Discovering the flute music of Mieczysław Weinberg
Conway, Alexandra Straubinger
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Composer Mieczysław Weinberg (1919–1996) was a Polish Jew who emigrated to Soviet Russia in an effort to escape Nazi aggression during World War II. Also known as Moisei Samuilovich Vainberg, he became a close friend and colleague of the famous Soviet composer Dimitri Shostakovich. His prolific compositional output includes four works for flute soloist: Twelve Miniatures (1945), Five Pieces (1947), Flute Concerto No. 1, Op. 75 (1961), and Flute Concerto No. 2, Op. 148 (1987). The two flute concerti were written for and dedicated to the famous Russian flutist Alexander Korneyev (1930–2010). These four works for flute are experiencing a resurgence in interest in recent years as Weinberg’s music becomes more well-known. This document examines how these pieces fit into Weinberg’s compositional canon and how they were influenced by flute playing in the Soviet Union at the time. It analyzes the works from a theoretical perspective, explores why they have been so seldom played, and assesses how they fit into the modern flute repertoire. This document also examines the Russian school of flute playing, focusing on the Moscow Conservatory, where Korneyev both studied and taught. The Russian school is then compared to American and French traditions. The purpose of this document is to illuminate the contributions of Weinberg and Korneyev, and to introduce this literature to new audiences.