Fantasy on an Original Theme

by Jules Demersseman
arr. by Vincent LaMonica

for Reed Quintet (solo alto / ob / Bb cl / bs cl / bsn)

$20 – PDF

The Fantasy on an Original Theme, originally composed for alto saxophone and piano in 1860, was a “charming composition for alto saxophone and piano, so typical of many other mid-nineteenth-century solo wind pieces [which] exhibits sweeping lyricism and demanding technical lines,” according to Fred Hemke in his 1975 dissertation, The Early History of the Saxophone.  This piece was written for a prominent clarinetist and friend of Demersseman, Henri Wuille, who sought to showcase Adolphe Sax’s new invention, resulting in a piece that demands high technical facility with expressive flair.  The piece is in the Bel Canto operatic style common during Demersseman’s life, in the form of a Cavatina and a shorter Cabaletta (a slow, expressive, and ornamented melody with a cadenza, followed by a fast, dramatic, and intricate show of virtuosity).

Featuring the saxophonist within a reed quintet, this arrangement is gratefully dedicated to Caleb Carpenter, with respect and admiration for his incredible musicianship and instrumental facility.

Jules Auguste Demersseman (1833 – 1966) was a French flautist and composer.  He earned first prize at the Paris Conservatory at the age of twelve and had great success as a performer, becoming known as ‘The Paganini of the Flute.’  Curiously enough, despite composing for the brand-new saxophone, he resisted using the then-modern transverse flute, preventing him from holding any notable teaching positions.  Instead of teaching, he composed extensively, especially for the flute.  Much like Paganini’s violin works, they are highly demanding on the performer.

Vincent LaMonica (b. 1993), bassoonist and contrabassoonist of the Doclé Reed Quintet, enjoys a diverse career as a bassoonist, conductor, composer, and educator.  He received his Master’s Degree in bassoon performance from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music after completing his studies at Boston University.  His principal bassoon teachers include David McGill, Nancy Goeres, Margaret Phillips, Ronald Haroutunian, Rebecca Eldredge, Janet Polk, and Justin McManus.