Narrative and Allusion in Friedrich Kuhlau's Introduction and Variations on Euryanthe for Flute and Piano, Op. 63
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During his lifetime, Friedrich Kuhlau was a successful composer of opera and incidental music for the stage. Additionally, Kuhlau’s wealth of woodwind chamber music earned him the moniker “Beethoven of the Flute.” Kuhlau’s early biographers focused largely on his dramatic works, downplaying his chamber music. More recent scholars, particularly Gorm Busk and Arndt Mehring, have made large strides to correct this imbalance and shed light on his musical contributions, with Busk providing insight into Kuhlau’s dramatic work and broad musical legacy, and Mehring focusing specifically on his flute works. Following the work of these scholars, this document explores Friedrich Kuhlau’s Op. 63 Introduction and Variations on Euryanthe for Flute and Piano from a dramaturgical perspective, illuminating his sophisticated parody technique. This analysis explicitly demonstrates how Kuhlau’s immersion into the world of early Music Drama profoundly influenced this variation set by integrating leitmotivs, operatic gestures, and tonal symbolism from Weber’s Grand Romantic Opera in Three Acts into the fundamental structure of his work. This document contends that Kuhlau expertly uses allusion and exploits a tonal conflict to drive his musical narrative—one which ultimately subverts that of his model.
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