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Martin had a fondness for the ballade genre – a relatively small-dimensional form in one movement which combined lyrical with lively material in a rhapsodically narrative style, allowing the solo instrument many opportunities for bravura display.
With the exception of the two ballades for viola and for piano, Martin originally wrote every ballade for one solo instrument with piano and orchestrated them later on. The Ballade for flute was written in 1939; it was a mandatory audition piece for a Geneva competition and was premiered in Martin’s arrangement with piano and string orchestra accompaniment in Basel in 1941. The flute ballade alternates the fragile, nervous expressiveness of the soloistic opening theme with faster, somewhat motoric music.