Arndt – Nola

CD110 piccolo, 4 flutes (4th flute alto ad lib) & bass flute (or alto flute or clarinet or any bass clef instrument) Grade 6-7 4′ 10″

Arndt, distantly related to Napoleon III, was born in New York. Initially a self taught pianist, he later studied with Alexander Lambert at the New York Conservatoire. He then worked for various publishers, such as QRS and Victor, and – despite a short tenure – recorded around three thousand piano rolls for Duo Art piano company. He also wrote music for vaudeville entertainers. His style mixes ragtime syncopation with salon gentility. Other works by him include Clover Club, Desecration, Love in June and Marionette.  He died on 16 October 1918, aged only twenty-nine, succumbing during the Spanish flu pandemic.

Nola, in the Novelty Ragtime style, dates from 1915 and is Arndt’s most well known piece. Although Nola is a sobriquet for New Orleans, it was composed for his fiancée, Nola Locke, who was both a vocal teacher and professional singer. The piece quickly became popular, and lyrics were added to a simplified version of it. A fox trot version also emerged a few years later. Whilst not really a true novelty rag Nola was a pioneering effort in that direction and one of the most well known pieces of its type. We can only surmise what Arndt might have achieved had he had a normal life span.

This is a completely reworked second edition, in a more suitable 12/8 rather than the previous 2/2. It is longer and rather more varied, both harmonically and texturally. As ever, the technical challenges and tessituras are thoughtfully distributed. Observance of the accompaniment quavers will give the piece the looked for lightness. Although it doesn’t have to go fast, it may be considered as something of a display piece.

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