Three Preludes Op.18 for unaccompanied flute

Robert Muczynski wrote pieces not only for piano, but wrote for strings, saxophone, clarinet and flute as well. Shortly after writing his famous Sonata for Flute and Piano, Opus 14, between the years 1960 and 1961, Muczynski wrote Three Preludes for Unaccompanied Flute, Opus 18, in 1962. Despite the fact that this piece is called Three Preludes for Unaccompanied Flute, Muczynski meant them to be encores. One can see this when Muczynski states:

These brief encore pieces were composed not long after my Sonata for Flute and Piano, Opus 14, and represent my first efforts in writing music for a solo instrument without accompaniment. The task was more difficult than I expected since the solo line is everything, with the musical statements utterly exposed and somehow vulnerable. An implied harmonic scheme had to be considered in addition to the rhythmic aspects which require a well-defined projection by the solo flute in order to throw the musical lines into proper relief. The Preludes are fleeting excursions into moods of different character jaunty, nocturnal, and free-wheeling.

It is apparent after viewing these pieces that the different preludes portray the different characters of "jaunty, nocturnal, and free-wheeling.


This piece is comprised of three preludes:

  1. Allegro
  2. Andante molto
  3. Allegro molto

First Prelude

In the first prelude, which Muczynski characterizes by "jaunty," it is evident that this movement is supposed to be lighthearted. This is further supported with Muczynski's tempo marking of spirited and well-accented. The word jaunty literally means "having a buoyant or self-confident air; brisk. With Muczynski's use of syncopated rhythms, time signature changes, sudden changes from very loud to very soft, lack of slurs, and many small leaps between notes instead of stepwise motion, the audience is kept on their toes until the very end of the piece.

Second Prelude

In the second prelude, Muczynski marks the movement as "freely." He also characterizes this piece as "nocturnal." Night is usually an eerie time, and Muczynski evokes this mood by starting the prelude at a very soft dynamic level. Towards the middle, there is an increase in activity, and Muczynski portrays this by making an increase in volume as well as an increase in the amount of notes that are played in one beat. By the end, the opening melody is repeated, which signifies that the piece is coming to an end, and it once again achieves the calm eeriness from the beginning.

Third Prelude

The third prelude, which Muczynski characterizes as "free-wheeling," is very similar to that of the first prelude. Not only does he mark this piece spirited and well-accented, like the first prelude, but he also wants this piece to be light and carefree. Muczynski achieves this by setting the piece in an uneven time signature. The piece not only has a natural syncopated rhythm because of the time signature, but with the use of accents, he further accentuates the off beat rhythm. Unlike the first prelude, Muczynski uses more slurs and step-wise motion in order to achieve a different kind of carefree atmosphere.

Although the Three Preludes for Unaccompanied Flute were Muczynski's first attempt at writing a piece for a solo instrument, his piece is a success and is popular amongst flutists.


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