Thursday, May 16, 2013

Der Fluyten Lust (and amore) hof

In 1980 I came across a reprint of a volume of Jacob van Eyck's Der Fluyten Lust-hof in the Joseph Patelson Music House in New York. I was preparing to leave town (and country) with my modern flute and piccolo, and had really no idea where I was going after the six weeks I was planning to spend in an orchestra in Graz, Austria and an international flute competition I was attending in Budapest. I had only recently been introduced to the idea of jazz improvisation, and I thought that this little book might be a good way to learn to improvise in an idiom other than the Jazz idiom (which seemed terribly complicated to me at the time). I had no idea that there was a centuries-long tradition of "dividing" popular melodies, so I though that this book, which was actually something quite old, was something quite new.

(You would think that a Juilliard graduate would know something about music history, but this was not the case for me.)

Wouldn't you know it. I got a teaching position in a music school in the little town of Schladming, Austria where a large part of my job was to teach recorder. I hadn't played recorder since I was five or six, so I had to start from scratch with the little soprano Moeck that I found in the drawer of the desk in my studio. I spent the week before the beginning of the school year going through Der Fluyten Lust-hof, and I fell in love with the instrument and the music.

These are five of my favorite melodies from the collection. When I first got my viola d'amore, I tried these pieces out on the instrument. The divisions (all the melodies are divided) are rough, but the melodies are as rewarding to play on the viola d'amore as they are on the recorder.

Here's a link to a PDF of the above piece, and here's a link to the original set of publications from 1644-1656.

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