Howard Hanson, Op. 35. copyright date of 1948. Originally for flute, harp and string orchestra
Hanson dedicated the Serenade for Flute, Harp, and Strings, as a wedding present to his wife, Margaret “Peggie” Elizabeth Nelson; the piece was his musical marriage proposal, as he could not find the spoken words to propose to her. A couple of somewhat darker sections provide some contrast, but the clouds lift rather quickly, leading back to the more pastoral music that dominates this work as well as the Pastorale. This piece is everything a composer's wedding gift to his bride should be: ardent, romantic, and lovely. Despite the tenderness of the music, it flows along with a considerable rhythmic impulse. Using one of the special scales that Hanson sometimes devised for himself, it possesses unusual and original twists to the melodies which give it an indefinable exotic flavor. This gentle six-minute work is a genuine treasure in the flute's repertoire of short pieces, second only to Griffes' Poem among American contributions to that literature.