Beyond the Notes: Musical Thoughts and Analyses by Thomas Nyfenger
Compiled & Edited by Dr. Edward Joffe
The second book by flutist/educator Thomas Nyfenger provides a window into his musical concepts and thoughts that he had begun to write down before his untimely passing at the age of 53. Former student and friend, Dr. Edward Joffe, helped to finish the compilation of materials and edited the book. While Nyfenger’s first book, Music and the Flute, deals primarily with recommendations for how to approach the physical aspects of flute playing (embouchure, articulation, vibrato, etc.) in order to arrive at a more successful musical performance, this latest work puts greater emphasis on musical examples and Nyfenger’s approach to solving the inherent musical problems. Some of the works cited include the J.S. Bach Partita and sonatas, Handel sonatas, Mozart Concerti, Fauré Fantasie, and numerous orchestral excerpts. In addition, there are sections that deal with “Playing and Practicing” and “Survival in the Music Industry.” Finally, Nyfenger’s emphasis on harmony (“Hearing the Changes”) and how it governs the melodic line is demonstrated in two realizations of works for solo flute now offered in altered formats: Jeanjean Etude #5 (with his own piano accompaniment) AND Telemann Fantasia #1 offered as a duet. This book is a tribute to the golden age of flute playing in the twentieth century when giants such as Barrère, Laurent, Moyse, Kincaid, Rampal, Dufrêne, Mariano, Tipton, Sharp, Baker and Gilbert roamed the planet and how they approached playing Beyond the Notes!
This kind of book is rare; not many musicians are able to put such clear, outspoken opinions on paper. His urge to find the essence of a work—with most important parameters being time signature, phrasing, and harmony—makes him, for me, a great musician. Nyfenger encouraged the reader not to be afraid of experiments with free thinking and, most important, imagination. He showed that the embellishments in a grave from a methodical sonata by Telemann are not different from the Charlie Parker solo “Just Friends.” A large part of the book describes, often measure for measure, his ideas on important flute literature, including the Bach sonatas, Mozart’s concertos, the Andante from the Fauré Fantasie (with an interpretation as from a movie!), and important flute solos from the Fourth Symphony by Brahms and Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. An appendix includes a number of fantasies by Telemann adapted by Nyfenger for two flutes. After reading this book, I felt as though I had had a refreshing conversation with Thomas Nyfenger himself.—Mia Dreese, Flutist Quarterly
Purchase at Nyfenger.com