Claude Debussy – Syrinx for solo flute (1913)

Syrinx is a piece of music for solo flute which Claude Debussy wrote in 1913. It was the first significant piece for solo flute after the Sonata in A min composed by C. P. E. Bach exactly 150 years before (1763), and it is the first such solo composition for the modern Böhm flute, perfected in 1847. It is commonly considered to be an indispensable part of any flautist’s repertoire. Many musical historians believe that “Syrinx”, which gives the performer generous room for interpretation and emotion, played a pivotal role in the development of solo flute music in the early twentieth century. Some say “Syrinx” was originally written by Debussy without barlines or breath marks. The flautist Marcel Moyse may have later added these, and most publishers publish Moyse’s edition. “Syrinx” was written as incidental music to the uncompleted play Psyché by Gabriel Mourey. It was intended to be performed offstage during the play, and was originally called “Flûte de Pan”. Since one of Debussy’s Chansons de Bilitis had already been given that title, however, it was given its final name in reference to the myth of the amorous pursuit of the nymph Syrinx by the god Pan.The piece is dedicated to the flautist Louis Fleury. Syrinx has also been transposed and performed on the saxophone. It quickly became a piece of standard literature for the saxophone, and has been recorded on both the alto and soprano saxophones.



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