A complete recording of Saint-Saëns’ Henry VIII now available

Odyssey Opera, a company based in Boston, MA, just released the very first complete recording of Saint-Saëns’ Henry VIII. You can find the 4 disc CD here. Henry VIII is a grand opera premiering at the Palais Garnier in 1883. The opera was incredibly popular at the time, with performances at the Royal Opera HouseContinue reading “A complete recording of Saint-Saëns’ Henry VIII now available”

The Operatic Saxophone turns one year old—celebrate it by watching opera

Two years ago when everything shut down due to Covid, I started watching the daily streams of the Metropolitan Opera. My interest in opera started before then, but with all the free time and the Met’s high production value, this was the perfect opportunity to dive into the world of opera. Outside of the knowledgeContinue reading “The Operatic Saxophone turns one year old—celebrate it by watching opera”

Listen to the Saxophone in Ambroise Thomas’s 1889 ballet, La Tempête

In 1889 Paris hosted the Exposition Universelle, a centennial celebration of the French Revolution. This was a showcase of the latest engineering marvels—the Eiffel Tower, technological advances—the telephone, and a showcase of the best of French culture. The Paris Opéra was slated to premiere Saint-Saëns’s newest opera, Ascanio, but the opera was not ready forContinue reading “Listen to the Saxophone in Ambroise Thomas’s 1889 ballet, La Tempête”

Opera’s influence on early “turcophone” literature

One of the first saxophone soloists is quite a unique character. Charles-Jean-Baptiste Soualle, aka Ali Ben Sou Alle, was a clarinet student at the Paris Conservatory who graduated in 1844. He took a job playing in orchestras in Paris before going to England with his ‘corno musa,’ aka the turcophone, which was really just anContinue reading “Opera’s influence on early “turcophone” literature”

Another Romantic ballet featuring the saxophone: Discover Ambroise Thomas’s La tempête

Recently I went through the Metropolitan Opera’s archives to see if they have any works for saxophone in their performance history that I have yet to find. During this search, I discovered Ambroise Thomas‘s Hamlet was performed for their inaugural season in 1883-84. Did they use the saxophone in the finale of the 2nd actContinue reading “Another Romantic ballet featuring the saxophone: Discover Ambroise Thomas’s La tempête”

The Voxman Project: Kenneth Tse features theatrical works by Weill and Milhaud

During the darkest days of the pandemic, good art was hard to find. Opera houses, once bustling with activity were empty. Gone were the spectacles of Verdi, Puccini, and Wagner. Fortunately, this pause in the usual fare allowed new voices and new musicians to fill the silence. At the University of Iowa, alto saxophonist KennethContinue reading “The Voxman Project: Kenneth Tse features theatrical works by Weill and Milhaud”

How Charles Koechlin used the saxophone in Cole Porter’s ballet, Within the Quota

Earlier this week, I came across a ballet by Cole Porter, Within the Quota. When I wrote about it, I wasn’t sure whether or not it was orchestrated with a saxophone for it’s premiere in 1923. Since it was programmed with La Création du monde and orchestrated by Charles Koechlin, I had a hunch thatContinue reading “How Charles Koechlin used the saxophone in Cole Porter’s ballet, Within the Quota”

The publisher Edward B Marks Music Company is now in the database, home to Darius Milhaud and William Bolcom

As I keep searching, new works by notable composers get added to the database. The publisher Edward B Marks is home to American composer William Bolcom and includes Bolcom’s collaborations with Darius Milhaud. Milhaud’s output for this publisher is unique, as it includes new arrangements of existing operas and plays. The first work in thisContinue reading “The publisher Edward B Marks Music Company is now in the database, home to Darius Milhaud and William Bolcom”

How opera is instrumental to the “Évolution” of vibrato

For saxophonists, playing with vibrato is second nature in classical performance. But up until the 1920s, most saxophonists played with an even tone. Vibrato on the saxophone was limited to jazz saxophonists and vaudeville stars. In 1928, Marcel Mule was in rehearsal for Edouard L’Enfant’s ballet, Évolution and he had a breakthrough. What if heContinue reading “How opera is instrumental to the “Évolution” of vibrato”

The Jazz Problem: the shifting image of the saxophone in the 1920s

A couple of years ago, I picked up an old copy of The Etude from July of 1924. The editorial in that issue promised the next issue would be dedicated to jazz. I was one month too early. Luckily, the August 1924 issue is archived online. This issue is a great resource for jazz andContinue reading “The Jazz Problem: the shifting image of the saxophone in the 1920s”