The practice of borrowing and adapting musical materials has resulted in many of the very best pedagogical texts and works that have become standard repertoire for all musicians. When an exercise or composition is played on an instrument other than the one originally intended for, different combinations of intervals and fingerings emerge that can be quite demanding and educational in addition to the added benefit of playing an inspiring study or composition. There has been a long history of woodwind musicians performing works written for instruments other than their own. This article will examine several of the most popular woodwind treatises, formal compositions, and musical scenarios that have been created in this manner and suggest additional ones that are equally suitable for study by all woodwind instrumentalists. A brief list of other well-known works adapted for woodwind performance OR woodwind works that have been played by other instrumentalists are listed below.
- Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata for Flute & Piano (op. 94) was adapted for violin.
- Johannes Brahms’ Sonatas for Clarinet & Piano (op. 120, nos. 1&2) have been frequently played by flutists, violists and cellists.
- Eugene Bozza’s Aria for Alto Saxophone & Piano from 1936 is published for clarinetists, flutists and violinists.
- Johann Fasch’s Sonata for Bassoon & Piano in C+ is commonly played by saxophonists, bass clarinetists, trombonists and cellists.
- Darius Milhaud’s Scaramouche, originally written for two pianos is also performed by clarinet or alto saxophone with orchestra or piano.
- Sigurd Rascher’s Collection for Alto Saxophone and Piano are a group of transcriptions of stylistically diverse compositions from the Baroque that the legendary concert saxophonist popularized in his recordings and performances.
- Astor Piazzolla’s Tango-Etudes for Solo Flute (1987) are six challenging concert pieces that have been published and become standard works for all of the woodwinds, as is the composer’s Histoire Du Tango (1986).
- Niccolò Paganini’s 24 Caprices for Solo Violin and J.S. Bach’s Cello Suites have remained a standard part of the repertoire for all instruments. They have been adapted for virtually every instrument and are available from many publishers.
- Jazz musicians throughout history have made use of compositions created for the musical theater, movies, pop vocalists and orchestral settings and given them their own interpretation—I Got Rhythm, All the Things You Are, Body and Soul, Cherokee, etc.
- The popular Los Angeles-based group Supersax (5 saxes, trumpet, trombone, and rhythm section) harmonized several of the most popular Charlie Parker solos in the 1970s as the basis for their repertoire. This occurred during the same period that the Charlie Parker Omnibook was created—a collection of 60 transcriptions of the genius improvisations of Bird that were made available for Eb, B, and C instruments.
Here are some additional study materials that have been adapted and published for use by diverse woodwind instruments:
Franz Wilhelm Ferling, an accomplished oboist and clarinetist, composed his 48 Famous Studies (Op. 31) for oboe in 1840. These exercises offered practical examples in many contrasting styles and in all of the major and minor keys. As a result of the success of this work, many other instrumentalists transcribed and modified these études for their respective instruments. The great French clarinetist, Cyrille Rose, adapted 32 of the 48 studies for the clarinet shortly after their publication and the Rose 32 Études for Clarinet have become standard teaching tools in clarinet studios worldwide. Rose also transcribed violin studies in creating his 40 Studies, Books 1 & 2 for clarinet. The legendary concert saxophonist, Marcel Mule, used Ferling’s original 48 studies augmented by 12 original studies of his own in issuing his Études for Saxophone based on Ferling.
Outstanding 19th century clarinetists Paul JeanJean and Hyacinthe Klosé produced original compositions for clarinet that have been utilized by flutists and saxophonists for many generations. Jeanjean’s Études Modernes for clarinet, composed in 1868, are a set of 16 contrasting concert-level etudes that have also been adapted to the flute range and are considered standard repertoire for flutists as well as clarinetists. The Klosé Méthode for Clarinette (1844) has been among the most popular clarinet tutors for developing control of the instrument since its publication. It has been used not only by clarinetists but also by saxophonists in various formats: Klosé’s Complete Method for all Saxophones and the 25 Daily Exercises for Saxophone. Charlie Parker was known for practicing from this book and quoting some Klosé licks in his improvisations. (Interview with Paul Desmond, January 1954)
The great flutist, Marcel Moyse, devoted his life to performing, teaching and composing works for the flute. Among his most noted works is Tone Development Through Interpretation, a collection of 90 melodies originally composed for symphonic, chamber and operatic settings. Moyse adapted these melodies for the flute in order to improve one’s concept of phrasing, expression, color and tone. This book has been utilized by oboists and saxophonists because of the similarity in the written tessituras of those woodwinds and transcribed for other instruments as well.
The prominent 19th century English clarinetist Henry Lazarus wrote one of the more important clarinet methods. Published in three parts or the complete edition, this pedagogical work encompasses every aspect of clarinet playing and was widely used throughout the 20th century. Lazarus was also a saxophonist and as a result, it is no coincidence that a number of his clarinet studies have been extremely useful for saxophonists. Aaron Traxler, a clarinetist/saxophonist/composer, transcribed 35 of Lazarus’ studies and Belwin, Inc. published them in 1928 under the title: Grand Virtuoso Saxophone Studies. Although out of print for many decades, it is one of the most important study materials for saxophonists and is extremely valuable. Hopefully, a publisher will attempt to reprint this wonderful book.
Fernand Gillet was the esteemed principal oboist of the Boston Symphony from 1925-46 and a long-time faculty member at the New England Conservatory of Music. His Exercises sur les Games, les Intervalles et le Staccato has been widely used throughout the world as one of the essential oboe pedagogical materials. The scale section of this work has been published in a modified edition for clarinet and flute as well. This work is the most thorough and complete exploration of scalar studies for any woodwind instrument that I am aware of. It goes through every possible permutation of rhythms, articulations and interval combinations. It should be a required book for any woodwind performer.
Charles Louis Hanon was a 19th century piano teacher and composer who wrote one of the most popular books of exercises for pianists—The Virtuoso Pianist (1873). The 60 original exercises encompassed in this book offer a pianist the opportunity to build strength, endurance and technical proficiency. Clarinet legend and jazz virtuoso, Buddy DeFranco, transcribed 20 of the 60 exercises for the clarinet in 1996 and issued them as part of his wonderful book: Hand in Hand with Hanon. All of the exercises are written out in every key and offer all clarinetists a different approach to the daily warmup.
Sigfrid Karg-Elert’s 30 Caprices for Flute Solo (op. 107) published in 1918 are a collection of wonderfully diverse examples of the composers’ free use of tonality and are technically and musically challenging for the flutist. A set of 23 or the 30 Caprices have been adapted and published for saxophone (23 Caprices arranged for Saxophone by Robert Ford) and serve to augment the composer’s popular 25 Caprices for Saxophone (op.153)—a required work for study by any saxophonist.
In keeping with this tradition, I have found additional materials originally written for a singular woodwind instrument but perfectly suitable for another. André Maquarre was a French flutist who acted as principal flute of the Boston Symphony from 1893-1918. His Daily Exercises for the Flute, first published in 1899, are among the most valuable works for flute that I have encountered. In fact, Philadelphia Orchestra principal flute William Kincaid required this book of all of his private students and even had them memorize all of the exercises. There are seven progressive exercises written in every major/minor key which are preceded by two preliminary scale studies–a major and minor key scale exercise and then a chromatic exercise. The seven progressive exercises are original and span the basic three-octave range of the flute. Many of the exercises lend themselves to being played an octave higher or lower than printed and in varying rhythm patterns as well. They are superb warmups for all woodwinds.
Another work that has multiple woodwind benefits is Eugène Bozza’s Douze Études-Caprices pour Saxophone (op. 60) from 1944 and dedicated to the magnificent concert saxophonist, Marcel Mule. Bozza was a violinist and prolific composer who wrote a great many works for woodwinds in both solo and chamber settings. Mule likened this book of technical studies to the Paganini Caprices for violin. They are exceedingly musical and worthy of serious study. In fact, Études/Caprices #6 & 7 are performed as a concert piece under the title “Improvisation et Caprice.” These studies can be played as written with few range adjustments by clarinetists, flutists and oboists.
The Six Sonatas for Bassoon or Cello by Johann Ernst Galliard are wonderful Baroque compositions that lend themselves to the bass clarinet, baritone or tenor saxophones. Written in two volumes and in the bass clef, they afford the bass clarinetist the opportunity to read them as is or transposed up one step in order to perform them with piano. While the sonatas have been transposed and published in treble clef for bass clarinet, I strongly recommend that bass clarinetists read from the bassoon edition in order to gain greater fluency in bass clef reading as well as transposition, a necessity for any orchestral or operatic work one might encounter. Sonata #4 has also been arranged and edited by Sigurd Rascher for tenor saxophonists to perform and is currently available.
Georges Gillet, uncle of the aforementioned Fernand Gillet, was also a notable oboist, composer and teacher. (His most famous student was Marcel Tabuteau.) Gillet’s Études pour L’enseignement Supérieur du Hautbois (Studies for the Advanced Teaching of the Oboe) are demanding compositions that require a formidable technique and emphasize a diversity of tonalities, articulations and musical styles. The 25 studies are perfect for the saxophone, clarinet and flute as written and are reminiscent of the style of Bozza.
Finally, in any discussion of woodwind pedagogy and essential works for all woodwind performers, I feel that it’s important to mention The Art of Wind Playing by Arthur Weisberg. This book encompasses all aspects of woodwind playing including Dynamics, Intonation, Tonguing, Vibrato, Breathing, Technique, Musical Style and Interpretation. Weisberg was a brilliant bassoonist, conductor, educator and promoter of contemporary music and his insights regarding the fundamentals of artistic wind playing represent the most complete examination of these vital topics. Don’t leave home without it!