commentary to Vocalise

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Vocalise for Clarinet in B-flat (Soprano Saxophone in B-flat) and Piano (1994)

Dedication: for Martin

Duration: 3 minutes

Publisher: Schott Music KLB 97 / ISMN: 979-0-001-20356-2
Misprint: piano, right hand, b. 17: second last quarter F instead F sharp

In the nineteenth century, musical pieces sung to vowels termed as a vocalise were chiefly composed for utilisation in singing lessons, permitting a methodical approach to phrasing and breathing, security of intonation and vocal interpretation. Mendelssohn’s piano cycle Lieder ohne Worte [Songs without Words] marked the beginning of the vocalise in pure instrumental form, transforming the original educational approach into artistic ambition.

This newly created art form inspired composers such as Fauré, Ravel, Stravinsky, Villa-Lobos
and Rachmaninov to produce melodious vocal and instrumental pieces categorised under the French term vocalise which enjoyed great popularity.

In adherence to this tradition, Bertold Hummel composed this piece in celebration of the
birthday of one of his sons, revealing the age of the son in question in the number of bars
contained in the work (whereby a ten-bar da capo was subsequently deleted for practical reasons!).

Hummel’s Vocalise is available in four versions: for voice, oboe, clarinet or soprano saxophone
and alto saxophone, all with piano accompaniment. The respective score was transposed for the instrument.

Martin Hummel

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