Orchestral excerpts

Posted by
Erin Nichols
 June 16, 2015

Here at the Indy Flute Shop, I have the distinct pleasure of working with flute players of virtually all skill levels–from beginners to college hopefuls to true professionals. One subject that I think is beneficial for players of all backgrounds is becoming familiar with some of the most common and recognizable excerpts for flute from the great orchestral works. Aside from the obvious benefit of helping to prepare for auditions for those who are interested in pursuing that route, it is really a lot of fun to learn to play some of the famous works that we all have heard performed by the best of the best for years!

Rather than breaking down and discussing the most popular of these excerpts, I wanted to give you, our loyal readers, some resources for exploring them on your own. One of the best books covering the most common flute excerpts is Jeanne Baxtresser’s “Orchestral Excerpts for Flute,” a mainstay since its publication in 1995. Baxtresser has been the principal flautist in the New York Philharmonic for 15 years and studied at Juilliard with Julius Baker. Her Excerpts book contains helpful tips and performance notes, errata, new and alternate fingerings, suggested tempi for all pieces, and the pieces are presented in their most common appearance and format. It also includes two updated, professional, principal flute audition lists. It can be found on Amazon or J.W. Pepper music.

For those who may be more interested in simply becoming more familiar with music that you have heard performed, the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) is an amazing database for the promotion of music that operates under the public domain. Only pieces that may be legally shared and are not protected under copyright are available on the site, and they are often scanned from music libraries. Fortunately, this includes many older orchestral pieces, and they are available as individual parts (seen as they are performed) or as full scores. Check it out and search by composer, genre, instrument, and many more at imslp.org.

Orchestral excerpts, with their wide range and skill requirement, are a great way to try new flutes to see just how they perform. Erin has several orchestral excerpt collections and pieces, including the Baxtresser anthology, in the shop. Come check them out, or gather some yourself!

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