Charles Martin Loeffler
Two Rhapsodies for Oboe, Viola and Piano
The Two Rhapsodies for Oboe, Viola and Piano were composed in 1901. They are based on two poems by the French poet, Maurice Rollinar. The is first L’Étang or The Pond. It is an eerie scene which the poems conjures. A girl is by the edge of a pond with its reeds. The sky is overcast and threatening to storm. The pond is inhabited by goblins and consumptive toads and the moon resembles a death’s head. The second poem, La Cornemuse or The Pipes, tells of bagpipes which can be heard like a wailing wind through the woods. They wail for the Piper is dead. But at night, deep in his soul, the poet still hears the pipes. The Rhapsodies reflect the fantastic atmosphere of the poems in the piano part against which the oboe and the viola normally maintain the melodic themes. In The Pipes, the drone of the Bagpipe is evoked by the open fifths and octaves and a constantly changing modal melody which finally fades into the distance.
Charles Martin Loeffler, (1861-1935) was born in Berlin (his original name was Martin Karl Loeffler.) He studied violin with Joseph Joachim and composition with Friedrich Kiel and Woldemar Bargiel. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1882 and served for many years as assistant concertmaster of the Boston Symphony. By the time of his death, he was considered one of America’s most important composers.