Claude Debussy

Arranged by Ralph Sauer

Unaccompanied bass trombone or tuba

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2017

Solo part


Syrinx was composed in 1913 during the impressionist period, a period where composers focused on capturing mood, emotion or situation over structure and tonal center. Originally written for solo flute, Debussy's work depicts the pursuit of the nymph Syrinx, a mythological spirit of nature, by Pan, the God of the Wild. The rise and fall of musical lines throughout the piece provide subtle hints of Pan’s pursuit and of Syrinx’ rejection. The myth ends when Syrinx is turned into hollow reeds; Pan cuts them down to create a set of pan flutes intended to seduce Syrinx. Ironically, Debussy gives the performer a detailed instruction to capture Syrinx' death and Pan's dismay. Perdendosi, “dying away,” is written in the last measure rather than a decrescendo to help depict the notion of loss of life.

Debussy’s Syrinx is written in the key areas of D-flat major/B-flat minor and has been transcribed into C major/A minor. Its range is fairly limited, stretching from BB to e-flat1. However, its technical and musical inflections make the work difficult to perform. Ralph Sauer took great care to include Debussy’s original notation and instructions, Retenu and Rubato for example, as well as grace notes and exact dynamic changes. These markings help portray seduction, being involved in a romantic pursuit, and ultimately, death. This work is challenging and rewarding to play and is most likely meant for an advanced musician given its detailed instructions and its subtle and gentile nature.


Reviewer: Matthew Visconti
Review Published January 31, 2019