New Music Friday: Ballet No. 6 from L’Amant Anonyme

Ballet No. 6 is an orchestral excerpt from Joseph Bologne’s only surviving opera, L’Amant Anonyme (The Anonymous Lover). This comic opera is described as “comédie mélée d’ariettes et de ballets,” translated as “comedy mixed with ariettas and ballets.” Ballet No. 6 is one of the opera’s ballets and features lively major and minor sections that drastically differ in character.

The Guadeloupean Creole composer, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799), led a remarkable life as not only a prolific composer but also a virtuoso violinist, music director, and conductor of a prominent Parisian symphony orchestra, military officer, and fencing champion.

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About Ballet No. 6

This piece works well with a variety of orchestra sizes since the low strings are frequently tutti, and the violin parts are also often unified. This piece offers students numerous learning opportunities, such as experiencing how to perform in the Classical-Era style, 6/8 meter at a prestissimo tempo, ternary form featuring A-Major and A-minor, at-the-frog and off-the-string bowings, hooked-bowings, bow lifts, up-bows at the frog, and more.

Students are encouraged to play the eighth notes off-the-string to enhance the piece’s energy. Keep hooked bowings in the lower half of the bow and lift the bow between each note. At letter C, exaggerate the accents and lift the bow off the string between each dotted-quarter note. Low strings should take extra care not to rush the tempo at letter C, and lifting their bows between each note can help. Open strings are encouraged to be used when possible for maximum resonance.

Violin I, Violin II, and Viola parts are entirely in first position but do require extended fingerings. Fourth finger suggestions eliminate string crossings. Cello and Bass parts include fingerings for shifting, as needed, to either reach higher notes or facilitate playing passages effectively at a faster tempo. The Cello part includes several Viola cues that could be helpful if there is a smaller Viola section in the ensemble.

About Jennifer Meckler

Jennifer Meckler is a music educator, conductor, and violist. Growing up near Hershey, Pennsylvania, Meckler discovered her passion for all-things-string under the baton of Dr. Sandra Dackow in the Hershey Festival Strings Youth Orchestra. Since then, Meckler has earned a BM in Music Education from Ithaca College and an MM in Music Education from William Paterson University, where she had the opportunity to study orchestral conducting and arranging for school orchestras with Dr. Dackow. Meckler’s thesis research, advised by Dr. Dackow, explored arranging for school string and full orchestras. Meckler has also studied conducting with Harold Farberman at the Bard College Conductor’s Institute.
Currently, Jennifer Meckler is the director of both the West Morris Central High School Orchestra in Chester, New Jersey, and the West Morris Mendham High School Orchestra in Mendham, New Jersey. She founded and is the current director of the West Morris Regional High School District Symphony, an auditioned high school full orchestra ensemble.

Previously, Meckler taught elementary and middle school string orchestra, middle school full orchestra, as well as middle school general music in the Canton Public Schools outside of Boston, MA.

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The Guadeloupean Creole composer, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), led a remarkable life as not only a prolific composer but also a virtuoso violinist, music director, and conductor of a prominent Parisian symphony orchestra, military officer, and fencing champion. This arrangement of Symphony Op. 11, No. 2 includes movements II (Andante) and III (Presto). The two movements are to be performed attacca, with no pause in between. The Andante movement features a lyrical melody that is first heard in the violins and then echoed by the violas, cellos, and basses. This music was originally used as part of the overture to Bologne’s only surviving opera, L’Amant Anonyme.

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