Elefant und Mücke

The Elephant and the Flea - Picc-Tba-Strg Orch - Sc

CODE: AP-04184 Sc



THE ELEPHANT AND THE FLEA is a novelty polka by A. Eric Heukeshoven based on a recording by the Dorf Kapelle featuring a Piccolo and Tuba* Duet and String Orchestra with optional Drum Set and an optional introductory cadenza. An audience charmer and professional challenge for soloists! Score. Grade: 3 (Orchestra) / Grade: 6 (Soloists) Duration: 3:06

*Alternate low bass clef instruments may be substituted for the Tuba.
Background Notes are in the Resources tab.


The Elephant and the Flea (score6176.pdf, 162 Kb) [Download]

Background Notes
The Elephant and the Flea was composed by Ralph Maria Siegel (bn June 8, 1911, Munich, Germany - died August 2, 1972) known as a  German schlager composer, lyricist and tenor. Not to be confused with his son Ralph Siegel.
A. Eric Heukeshoven and his wife, Dr. Janet Heukeshoven are a “band couple”. The two met while performing with the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Wind Ensemble – Eric on the euphonium and Janet on piccolo. The couple, in fact, became engaged on a U of M band tour in Philadelphia in 1976 and to this day remain engaged musically.
As Janet was pursuing her Master’s degree in flute performance at the Boston Conservatory of Music, the couple was asked to perform a turn-of-the-century piece titled The Elephant and the Fly. (Yes, “fly”, we’ll get to “flea” momentarily!) The work by the nearly forgotten composer Henri Kling became a favorite of this musical couple. So much so, that in 2004 Eric arranged a new edition for modern concert band for the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary.
While searching for background material on “the fly”, Eric noticed several references to a similarly title work – The Elephant and the Flea. At first, he assumed it was merely a typo but soon learned otherwise.
A recording by the Dorf Kapelle – a polka group led by Ernie Broenimann of Hortonville, Wisconsin was discovered and soon after the couple realized they had found a new favorite duet for their unusual combination of euphonium (a tenor tuba, really) and piccolo. With Broenimann’s blessing, Eric arranged The Elephant and the Flea as a duet with piano accompaniment. To celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, Eric created a concert band arrangement that the couple premiered with the Winona Municipal Band in the summer of 2009.
In 2010, Chip Williams, director of the Minnesota Ambassadors of Music, asked if the Heukeshovens would be willing to perform with a large group of student musicians on their tour of Europe. Williams, however, wanted a slightly longer edition of the music and suggested an opening cadenza be added to showcase the soloists. Eric happily agreed and the version now before you came into being.
However, one critical fact remained a mystery – who was the composer of The Elephant and Flea? Enter Nikolay Temniskov, a tuba player from Sofia, Bulgaria. Temniskov wrote to Eric in 2011 asking if a string orchestra adaptation of the music existed. Eric answered, “not yet”, but was again more than willing to share the delightful music in another format. As the new arrangement was taking shape, Temniskov reported that he found what he believed to be an original recording the music from 1939 on YouTube. Eric clicked on the link and, to his great delight, found not only an original recording but the name of the composer – Ralph Maria Siegel. A few days later Eric was able to track down the original sheet music for Elefant und Mücke and the mystery was finally solved.
Before it’s inclusion in the Alliance Publications, Inc. catalog,  the work was distributed privately by Heukeshoven. On several occasions performers asked if different substitute instruments for the tuba might be available. The music is equally fun to perform with a number of low instruments including: trombone or bass trombone, tenor or baritone sax, bassoon (or contrabassoon!), string bass, and even cello. (Alternate parts are also available from Alliance Publications.)
The Elephant and the Flea is as much fun for the performers as it is for audiences – challenging enough for the soloists and easy enough to be quickly put together by a community group or professional ensemble. As music professors at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, the Heukeshovens’ continue to make beautiful music together and they hope this small contribution to the repertoire will bring smiles to the faces of performers and audiences around the world.
—a e h   8.24.2012