Premiered on March 3, 1887 by the Taffanel Society for Wind Chamber Music in Paris, France, the enchanting wind octet Méditation by Charles Lefèbvre has been lost to posterity until now. Composer Matthew Arau has reverse-transcribed the only remaining version of the original piece, an organ transcription of the piece by Alexandre Guilmant, and re-created the original wind octet. This new edition to wind chamber music is a breathtakingly beautiful and expressive work for advanced musicians.
Genre: Wind Octet | # of Players: 8
Level: 4.5 | Duration: 6:50
F Horn 1
F Horn 2
Charles Édouard Lefèbvre was born in Paris on June 19, 1843 and died in Aix-les-Bains on September 8, 1917. He was the son of the famous painter Jules Lefèbvre (1805-1882). Charles studied with Ambroise Thomas and Charles Gounod at the Paris Conservatory. In 1870, Lefèbvre won the Prix de Rome for his cantata Le jugement de Dieu. In 1895, he became the professor of the ensemble class at the Paris Conservatory.
The first version of Lefèbvre’s Méditation was composed for organ, string orchestra and two oboes. Lefèbvre then reorchestrated the piece into a wind octet for a premiere given on March 3, 1887 in Paris by Paul Taffanel’s Société de musique de chambre pour instruments à vent (see below). The performers at the premiere of the wind octet version of Méditation included the following musicians: Paul Taffanel – flute, Georges Gillet – oboe, Charles Turban – clarinet, Prosper Mimart – clarinet, François Brémond – horn, Jean Garigue – horn, Jean Espaignet – bassoon, and Adolphe Bourdeau – bassoon. Neither versions of Lefébvre’s Méditation were ever published, nor have copies of the originals been discovered.
The organist and composer, Alexandre Guilmant, reorchestrated the version for organ, string orchestra, and two oboes for solo organ. Guilmant’s transcription was published in 1889 in Paris by Mackar & Noël. This present edition for wind octet, a reverse-transcription of Guilmant’s solo organ work, re-introduces the original version for wind octet into the repertoire for chamber winds.
About Taffanel’s Société de Musique de Chambre pour Instruments à Vent
In mid-nineteenth century France, after the fall of the Napoleonic reign, music societies were formed for musical performances outside the jurisdiction of the state funded and controlled Opéra. Because of a general lack of funding for large ensembles, chamber music societies also gained in popularity. In order to draw the public’s attention to the high-quality music already composed for winds and to encourage contemporary composers to write new pieces for winds, Paul Taffanel (1844-1908), founded the Société de musique de chambre pour instruments à vent (Society for Wind Chamber Music) in 1879. Taffanel’s Société played a central role in reviving and reinvigorating chamber music for winds. As the flute professor at the Paris Conservatory, Taffanel was particularly interested in featuring chamber music that included the flute.
The ensembles were composed of many of the finest musicians in Paris at the time—often graduates or faculty from the Paris Conservatory. The prestige of the musicians in the group and the growing popularity of the society led to many new commissions for wind chamber music. Over the fifteen-year period of the Taffanel Société (1879-1893), over 150 different works were performed. Of those, 50 were Paris premieres or world premieres. Six concerts were given each year in Paris at the Salle de Pleyel, and additionally the wind chamber ensemble gave performances in Russia, Germany and England.