Mel Bonis: six works for flute and piano

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The end of the nineteenth century was an exhilarating and revolutionary era for the flute. This period is the Second Golden Age of the flute, when players and teachers associated

The end of the nineteenth century was an exhilarating and revolutionary era for the flute. This period is the Second Golden Age of the flute, when players and teachers associated with the Paris Conservatory developed what would be considered the birth of the modern flute school. In addition, the founding in 1871 of the Société Nationale de Musique by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) and Romain Bussine (1830-1899) made possible the promotion of contemporary French composers. The founding of the Société des Instruments à Vent by Paul Taffanel (1844-1908) in 1879 also invigorated a new era of chamber music for wind instruments. Within this groundbreaking environment, Mélanie Hélène Bonis (pen name Mel Bonis) entered the Paris Conservatory in 1876, under the tutelage of César Franck (1822-1890). Many flutists are dismayed by the scarcity of repertoire for the instrument in the Romantic and post-Romantic traditions; they make up for this absence by borrowing the violin sonatas of Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) and Franck. The flute and piano works of Mel Bonis help to fill this void with music composed originally for flute. Bonis was a prolific composer with over 300 works to her credit, but her works for flute and piano have not been researched or professionally recorded in the United States before the present study. Although virtually unknown today in the American flute community, Bonis's music received much acclaim from her contemporaries and deserves a prominent place in the flutist's repertoire. After a brief biographical introduction, this document examines Mel Bonis's musical style and describes in detail her six works for flute and piano while also offering performance suggestions.