Born and educated in Europe, Loeffler moved to the United States at age 20 (1881), eventually settling in Boston. He was originally trained as a violinist and had a distinguished career as an orchestral musician, serving as assistant concertmaster with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for twenty-one seasons. Loeffler began composing seriously in the mid-1880s, and after his retirement from the BSO in 1903 divided his time between composition, teaching violin, and overseeing his farm in Medfield, Massachusetts. His early music has strong French Impressionistic qualities infused with Irish, Spanish and medieval Russian elements, while his later works reveal the influence of indigenous American styles including Jazz and Folk. His more famous compositions include the Two Rhapsodies for oboe, viola and piano, and Evocations for orchestra, commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra.

The Ballade Carnavalesque, for flute, oboe, alto saxophone, bassoon and piano is an expansive, 14 minute multi-section work played without pause. Written in 1903 for Ms. Elise Hall (for whom Loeffler also wrote his Divertissement Espagnol in 1901) the Ballade was given its first and perhaps only performance on January 25, 1904 at the Longy Club in Boston. The work is of considerable interest to saxophonists, for not only is the Ballade related to the harmonic and melodic vocabulary of the Two Rhapsodies, it is one of the earliest chamber works in which the saxophone is fully incorporated into the texture of an ensemble. It is not clear what Loeffler thought of the Ballade Carnavalesque. Although some themes were used years later in Loeffler's orchestral work A Pagan Poem, the Ballade was never published nor is there a record of a second performance. The manuscript was lost for some 75 years until I discovered a copy of the holograph score in the uncataloged stacks of the Library of Congress. Special permission was granted by the Library, and I re-premiered the work in 1978. It has since become a staple of my chamber music repertoire.

To the Fore Publishers is proud to offer this work as part of its Historical Composers Series. In preparation for this edition, two extant holographs of the work from the Library of Congress and the New England Conservatory of Music were examined and compared. Inconsistencies, errors, changes, overwritten manuscript and inserted music were compared and evaluated resulting in a version that is true to Loeffler's intentions. I am indebted to Prof. James Howsman, of the Oberlin College Conservatory for his invaluable help in resolving many issues with the piano score. His unerring eye and ear solved many questionable notes and ambiguities, and the clarity and consisitency of the score are largely due to his input. I am also grateful to members of the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, whose meticulous preparation and invigorating performance helped shape the wind parts into their current form.

Paul Cohen

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