It is often joked that flutists are ‘worth a dime a dozen’ because there are just so many of us. But what I say is, the more the merrier! In this article, we’re looking at a plethora of flute duets. Let’s get started!
Keeping it Simple
Maybe you or your students are not ready to tackle Mozart’s duets yet; that's okay. Here’s the low-down on some simple-yet-classy, easy flute duets.
Voxman makes a friendly duet book titled ‘Selected Duets’. If you’re looking for something simple, volume 1 would work really well. Alfred, a staple name in music essentials books, has a volume titled ‘Learn to Play Flute Duets’. They’re all graded, so it makes it easy for you or your students to find the piece that suits their level.
Adding Some Disney Magic
Embrace your inner kid, or inspire your students with these Disney flute duets. Some classical cats might frown at the idea of using Disney instead of Delibes to teach, but I say ‘Let It Go’!
Hal Leonard has created an Easy Instrumental Duets series. In it, there is a book called ‘Disney Songs for Two Flutes’. Here you can find songs from Frozen, Moana, Beauty and the Beast, and more. You can also use this book with any other woodwind player who also has a respective copy. Flute and bassoon versions of Disney songs? Bring it on!
Everyone loves some freebies. So let’s take a look at one of my favorite websites for free classical flute music: IMSLP. IMSLP is full of free flute duets. Sure, you could pop your favorite piece into the Musescore search bar. But there are a lot of newbie transcribers on this website, so, unless you’re prepared to fix some typos, try IMSLP instead.
Here’s a list of famous solo flute pieces that you can find, all on IMSLP:
- Kuhlau’s Fantasies for Solo Flute
- Ferroud’s 3 Pieces for Solo Flute
- Bach’s Partita in a Minor
- Hindemith’s 8 Pieces for Solo Flute
- Handel’s Flute Sonatas
That’s a lot of heavy-hitters, for a free website. If all of these solo pieces are on here, then let’s explore some of the duets they have as well.
Famous Flute Duets on IMSLP:
- Berbiguier’s 36 Easy Flute Duets
- Mozart’s 6 Duets for 2 Flutes
- Neilson’s 12 Easy Duets
- Quantz’s 6 Duets for 2 Flutes
- Stamitz’s 6 Flute Duos
- Teleman’s Flute Duets
You can find all of these duets by clicking this link, which will send you to the category: 2 flutes on the IMSLP website. Just search by composer, and download your music!
All of these duets in this list are staples for flutists. You’ll find that the Mozart, Quantz, Stamtitz, and Teleman duets are much more challenging than the Neilson and Berbiguier collections.
Before we get into Christmas Duets and my personal favorites, let’s touch on Telemann.
How many solo fantasias did he write for flute!? He sure must’ve been busy, because he also wrote Nine Sonatas for Two Flutes. Telemann was a German baroque composer from Magdeburg. He was totally self-taught, and he was known for everything from sacred to secular works, both small and large. He played the flute and violin, which is probably why there are so many pieces written by him for this instrumentation.
There’s never a bad time to search up some Christmas duets. I know, I know, it’s the end of January, but hear me out: I can’t be the only one who gets to December 5th, and thinks ‘Oh no, I have NO new Christmas music, and my family is asking for a nice performance for this get-together. All I did this week was play Carmen Fantasie- again. I could’ve been putting together holiday music any time in the past year, but I didn’t.’ So don’t be like me. Pick out some Christmas duets sooner rather than later, and please, practice them too.
Here’s a few more freebies from IMSLP:
- Two Christmas Carol Duets (Kuo) [https://imslp.org/wiki/2_Christmas_Carol\_Duets\_(Kuo%2C_Sarah)](https://imslp.org/wiki/2_Christmas_Carol_Duets_(Kuo%2C_Sarah))
- Six Christmas Carol Duets (Untung) [https://imslp.org/wiki/6_Christmas_Carol\_Duets\_(Untung%2C_Andrea)](https://imslp.org/wiki/6_Christmas_Carol_Duets_(Untung%2C_Andrea))
- Christmas Carol Suite for Two Flutes (Chau) [https://imslp.org/wiki/Christmas_Carol_Suite_for_Two\_Flutes\_(Chau%2C_Chrystal)](https://imslp.org/wiki/Christmas_Carol_Suite_for_Two_Flutes_(Chau%2C_Chrystal))
The duets by Kuo are actually available for either two flutes or two clarinets, and could be really great for woodwind doublers. Untung’s arrangements of holiday tunes are nice as well. They’re simple and great for a quick last-minute traveling flute caroling. Her arrangement of Angels We Have Heard on High delves into the key of D major, and uses the technique of call-and-response.
Lastly, Chau’s suite: it takes an exciting lift-off with We Three Kings in a fast-paced ⅜ to start. From there, it explores Angels We Have Heard on High with slurred, running eight notes. If you’re looking for an easy version of this song, try out the Untung arrangement. If you’re a more intermediate player, definitely check out the Christmas Carol Suite. Her piece is masterfully executed, with many dynamic changes and interesting rhythms.
If you’re looking for a whole collection of Christmas songs, I’d suggest checking out the following books:
In addition to all the other duets we’ve covered today, I wanted to provide a list of some of my all-time favorite flute duets:
- Maya by Ian Clarke
- Andante et Rondo by Doppler
- Flower Duet from Lakme by Delibes
- Devienne flute duets
If you’ve read my flute multiphonics article, it will come to you as no surprise that I’m a fan of Ian Clarke. His piece, Maya, is based on its respective word. In Buddhism, Maya means the power that makes the universe be. In Hinduism, it also means illusion, which is believed to be a power held by the gods. Take a listen to this shimmering, note-bending piece for two flutes and piano, and decide what it means for yourself.
The following three pieces in the list are more on the classical side of things. Andante et Rondo, also a piece for two flutes and piano, gets quite technical at times. If you’re an advanced performer looking for a piece with contrast to take to the stage or a competition, this one would be perfect.
Next on the list is the Flower Duet from Lakme, by Delibes. Originally a duet for mezzo-soprano and soprano, this piece is from the opera ‘Lakme’. Composers have arranged and rearranged this piece over the years for many instruments, but it’s very often arranged for the flute. The nice thing about picking this piece for performance is that there are so many versions to choose from!
The last favorite is Devienne’s flute duets. Devienne was a composer and flutist at the Paris conservatory. They’re beautiful tonal duets that work well for either a quick multi-tracked video for yourself, or for taking chamber music onto the stage.
I hope this list of flute duets has inspired you to expand your repertoire comfort zone, and sheet music shelves. Happy practicing!