Iain Farrington

Pianist, organist, composer, arranger

Paul Dukas: The Sorcerer's Apprentice for Chamber Ensemble

Paul Dukas (1865-1935) composed L’Apprenti Sorcier (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) in 1897. This symphonic poem was inspired by Goethe’s ballad Der Zauberlehrling, written in 1797. It tells the story of an old wizard, who leaves his apprentice to clean up. Taking control of the wizard’s magic, the apprentice summons a broom to do the cleaning for him, carrying and emptying pails of water. However, he cannot command the broom effectively, and soon the floor is flooded. Realising he cannot stop it, the apprentice takes an axe and cuts the broom in two. The two pieces pick themselves up and carry on emptying the water at an even faster pace. At last, the wizard returns and ends the spell, reminding the spirits that they can only be called at his command. Dukas follows the story closely in musical terms, brilliantly capturing the magic, humour and wildness of the poem. The piece was famously used in Disney’s 1940 film Fantasia where the apprentice is played by Mickey Mouse.

This arrangement is for eight players, and captures the colour, spirit and energy of the original. It can be paired with Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals as much of the instrumentation is the same.

Available to purchase from Aria Editions here

Instrumentation: flute, clarinet, violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello, double bass, piano (8 players)