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Six Epigraphes Antiques - FL/OB/PN

Composer: Debussy, Claude

Publisher: TrevCo

Edition: 71217


Six Epigraphs Antiques
for flute, oboe, and piano
by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) - French composer

Arranged by Yo Shionoya. This title is originally for piano duo.

Claude Debussy’s interest in antiquity continually inspired his creations throughout his career. The hauntingly evocative soundscapes depicted in Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (1894) reappear in his later compositions taking ancient subjects, but the musical language in such works is rather complex, introspective, and personal. 

Pierre Louÿs’ pseudotranslation of poems in the Sapphonian manner named Chansons de Bilitis (1894) immensely inspired Debussy. In 1900, Debussy selected twelve poems from the collection and created corresponding musical scenes. The music is designed to accompany the recitation of the poems. The music for Chansons de Bilitis deploys a unique ensemble of two flutes, two harps, and celesta, and mesmerizes listeners with its renditions of echoing shepherd's pipes and the tintinnabulation of crotale. In 1914, Debussy adapted and elaborated six of the twelve musical scenes transforming them into a piano duo and retitled the collection as Six Épigraphes Antiques.

My arrangement of this work provides oboists with a valuable opportunity to perform Debussy's late work in a recital setting, as well as makes a small addition to the trio repertoire for flute, oboe, and piano. In addition to the combined timbre of flute and oboe which reinforces Debussy's palette of harmonic coloring, I believe that the oboe adds another dimension to this music by its intense monologue in "Pour un tombeau sans nom" and deepening the triste cry of “l'Égyptienne”.  

For "Pour remercier la pluie au matin", the sixth and final piece of Six Épigraphes Antiques, rather than directly transcribing, Debussy re-wrote distinctly different music, though using the same major motifs and harmonic structure of "La pluie au matin" from Chansons de Bilitis. My arrangement provides two versions of the final piece: Version A is an adaptation of the twelfth scene from Chansons de Bilitis. It has a monotone atmosphere with bold dissonant harmonies and requires the wind instrumentalists to execute an extremely sensitive unison. Version B is a transcription of the sixth piece of the piano duo. It showcases an articulated playfulness in perpetuated motion. The performer may choose to play either, or both.

I hope this arrangement contributes to enrich any oboists’ musical voyage.


Yo Shionoya is a Japan-born oboist, educator, and arranger based in Los Angeles, CA. As an active recitalist, he has planned and delivered numerous solo and chamber recitals with programs including his own arrangements. He is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.