Grand Harmonie: No Strings Attached
September 21, 2013
How did people hear and rehear popular music in the 18th century? Often it was through arrangements for small wind ensemble, called Harmoniemusik. Noblemen employed these ensembles for private music-making, and as a less expensive alternative to a full orchestra. The core of the harmonie ensemble is a pair of horns with a pair of bassoons underneath, with pairs of oboes and clarinets above. The performers were first-class professional musicians, not the servants who had previously been employed for domestic music. Consequently, their repertory was technically and musically more advanced than that written for earlier wind ensembles. While even the most famous composers wrote music specifically for harmonie, the greater part of the repertoire consisted of transcriptions of larger works. Our program includes selections from Mozart's The Magic Flute, Rossini's Sonata IV for Strings, and Haydn's Oxford Symphony, all in historical arrangements.