Johann Sebastian Bach
With a background which boasted approximately 200 musical ancestors, it is not surprising that Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750) developed a keen interest in music at an early age. He mastered the violin and clavier and devoted himself to the study and mastery of the organ. As court organist in the town of Arnstadt at the age of eighteen, Bach became interested in composition, devoting every leisure moment to improving his skills. A devout Lutheran, Bach, like his fellow baroque composers, felt that everything a man does and believes is religious. They believed that their music and art helped protect people against the advance of doubt bred by Renaissance ideas of scientific, rational inquiry. During his lifetime, Bach was more famous as an organist and court musician than as a composer. The people of his time considered his baroque compositions too elaborate. His works were largely unknown until rediscovered some eighty years after his death. We are fortunate to enjoy them now as his legacy.
Fugue À La GigueGustav Holst was commissioned in 1928 by the BBC Wireless Military Band to write Hammersmith. Sensing a need to redevelop his orchestrating skills, Holst set about transcribing Bach’s Organ Fugue in G Major for band as an exercise. He renamed it Fugue À La Gigue, because of its lively nature, characteristic of the compound meter of the baroque dance. The Fugue is technically demanding and features unison clarinet passages and contrapuntal play between ensemble sections. Similar features have been identified in Hammersmith.
My Heart is Filled With Longing
The chorale was a simple, four-line musical form used in the early days of the Protestant Reformation. Chorales were taught to congregations, who were for the most part illiterate, through a process where a cantor would sing one line at a time, with the congregation repeating each line until they could sing it from memory. The chorale upon which this Alfred Reed arrangement is based is number 727 in the BWV index of Bach's works and was written between 1708 and 1717.
Prelude and Fugue in D Minor
This composition is part of a collection for organ entitled The Eight Little Preludes and Fugues. This transcription by R. L. Moehlmann retains the sonority and interplays of the Baroque original. Originally a short, extemporaneous piece of music that developed out of a musician’s natural tendency to play a few notes before commencing, the prelude developed into a formal part of the music. The Prelude introduces the musical key of the composition. Eighth-note runs of the woodwinds liven an otherwise somber key of D minor. The Fugue introduces its theme at a brisker tempo and the added voices develop an imitative counterpoint.
In his last position, as director of the St. Thomas Church Choir in Leipzig, Bach's duty made it necessary for him to compose and have ready a new composition for each church day. Much of what survives as his Five complete sets of Church Music for all the Sundays and Holy days of the year had been written by the year 1731, when an unusually early date for Easter meant that Bach had to provide music for the 27th day after Trinity. The Gospel for the day ws the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Mathew 25:1-13). This chorale is the opening movement of his cantata (BVW 140) Wachet auf, ruft uns di Stimme -- Awake! calls the voice of the watchman. It is a bustling portrait in sound of the city of Jerusalem, waiting at midnight, with watchers posted on the battlements for the arrival of the “bridegroom”. The urgent dotted chords are tossed back and forth between the instrumental sections, relating the restless nature of the crowd. They relay the watchmen's cries in imitative counterpoint. The choral tune is heard in the long notes of the treble instruments, but it never breaks the energy of the work.
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
The first three notes of this piece are probably the most famous notes of all organ literature. Its titanic diminished chords, thunderous pedal lines, and theatrical dynamic contrasts have brought this work notoriety beyond the church and concert hall and into films ranging from “Fantasia” to “Rollerball.” The toccata (derived from the word, toccare, to touch) was a technical work in which difficulties of execution were always present Rather than considering that this work presents a fugue preceded by a toccata, the title of this work is best interpreted as the brilliant composition of a fugue phrase itself, weaving through the blazing, triumphant chords. After the announcement of the theme, the rhythm of sixteenths continues almost without interruption to the final measures.
Little is known of P.D.Q. Bach (1807 - 1742 ?) due to a conspiracy of silence perpetrated by his own parents. The last and least of the great J. S. Bach's twenty-odd children, he was certainly the oddest. His father completely ignored him, setting an example for his family and posterity. He finally attained total obscurity at the time of his death. His musical output would be lost but for the efforts of Professor Peter Schickele, who in 1954, rummaging around in a Bavarian castle in search of musical gems, happened upon the original manuscript of the Sanka Cantata, being employed as a strainer in the castle caretaker's percolator. A cursory examination of the music immediately revealed the reason for the atrocious taste of the coffee. Other works attributed to P.D.Q. Bach are The Abduction of Figaro, Oedipus Tex, Wachet Arf, The Seasonings, The Short-Tempered Clavier, Art of the Ground Round, and The Magic Bassoon. See Prof. Peter Schickele.
Grand Serenade for an Awful Lot of Winds and Percussion
The Grand Serenade was composed on commission from Prince Fred of Wein-am-Rhein, for some sort of outdoor occasion. P.D.Q. Bach had originally wanted to write a really big work of thirty-five or forty minutes duration, but he agreed to make it only a third as long when Prince Fred offered to triple the fee. Soon after it was played, a member of the Prince's household used the pages of the score to wrap six large sausages, which were sent to Paris to be presented as a gift to Benjamin Franklin, from whom the Prince was anxious to obtain the specifications for building a glass harmonica, which Franklin had recently perfected. Eventually, the manuscript made its way to an attic in Boston, where Peter Schickele found it among the belongings of an eighteenth century Tory, in a box marked “Seditious Material.'' Some adjustments have been made to the arrangement for the lack of a dill piccolo, which is now obsolete and litte is known. (Theodore Presser Co.)
Within the concert band community, Warren Barker is well known for his many fine arrangements of music from Broadway musicals and Hollywood films. His Capriccio and his Concertante for Solo Piano and Band are outstanding original compositions. Born April 16, 1923 in Oakland, CA, Barker received his formal education at the University of California, Los Angeles and he studied privately with Henri Prentis and Mario Castelnuoveo-Tedesco. He served as staff music director for Warner Bros. Records from 1948 to 1960, before becoming a freelance composer for television and motion pictures. He has written scores for many television series; a partial listing includes Bewitched, Daktari, The Flying Nun, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Ripcord, That Girl, Bracken's World, My World and Welcome to It, and Room 222. After living in Red Bluff, CA, he moved to Greenville, SC. An active composer and arranger, Barker died on August 3, 2006. He served as guest conductor of the Foothill College Symphonic Wind Ensemble in 1988 and 1989.
A Leroy Anderson Portrait
This arrangement by Warren Barker gives a sampling of some of the many tunes that have brought enjoyment to Leroy Anderson's fans. The bright mood of the Beguine tempo of Serenata begins the portrait. A light swing transition introduces The Syncopated Clock. The Blue Tango brings back a Latin tempo before the brisk finale of Bugler's Holiday, which has been credited for motivating the most trumpeters to learn (or improve) the art of double-tonguing.
Famous for his “concert music with a pop quality'' (his own words), Leroy Anderson (1908 - 1975) possessed not merely a skill in technique and a rich melodic gift, but also an engaging sense of humor. He was particularly successful in creating descriptive pieces that effectively borrowed sounds and rhythms of the extramusical world, such as the ticking of a clock, the clicking of a typewriter, and the ringing of sleigh bells. Leroy Anderson first studied music with his mother, who was a church organist. He earned a B.A. degree in music at Harvard University in 1929 and an M.A. degree in foreign language there the following year. As a student, he conducted the Harvard Band from 1928 to 1930. He became a music instructor at Radcliffe College from 1930 to 1932 and returned to Harvard as band conductor from 1932 to 1935. Later, he served as a church choir director, an organist, a conductor, and a composer-arranger, whose works in the “encore'' category have few equals. Anderson was a captain in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps during and after World War II.
Broadway has given us a large number of musical performances that
have excited the audiences to spontaneously react with applause that
interrupts the production. Warren Barker has produced an arrangement
of six of these notable songs. Everything’s Coming Up Roses
was sung by Ethel Merman performing as Rose in “Gypsy.” Based on the
life of Fanny Brice, the 1964 musical “Funny Girl” featured Barbra
Streisand singing People. Alfred Doolittle, Eliza’s father,
told us that his fate could change With a Little Bit of Luck
in the production of “My Fair Lady.” On A Clear Day is both
the name of the song and the musical premiered in 1965 that concerns a
woman with ESP who has been reincarnated, starring Barbara Harris. It
reached a wider audience in the 1970 film with Barbra Streisand. The
opening song for “The Fantasticks” was Try To Remember,
extolling the audience to imagine what the sparce set suggests. The
success of these musical productions is summed up with That’s
Entertainment! written for the MGM musical film “The Band
Wagon.” It has become a signature tune on Broadway and in Hollywood.
Capriccio for Saxophone Quartet and Band
Commissioned by the prestigious Northshore Concert Band of Wilmette, Illinois, under the direction of John P. Paynter, this work was written as a feature for solo saxophone quartet (soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone) and concert band. In keeping with its title, Capriccio possesses a light and lively style with a somewhat improvisatory character. The introduction has the quartet establishing the central theme that will be heard throughout the work, appearing in tempo from vivace to andante. Cadenza-like sections place high technical and musical demands on the soloists.
Concertante for Piano and Band
Warren Barker, well known composer and Hollywood arranger, calls his Concertante a “Showcase for Piano”. Its style brings to mind the Warsaw and Spellbound Concertos, lush and dramatic, with jazzy interludes and the haunting lyricism reminiscent of the great film scores of our recent past.Mr. Barker has the ability to create an instrumental match for piano and symphonic band which allows soloist and ensemble to perform as a duet, rather than the typical “accompanied solo.” Even though there are soloistic passages throughout, one can feel the piano belongs to the ensemble and is creating an extra dimension of sound to a beautifully well crafted and balanced score. This composition is a most welcome addition to the extremely small repertoire of music for symphonic band and piano.
In The Miller Mood
Warren Barker’s arrangement captures the style and sound of Miller’s dance band. It has the careful mix of swing, jazz, and improvisation that has made the music popular for many generations. Sentimental ballads and swinging riffs will bring back sweet memories to many and set many toes tapping.
See Glenn Miller
This arrangement by Warren Barker highlights five of Mancini's award winning compositions. Moon River was a featured in the film “Breakfast at Tiffany's” and smiles usually break out at the sound of the Baby Elephant Walk from “Hatari.” Charade and Dear Heart were memorable tunes from the 60's. The theme of the television series about a detective named Peter Gunn concludes the piece. (see Henry Mancini)
The listener may have a hard time unscrambling the title of this march, but it is a spirited and refreshing work that easily catches the imagination. The constantly shifting harmonic centers, angular rhythmic activity, aggressive counter-melodic writing, and joyous mood of this composition are reminiscent of Leonard Bernstein's Overture to Candide. The traditional coda ending of the march has a very unconventional twist.
Tribute to Irving Berlin
Jerome Kern once commented that “Irving Berlin has no place in American music -- he is American music.” Berlin's achievements as a philanthropist, innovator in musical theater, soldier, publisher of music and composer of film scores are by no means minor, but they fade into a role of secondary importance when compared with his forte - the invention of melodies and lyrics of simple charm and universal appeal and genius which led to his domination of the popular song writing field and his endearment by the American public. We are pleased to present this Warren Barker arrangement of more than a dozen of Irving Berlin's greatest hits in a tribute to a great man who will be deeply missed.
(see Irving Berlin)
We deviate from our theme of overtures to present this delightful tone poem by James Barnes. He composed it as an oboe solo with wind orchestra accompaniment and dedicated it to Susan Hicks Brashier. It is quite different from most of his music, which is powerful and energetic. The piece begins with a melancholy oboe solo and a one line melody on a horn in the background. The clarinet and bassoon then have a turn with the melody. In the moderato, the other instruments of the ensemble, including the vibraphone and bass clarinet, produce an ethereal, shimmering sound. An oboe cadenza catches one's notice as the swirling chill wind of Autumn. The colors of sound of the woodwinds and brass indicate the changing in the colors of the leaves. There is a last burst of brilliance and excitement before the oboe once again sings in a plaintive cadenza. Recalling the initial theme before retreating, the horns introduce a pyramid of ensemble sounds to bring the piece to a quiet ending.
Commissioned in 2006 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Oregon
Symphonic Band, Beautiful Oregon
provides images of the beauty and excitement of that state. Composer
James Barnes provided the following thoughts about the work:
Few regions of the lower 48 States can boast the scenic beauty of Oregon. As one travels from the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in the Southwest past the Three Sisters and Mount Hood to Portland, turning east through the Dalles, then going on through the Umatilla and Willowa Mountains to Hell's Canyon, one can only admire Oregon as a region of stunning natural beauty. While composing this work for Michael Burch-Pesses and his fine band, I closed my eyes and thought of the fresh, cool air, the countless streams teeming with trout and the gorgeous, snow-capped mountains that seem to go on endlessly. Such rare beauty is uncommon in our world, and I daydreamed that I could be there again.
Eagle BendEagle Bend has the programmatic sound that might convey drifting in a boat in a deep canyon with a scene of majestic and soaring eagles gliding above the cliffs at a bend in that river. James Barnes, the composer, would be pleased with such an image, but he assures us that there is no specific program behind this overture. While many musical pieces are based on stories, places, or moods that the composer wishes to convey, Barnes has said that no special reference was intended with this work. He was just interested in expressing some new musical ideas. As a composer of more than 80 works for concert band, he finds it difficult to think of appropriate titles for all of his music. Two hundred years ago, symphonies and concertos were given numbers and, sometimes, a subtitle developed over time. Eagle Bend seemed like a fitting name for this overture. It and two other of his popular overtures (Alvamar and Twin Oaks) were derived from the names of golf courses in his home town of Lawrence, Kansas. The Heatherwood Portrait came from the name of an apartment complex between his home and the university.
Fantasy Variations, On a Theme by Niccolo Paganini
Niccolo Paganini (1782 - 1840) was one of the greatest virtuoso
violinists of all time; he also was a noted composer. The theme of his Caprice
in A-minor for Violin (Op. 1, No., 24) has been utilized by many
composers, including Liszt, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and Lloyd Weber. Once
again, it forms the basis for this challenging symphonic band
adaptation. Stated at the beginning of the work, the theme undergoes a
score of variations as instrument sections or pairs of soloists are
featured. The tempos and moods range from the delicate adagio of
the English horn to the nimble presto of the flutes. The
contrabass clarinet brings forth a deep misterioso variation.
The brass are well represented with variations for trombone, French
horn, and tuba. The percussion section solos in yet another variation.
It was the mid-1800's when C. L.“Charley'' Barnhouse, an 18 year old self-taught cornet player, left his West Virginia home and joined the band on one of the many small musical comedy roadshows of the day. His travels ended in Iowa where he worked as a machinist and directed bands in a number of Southern Iowa towns. In addition, he composed music for band with aspirations of publishing his own music; in 1886, the C. L. Barnhouse Co. was founded. He began his catalog by writing most of the music himself. From his prolific pen flowed wonderful marches, waltzes, rags, and concert numbers which were very popular with the community bands of the day. Now, Mr. Barnhouse is remembered for the publishing business he founded, but we are fortunate that through the re-publication of several of his best-known marches, the genius of this pioneer in the band business is being rediscovered. In the early years, Barnhouse called his publishing business Harmony Heaven, and later wrote a march by the same name.
Harmony Heaven, March
It was the mid-1800's when C. L. “Charley” Barnhouse, an 18 year old self-taught cornet player, left his West Virginia home and joined the band on one of the many small musical comedy roadshows of the day. His travels ended in Iowa where he worked as a machinist and directed bands in a number of Southern Iowa towns. In addition, he composed music for band with aspirations of publishing his own music; in 1886, the C. L. Barnhouse Co. was founded. He began his catalog by writing most of the music himself. From his prolific pen flowed wonderful marches, waltzes, rigs, and concert numbers which were very popular with the community bands of the day. Now, Mr. Barnhouse is remembered for the publishing business he founded, but we are fortunate that through the re-publication of several of his best-known marches, the genius of this pioneer in the band business is being rediscovered. In the early years, Barnhouse called his publishing business Harmony Heaven, and later wrote this march by the same name.
The Battle of Shiloh, March
Having been born during the last year of the American Civil War, Barnhouse personally knew many of the veterans and surviving family members of that disastrous conflict. The battle of Shiloh, with huge military blunders on both sides, turned out to be the first of the large battles and, by far, the bloodiest of the Civil War. There were over 19,000 casualties from both sides in the two-day battle. The name comes from the Shiloh Church, a meeting house southwest of the community of Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. On Sunday, April 6, 1862, Confederate General A.S. Johnston made a daring, surprise attack, routing the Union troops commanded by the then-unknown Union General Ulysses S. Grant. Johnston's death and the arrival of Union reinforcements under General D.C. Buel forced the retreat of the southern forces.
Béla Bartók was born on March 25, 1881, in Nagyszentmiklos (Great St. Nicholas) in the Hungarian district of Torontal. His mother provided him with his early piano instruction. His precocious musical ability was fostered through more formal instruction. At the age of 10, he made his first public appearance as a composer-pianist. In 1899, he was admitted to the Academy of Music in Budapest. While there, he was greatly influenced by the music of Richard Strauss. After graduating from the Academy, he began a career as a concert pianist. While on a retreat in the Slovakian countryside in 1904, he heard a woman singing Piros alesa (Red Apple) of which he wrote a transcription; this started a lifelong fascination with folk music. Two years later, he was introduced to Zoltán Kodály, who had been collecting folk music on Edison cylinders. The two became close friends and collaborators. Bartók’s stoic and pessimistic nature were evident in his early works and this mood slowed the acceptance of his compositions. His fairy-tale ballets The Wooden Prince (1917) and The Miraculous Mandarin (1926) were well received. A political dissident of the fascist regime in Hungary, Bartók reluctantly moved his family to New York in 1940. Although naturalized in 1945, Bartók thought his move more of an exile than an emigration. To ease financial burdens, some of which were brought on by a bout with leukemia, Bartók wrote his popular Concerto for Orchestra in 1943 under commission to conductor Serge Koussovitzky. Bartók died in a New York hospital in September 1945.
Nocturnes are 19th-century instrumental pieces, usually for piano, intended for performance at evening concerts. Often quiet and reflective, they can contain sections that are agitated or loud. Bartók’s Nocturne, subtitled Evening in the Countryside, fits this format. The slow introduction is followed by a scherzando section reminiscent of oriental music. The opening tempo and theme returns, but it is interrupted by a more ornamented version of the scherzando. The origins of this work aren’t clear. It is possible that it is one of the composer’s Microkosmos, a six-volume collection of graded piano pieces which he wrote for his son Peter’s music lessons.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827) was born in Bonn, German, the son of a court musician who taught his son the rudiments of music. The son’s gift for music was quickly exploited for financial gain. Ludwig gave his first public performance at the age of 7 1/2 and composed his first work before the age of 12. In 1792, he was sent to Vienna to be tutored by Haydn. Three years later, three piano trios by Beethoven were published and his fame grew rapidly. In but three years more, Beethoven realized that he was growing deaf, beginning his struggle with this disability and its hindrance to his creativity. He composed concertos and sonatas and even choral works, but his symphonies are the most recognized. It is said that 20,000 people attended his funeral.
Finale from Symphony No. 1 in C
The timing may have been unintentional, but it was appropriate that the First Symphony should make its debut in 1800; it was a new century and, in the aftermath of the French Revolution, the beginnings of a new social order throughout Europe. The excitement, optimism, new-found confidence and turmoil are all mirrored in the Beethoven's symphonies. Although the First Symphony nods quite plainly in the direction of Mozart and Haydn in its opening movements, the Finale, performed here, hesitates slightly in the opening bars and then bursts forth with exuberance and bubbling high spirits.
Overture to Egmont
The 1787 play by Goethe relates the fight of Flemish Count Egmont (1522-1568) against the despotic Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Albe, a Spanish general and the governor of the Netherlands. Egmont protested against the tyranny of the Spanish rulers and called for a revolution. Threatened with imprisonment, Egmont refused to take refuge in a foreign land. The play ends with his execution, but not before he makes a last call for a fight for independence. It was Egmont’s martyrdom that served as a victory over oppression. In 1809, the Burgtheater of Vienna asked Beethoven to compose incidental music for a revival of the play. An admirer of Goethe, Beethoven readily accepted the commission and completed it in June 1810. Beginning with dark tonality and setting a tragic atmosphere, the Overture to Egmont summarizes the action of the play. A frantic theme develops into a storm of turmoil. The clarinet becomes a sole voice calling for independence. The struggle resumes until a hush symbolizes Egmont’s death. Beethoven then builds a triumphant fanfare honoring this valiant stand against oppression.
Born in Racine, Wisconsin, the ninth of ten children of an Italian immigrant couple, Frank Bencriscutto (1928 - 1997) began formal music lessons on the saxophone at the age of ten. Within two years, he was playing professionally in the jazz field -- later the means of financial resources for his entire university education. Advanced study was taken at the University of Wisconsin, Northwestern University, and the Eastman School of Music, where he received a M.M.A. degree in 1960. That same year, he became director of bands at the University of Minnesota. He believed that the destiny of music education is to teach man to love music, not merely as an amusement, but for its ennobling energy, for its power to make man better by arousing in him a perception of that which is good, just, and beautiful.
Serenade for Solo Alto Saxophone and Band
The composer offered the following program note: “This composition seeks to reveal the melodic beauty of the alto saxophone along with its technical agility. Rather than employing the band as a simple accompanying unit, the composition integrates the solo and band more in the traditional manner of the sonata; that is, the band shares principal thematic material with the solo part, with colorful use of percussion and solo woodwind voices.”
David D. Bennett’s band compositions and arrangements are widely respected because of their sound musicianship and quality that comes from a thorough understanding of the performance problems musicians and directors encounter. Bennett was born in Ida Grove, Iowa, in 1892. He began his musical career as a pianist for a vaudeville house in Sioux City, Iowa. Traveling on New York’s Orpheum circuit, playing in the orchestra for acts and singers in packed theaters each week, gave him a wealth of experience in musical repertoire. During this time, he added mastery of the clarinet and trumpet to his skills as a pianist. In 1919, Bennett moved to Chicago, where he attended the Chicago College of Music and played for radio stations, hotels, and nightclubs. He is best known for his Bye, Bye, Blues composed in 1925 for a tap dance troupe, which was published by Irving Berlin. He wrote many original band compositions in addition to arrangements of classical works. His solos and concertos for clarinets, saxophones, flutes, piano, and harp are widely respected. In 1929, he was named a life member of the American Bandmasters Association. A resident of the Clarendon Hills suburb of Chicago since 1939, Bennett kept musically active in his later years regularly playing piano for the St. Charles Noon Rotary, the Salvation Army’s Golden Diners luncheon, and social occasions. In 1990, at the age of 97, he died at the home of his grandson.
The Bass Clarinet often has important solo passages in musical compositions, because of its range and tonal quality. It is unusual for this woodwind to be featured as the principal instrument. Composer and arranger David Bennett has provided a delightful concerto. Written in 1962, Basswood uses the interplay between the wind ensemble and the soloist to showcase the virtuosity of the soloist, who is called upon to demonstrate the multi-octave and tonal range of the instrument. Slow, melodic passages are alternated with rapid, technical runs.
Robert Russell Bennett (1894 - 1981) was born in Kansas City, Kansas. At the age of 4, he contracted polio and his parents moved to a farm in Missouri, where he was home schooled by his musically talented parents. He started his harmony and counterpoint studies at the age of 15. Seven years later, he was leading army bands, arranging, and composing in New York. In 1926, he began a period of European study, which included four years work with Nadia Boulanger, this century's most influential music teacher. Returning to New York, he orchestrated many Broadway musicals, including Kern’s “Showboat,” Gershwin’s “Of Thee I Sing,” Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate,” and Youmans’ “No No Nanette.” His greatest success came when he collaborated with Richard Rodgers and orchestrated “Oklahoma,” “Carousel,” “The Sound of Music,” “The King and I,” and “South Pacific.” He also orchestrated Lowe’s “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot.” He never lost sight of his training and appreciation for “serious” music and he took time to compose four symphonies, a symphonic portrait of Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” and the “Ohio River Suite.” In 1952, he composed 13 hours of music for the popular television series “Victory at Sea.” His Suite of Old American Dances and Symphonic Songs for Band are hallmarks in the symphonic band repertoire. An avid baseball fan, he often amazed his friends with his recall of baseball statistics.
Autobiography, Part Two
IV. 1916: MO to NY - To Broadway! What was I waiting for? My country came up with the answer: War.
V. 1919: The Merrill Miracle - She and I danced to far different themes, but counterpoint seems to take care of our dreams. The ghost of old Johann Sebastian beams!
VI. 1926: A Parisian in Paris - Sometimes the French was a little bit broken, but English chez nous she was not often spoken.
VII. 1935: What Was The Question? - Man's ages are seven, but I must admit that I tried them all on and none of them fit. So Mister Shakespeare, this is it!
The dates and parenthetical notes provided for each movement of Bennett's Autobiography give the listener an insight into the important events of his life. He provided the following comment on his last of a two-part composition:
“The three of my seven ages in Part One took us to the legal end of my youth. Gathering up my unspectacular belongings, including my entire fortune of less than two hundred dollars, I swooped down on New York for no more reason than that it was New York and had a street in it called Broadway. The music borrows two or three rhythms from the era, but the only note-for-note quote is what the bugler at Camp Funston played every morning while we put on our shoes. Later, when we get to Paris, some of the cute old French tunes that everybody knows come tripping by. This is the full extent of actual musical quotes, at least conscious ones.”
Bennett's close friendship and collaboration with the great Broadway musical composers led him to compose the Four Preludes as a tribute to four of them. Using the same tune, Bennett has added a coda - a final ending - to each movement, written in the style of each friend. George Gershwin (Of Thee I Sing) is the first to be so honored through an angular melody set over insistent eighth notes. With a light swing feel, a jazzy theme honors Vincent Youmans (No No Nanette). Cole Porter (Kiss Me Kate) begins with a reflective, warm English horn solo followed by a melancholy trumpet and then the full band. The final movement, saluting Jerome Kern (Showboat), features a splashy tarantella led by the clarinets up to a boisterous finale.
Suite of Old American Dances
Leading off the suite, the Cake Walk is a strutting dance based on a march rhythm, often performed at minstrel shows; it originated as a competition among Black dancers to win a cake. The Schottische is a Scotch round dance in 2/4 time, similar to the polka, only slower. The third movement, Western One-Step, recalls a variant of an early ballroom dance that was a precursor to the foxtrot. The triple meter of the Wallflower Waltz, will be familiar to most. The bright and highly syncopated rhythm of the Rag completes the dance suite.
Symphonic Songs for Band
A three-movement suite, the Symphonic Songs for Band was composed in 1958 on a commission from the national band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi, and was premiered at the national convention in Salt Lake City. In the composer’s words:
Symphonic Songs are as much a suite of dances or scenes as songs, deriving their name from the tendency of the principal parts to sing out a fairly diatonic tune against whatever rhythm develops in the middle instruments. The Serenade has the feeling of strumming, from which the title is obtained, otherwise it bears little resemblance to the serenades of Mozart. The Spiritual may possibly strike the listener as being unsophisticated enough to justify its title, but in performance this movement sounds far simpler than it really is. The Celebration recalls an old-time county fair in cheering throngs (in the woodwinds), a circus act or two, and the inevitable mule race.
William Bergsma was born in Oakland, California, on April 1, 1921. His mother taught him to play the piano and viola. At the age of 16, Bergsma’s interest in composition was focused with lessons he received from Howard Hanson. In that year, Bergsma completed his first ballet, Paul Bunyon, which received more than 25 performances at his Burlingame (CA) high school. He studied at Stanford University before transferring to the Eastman School of Music, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music (1942 & 1943) under the tutelage of Howard Hanson and Bernard Rodgers. For twenty years, beginning in 1946, Bergsma served in a variety of roles on the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music, including chairman of the composition department. From 1963 to 1971, he served as the chair of the School of Music at the University of Washington and remained as a professor until 1986. He continued composing until his death in Seattle, Washington, in 1994. He received numerous awards including Guggenheim Fellowships (1946 & 1951). Commissioned by many leading orchestras and musical associations, Bergsma composed more than 55 works for small instrumental ensembles or orchestra, along with choral pieces and two operas.
March with Trumpets
William Bergsma’s only composition for band begins with a bright trumpet and percussion fanfare. The woodwinds have a turn, echoing the introductory melody. Next, a discordant theme performed by the clarinets is an example of Bergsma’s musical inventiveness and variation from the compositional style of the time. This transitions into a flowing melody that illustrates the influence of Howard Hanson, Bergsma’s first composition teacher. The trumpet fanfares and flourishes return and blend once more into the cantabile theme. This concert march concludes in a grand and punctuated manner. March with Trumpets was written in 1957 and was the first in a series of commissions Richard Franko Goldman would sponsor in memory of his famous bandmaster and composer father, Edwin Franko Goldman.
Hector Louis Berlioz (1803 - 1869) was the son of a provincial French doctor, with a practice near Grenoble. His father enrolled him in a Paris medical school in 1821, but after only one year his love of music grew so strong that he enrolled in the Paris Conservatoire. His early attempts at composition were not well received, having rebelled against the rigorous methods of his teachers, and he had to support himself as a chorus singer at a vaudeville theater. On his fourth attempt, he won the Prix de Rome for his Sardanapale. He finally gained fame and some financial security with his Symphonie Fantastique, considered autobiographic and finished during the revolution of 1830, and his Harold en Italie, which grew out of a work written for the violinist Paganini, but spurned by him as lacking difficulty. Berated by his contemporaries Bizet, Debussy, and Ravel, Berlioz found support during his tours of Germany, Russia, and England, eventually gaining the recognition and appreciation of a great composer. His Treatise on Instrumentation became popular as a textbook.
Hungarian March Rákóczy
The Marche Hongroise is based on a folk tune that dates from the time of Ferencz Rákóczy II (1676-1735), a Hungarian national hero for whom this march is named. The march was popularized by Rákóczy's army and was later reset, by János Bihari around 1809, into a march used by the Hungarian regiment as they went into battle against Napoleon. In 1846, Berlioz was preparing for a concert tour in Hungary; it was a time during which the Hungarian independence movement was growing ever more volatile. He was advised to include a Hungarian tune in his repertoire and he scored his own setting of the Rákóczy March, which premiered in Budapest. In his autobiography, Berlioz wrote: “When the day came my throat tightened, as it did in time of great perturbation. First the trumpets give out the rhythm, then the flutes and clarinets softly outlining the theme, with a pizzacato accompaniment of the strings, the audience remaining calm and judicial. Then, as there came a long crescendo, broken by dull beats of the bass drum, like the sound of distant cannon, a strange restless movement was to be heard among the people; and as the orchestra let itself go in a cataclysm of sweeping fury and thunder, they could contain themselves no longer, their overcharged souls burst forth with a tremendous explosion of feeling that raised my hair with terror. I lost all hope of making the end audible, and in the encore it was no better; hardly could they contain themselves long enough to hear a portion of the coda.'' Berlioz later inserted the march into his opera La damnation de Faust, it is believed, to gain more acceptance for the oratorio. He had to take liberties with the original Faust legend, to divert Faust to a Hungarian plain, where a band was playing the Rákóczy March.
March to the Scaffold from “Symphonic Fantastique”
The fourth of five movements of the Symphonie Fantastique tells the story of a young musician, of morbid sensibility and ardent imagination, who dreams under the effects of an opium overdose in an abortive suicide attempt. He dreams that he has murdered his beloved and that he is being led to his execution. The procession advances to the tones of a march which is at once somber and wild, then brilliant and solemn, in which the dull sound of the tread of heavy feet follows without transition. For a moment, his thoughts of his beloved return, only to be cut short by the death blow.
The son of a Russian immigrant, Leonard Bernstein (1918 - 1990), began life in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He studied composition at Harvard, where he first met Aaron Copland. Their friendship was cemented in the early 1940's in the workshops at Tanglewood. Bernstein achieved instant conducting fame when, at the age of twenty-five, with sixteen hours notice, he conducted a broadcast of the New York Philharmonic Symphony after the scheduled guest conductor, Bruno Walter, became suddenly ill. It was his fate to be far more than routinely successful. His vast talents, charming personality, and mastery of semantics succeeded where many have failed in communicating to others his own intense enthusiasm for and love of music. Bernstein wrote symphonies, ballets, an opera, a film score, works for violin and chorus with orchestra, four Broadway musicals, and several smaller works for solo and chamber music groups. He divided his affections between traditional classical music and the jazz and Tin Pan Alley sound of popular America. Bernstein incorporated the element of jazz in many of his compositions, including his Mass and the score to West Side Story. Other notable works are Candide, Fancy Free, and Chichester Psalms. William Schumann said of Bernstein: “He is an authentic American hero, a new breed of hero, an arts hero, showing that America does honor her artists.” In 1990, the musical world lost both Bernstein and his teacher and friend, Aaron Copland.
A Bernstein Tribute
In a musical bouquet to one of the legends of our time, Clare Grundman has captured the spirit of each work in his adaptation which includes excerpts from some of Leonard Bernstein's Broadway musicals. The work begins with the Prologue, Somewhere, Scherzo, and Mambo from “West Side Story”. The music of “On the Town” continues with three dance episodes: The Great Lover, Times Square 1944, and Lonely Town. The energetic music from the “Overture to Candide” completes the tribute.
The ballet “Fancy Free” was commissioned by the American Ballet Theater and was premiered in 1944. Leonard Bernstein wrote the music in collaboration with the talented choreographer Jerome Robbins. The ballet tells a story of young Americans caught in the turmoil of World War II and their determination to cram a lifetime of adventure and romance into a moment. Three sailors are on shore leave in New York City where they meet, fight over, and lose a succession of girls. In an effort to impress the young women, the sailors perform solo dances, each representing their individual personalities, hoping to make the best impression. The first sailor dances a good-natured galop, the second a wistful waltz, and the third sailor’s dance, Danzon, has an intense and passionate Latin touch.
Divertimento for Symphonic Band
I. Sennets and Tuckets
V. Turkey Trot
VIII. March, “The BSO Forever”
Leonard Bernstein's Divertimento is an expression of his love affair with the city of his youth and its symphony orchestra, for whose centennial celebration in 1980 it was written. It is a nostalgic album filled with affectionate memories of growing up in Boston, as well as a recollection of hearing live symphonic music for the first time in Symphony Hall, under the direction of Arthur Fiedler (which may account for some of the lighthearted nature of this work). It is a series of vignettes based on two notes: B, for “Boston,” and C, for “Centennial.” Most of these generate brief dances of varying character, from wistful to swaggering. Sennets and Tuckets (trumpet calls and flourishes signaling the ceremonial entrances and exits of Elizabethan actors) was originally to have been the entire composition, but an abundance of fun-filled transformations of the B-C motive suggested themselves to the composer for addition. The work is filled with allusions to the repertoire that Bernstein grew up with in Symphony Hall. Some are quite obvious; others are secrets to be shared with the conductors and orchestra members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Overture to Candide
Candide was Leonard Bernstein's third Broadway musical, following On the Town and Wonderful Town. It opened in New York in 1956, but, unlike its predecessors, was not a commercial success. Adapted by Lillian Hellman from Voltaire's 18th-century satire on blind optimism, the story concerns a young man, Candide, who has been led by his tutor, Dr. Pangloss, to believe that everything is for the best “in this best of all possible worlds.” Taking with him his sweetheart, Conegonde, and Pangloss, Candide journeys to Lisbon, Paris, Buenos Aires, and even the legendary El Dorado, only to discover reality in the forms of crime, atrocity, and suffering. He returns to Venice with Conegonde, stripped of his idealism. His ultimate emotional maturation concludes in the finale with “And let us try before we die/To make some sense of life./We're neither pure nor wise nor good;/We'll do the best we know.” The sparkling overture captures the frenetic activity of the operetta, with its twists and turns, along with Candide's simple honesty.
Profanation from “Jeremiah, Symphony No. 1”
Bernstein’s first symphony was his entry into a competition sponsored by the New England Conservatory. Although it didn’t win the competition, the work greatly impressed Fritz Reiner, Bernstein’s conducting teacher at Curtis, who agreed to premier it with the Boston Philharmonic. Composing in 1942, a year before his conducting debut, Bernstein was struck by the terrible fate that was then descending upon the Jews in Europe. He expanded on his already written Hebrew Song retitling it as the finale, Lamentation. The preceding movements were titled Prophesy and Profanation. The three movements correspond to the story of the prophet Jeremiah of the Book of Lamentations. Bernstein did not intend the work to be programmatic, but rather to create an “emotional quality.” The scherzo second movement, Profanation, was written to give a general sense of the destruction and chaos brought on by the pagan corruption within the priesthood and the people.
Slava! A Concert Overture
The first theme of Slava! is a vaudevillian razz-ma-tazz tune filled with side-slipping modulations and sliding trombones. Theme two is a canonic tune in 7/8 time. A very brief kind of development section follows, after which the two themes recur in reverse order. Near the end, they are combined with a quotation (proclaimed by the ubiquitous trombones) from the Coronation Scene of Moussorgsky's “Boris Goudonov”, where the chorus sings the Russian word slava! meaning glory! In this way, of course, the composer is paying an extra four-bar homage to his friend Mistislav “Slava” Rostropovich, to whom the overture is fondly dedicated.
Symphonic Dance Music from “West Side Story”
Leonard Bernstein's music to “West Side Story” brought a new dimension to Shakespeare's classic love story of Romeo and Juliet and the underlying dynamics of social and racial strife.. Arranger Ian Polster has captured Bernstein's wonderful dance rhythms that are integral to the production. The Scherzo is the first of four movements; it displays a characteristic lively and animated rhythm in triple time interspersed with soft, almost tentative, rhythms of changing meter. The transition into the Mambo is abrupt and dominated by the percussion and brass. The third movement, Cha-cha, is soft and graceful, in contrast to what has preceded it. The Fugue is built upon a swing-style “bop'' rhythm that underscores the conflict between the Sharks and the Jets. The fast figures are answered by long, tense chords.
Jerry H. Bilik was born on October 7, 1933, in New Rochelle, New York. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan (1955, BM, Music Education; 1961, MM, Composition) where he rose from the position of 17th chair trombone of the Marching Band to become their chief composer and arranger (1955 - 1958). He has taught at his alma mater and at Wayne State University. He has arranged music for several television series, including Starsky and Hutch and Charlie’s Angels, and the movies Real Life and Best Man. Bilik has been a member of the creative team for every Disney On Ice and Disney Live! production since their inception; he currently serves as vice president of creative development for Disney on Ice. He the recipient of the Annual Composers’ Award from ASCAP. ASCAP lists over 250 of his compositions and arrangements. Bilik now resides in Cabin John, Maryland.
American Civil War FantasyJerry Bilik composed the American Civil War Fantasy in 1961 for a half time show presented by the University of Michigan Marching Band under the direction of William Revelli. The production concluded with the unrolling of an American flag that covered the entire football field. While that field show has never been equalled, the music remains a classic of the symphonic band repertoire. The program notes provided with the music describe the significance of the tunes that depict the mood of our country before, during, and after the War Between the States:
After a brief introduction using the main themes in fragments, we try to picture musically the mood of the United States just before the Civil War. We hear popular tunes of the mid-Nineteenth Century, Listen to the Mocking Bird, Dixieland (which was then a popular minstrel song), and De Camptown Races. From the distance comes the sound of drums and the strain of John Brown’s Body, announcing the first signs of the coming conflict. Little whispers of Dixie and The Battle Cry of Freedom become intermingled, and then we hear the brilliant strains of the South’s rallying song, Maryland, My Maryland (“Oh Tannenbaum”). This gives way to the Union Hymn Marching Home as young Americans from both North and South were called from their homes to fight one another. Here the music becomes meditative, gradually dying out, as the soldier recalls many songs of his day, weaving through the sentimental melody Just Before the Battle Mother.
The reverie is soon broken by the thunder of drums as we picture first the Northern armies on the move, Marching Through Georgia, then the Southern troops and The Yellow Rose of Texas. With fragments of their favorite songs ringing in their ears, the two armies come closer and closer, the music building in intensity. Finally, in a shattering explosion, the war is on!
The war is a fleeting instant in the stream of history, and its noisy tumult soon dies away, giving birth to The Battle Hymn of the Republic. A Republic restored but not proud of its costly victory. Slowly the music builds in grandeur, representing the spiritual hope for a peaceful and prosperous United States of America that eventually becomes a reality, as the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln became a symbol of dedication for all Americans; that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.“
A native of New York, Nancy Bloomer Deussen (b. 1931) attended Juilliard School of Music for two years and is a graduate of The Manhattan School of Music. She also holds a second bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California (USC) School of Music with a major in Music Education. She has had extensive graduate work at USC School of Music, San Jose State University, University of California at Los Angeles, and Long Beach State University. Her teachers of composition were Vittorio Giannini, Ingolf Dahl, Lukas Foss and Wilson Coker. Now residing in Palo Alto, California, Bloomer Deussen is an associate faculty member of the music department at Mission College in Santa Clara, where she directs the chorus and teaches piano and music theory. She has composed for band, chorus, orchestra, chamber groups, and flute, clarinet, and violin solos. She has won or been a runner up in a number of national composition competitions.
Nancy Bloomer Deussen's Home Page: http://www.nancybloomerdeussen.com/
Reflections On The Hudson
Reflections On The Hudson is one of Ms. Bloomer Deussen’s environmental compositions inspired by the beauty of nature. Subtitled “An American Poem”, it was written when the composer lived in New York City, while she sat on a park bench overlooking the Hudson River in Manhattan. She tells that it depicts both internal reflections as well as actual reflections in the water. While it has no specific program, its meaning can be found in the feelings it produces in the listener. The steady flow of the river, conveyed by the music, is punctuated with the daily boat traffic. Mid-day activity, including ships’ whistles, gives way to the calm flow of the evening. Meter changes and measure lengths convey the sense of interplay of the river’s currents. Originally scored in 1993 for orchestra and premiered by the Nova Vista Symphony of Los Altos, California, it has been transcribed for concert band by Virginia Allen, the first woman to command and conduct an active duty military band that included women. The Foothill Symphonic Winds performed her Women of the Podium March in 2001. The transcription is dedicated to the Bicentennial of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
The Voyage of Christopher Columbus
This tone poem depicts the historic voyage of Christopher Columbus’ fleet to find a westward route to India. His first landfall on October 11, 1492, was not in Asia, but in the Bahamas. His further sailings to Cuba and Hispaniola brought sovereignty rights to Spain that would exceed the riches of India. The journey from Spain begins with the rising wind, a filling of the sails, and the sounds of birds. The composition continues with the uncertainties of the currents and the search for the westward trade winds. A trumpet proclaims the voyage’s optimism. After a month at sea, land is sighted to stirring and triumphant conclusion. This composition is dedicated to Vernon Taranto and the Baton Rouge Concert Band.
Jerrold Lewis Bock was born November 23, 1928, in New Haven, Connecticut and grew up in Flushing, New York. He wrote scores for musicals in high school and teamed up with lyricist Larry Holofcener at the University of Wisconsin, winning an annual musical competition sponsored by BMI. The pair worked on revues at summer camps in the Poconos and for television, eventually moving to New York where they provided the score for “Mr. Wonderful” starring Sammy Davis Jr. Two years later, Bock’s teaming with lyricist Sheldon Harnick would prove significant. Although their first effort, “The Body Beautiful,” closed in just a few weeks, it caught the attention of George Abbott and Harold Prince, that lead to the creation of “Fiorello!,” the 1959 musical about the reformist mayor of New York City. Their collaboration continued on several more musicals, but their greatest hit was “Fiddler on the Roof” opening in 1964 that set a long standing Broadway record of over 3,200 performances. The Bock-Harnick team was adept at writing music that reflected both time and circumstance. At the age of 81, Bock died from heart failure on November 3, 2010, just 10 days after the death of Joseph Stein, playwright of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Symphonic Dances from “Fiddler on the Roof”
The 1964 musical “Fiddler on the Roof” was a blockbuster, breaking many Broadway records at the time. The script, adapted by Joseph Stein from the stories of Sholom Aleichem, was a musical portrait of Eastern European Orthodox Jews in the village of Anatevka experiencing pograms and the threat of expulsion by the Russian czar. It centers around the struggles of a poor Jewish milkman, Tevye, with five daughters, where life is as precarious as the perch of a fiddler on the roof. Tradition is what gives them strength against adversity. Tevye is tested when he needs to break the arranged match made between the butcher and Tevye’s eldest daughter, Tzeitel, who loves Motel, a struggling tailor. The Wedding Dance #1 (Bottle Dance) marks the celebration of Motel and Tzeitel’s wedding. Defiance to the prohibition against opposite sexes dancing together occurs in the Perchik and Hodel Dance, when the student dances with Tevye’s second daughter, Hodel. The czar’s forces perform a “demonstration” and wreck the wedding party. Months later, Perchik must leave for Kiev to work for the revolution. He proposes to Hodel, saying he will send for her. Tevye protests that making their own match breaks tradition and he forbids it. He is informed that the youngsters only want his blessing, not his permission. Time passes and middle daughter, Chava, asks for permission to marry Fyedka, a Russian boy. Marriage outside of the Jewish faith is a tradition Teyve cannot break. He eventually loses her as the young couple elope. The loss of his daughters to the men they love is conveyed in a dance of the Chava Sequence. The story ends on a sad note that the Jews must leave Anatevka and Teyve, his wife, Golde, and their two youngest daughters pack what they can carry and leave for America. The music recalls a happier time with the dance To Life.
Initially trained as an orchestra double bass player, Carolyn Bremer’s
interest in music composition didn’t develop until she was 24. She
studied at the Eastman School of Music and CalArts, before receiving her
Ph.D. in composition from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Her teachers include Edward Applebaum, Mel Powell, Joseph Schwantner,
Emma Lou Diemer, and Buell Neidlinger. Bremer was Chair of Composition
at the University of Oklahoma from 1991 to 2000, where she directed the
New Century Ensemble and the New Improv! Century Ensemble. She composes
in a wide variety of genres from electronic to music for chamber groups,
band and orchestra. Currently, Bremer is Professor and Area Director of
Composition and Theory at California State University Long Beach. She
came to regard the questions raised in issue-oriented, experimental and
political music, and aesthetics as central to her work as a composer,
conductor, and educator. Her catalogue contains works based on the
Clarence Thomas Confirmation Hearings (I Have a Nightmare), an
AIDS-related death of a childhood friend (Not a Witness),
feminism (She Who), feminist symbolism (The Four Faces of Eve),
and The Theory of Evolution. Principal compositions for large
ensembles include Early Light
(1995 & 1996), Spark
(2001), Symphony for Wind Band
(2002), and Pieces of Eight
Early Light was written for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and received its premier performance in July 1995. The material is largely derived from The Star Spangled Banner. One need not attribute an excess of patriotic fervor in the composer as a source for this optimistic homage to our national anthem; Carolyn Bremer, a passionate baseball fan since childhood, drew upon her feelings of happy anticipation at hearing the anthem played before ball games when writing her piece. The slapstick heard near the end echoes the crack of the bat on a long home run.
Eric Brinkmann, a senior at Palo Alto High School (CA), has been involved in music for nearly all of his life. His musical education includes piano, bassoon, and saxophone lessons. He played bassoon in the El Camino Youth Symphony from 1994-7, and in a chamber ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory of music since 1997. He has played in the Foothill Symphonic Wind Ensemble since 1996. He has played the Baritone Saxophone chair in the California All-State Jazz Band for the last two years. Last summer, he also played baritone saxophone in the Monterey Jazz Festival. He will be attending Princeton University in the Fall and expects to continue performing and composing.
Suite for Band, I. Prelude
The composer provides the following insight into his composition, which was composed in 1998 as a senior project in high school and is the first movement to be completed in his Suite for Band:
The Prelude is a simple, compact form based on two motives: the first tuba melody composed of fourths, and the choral-like theme heard in the horns. The first melancholy section leads into a brighter allegretto with the choral theme in dissonant clusters. It undergoes various permutations, until a climax is reached with a march-like rendering of the theme. The music quickly subsides, and the tempo slows while the clarinets reminisce quietly about the first melody in the tuba. The piece ends calmly on a note of uncertainty.
Lord Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976) was an outstanding British musician of his generation, contributing as a creator, interpreter, and performer. A brilliant pianist and conductor, his supreme gift was in composition; he was a hardworking and thorough professional and proud of the fact. Britten began composing at the age of six, while also studying the piano and viola. At the age of 11, he began formal studies with composer Frank Bridge. From 1930 - 1933, Britten studied unhappily at the Royal College of Music, composing Sinfonietta and other works. A trip to the united States from 1939 to 1942 produced his first opera Paul Bunyan. His Peter Grimes (1945) revitalized British opera, but his The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1946) and other works for children, either as listeners or performers, are most memorable to the public.
Paul Bunyan Overture
The operetta Paul Bunyan was Benjamin Britten’s first work for musical theater. It was written during a two-year visit to the United States by Britten and his companion, tenor Peter Pears. It was conceived as a work for young singers and players to perform. With just a few starring roles, it included many small parts. The actor portraying Paul Bunyan is never seen and he has only a spoken part. Paul Bunyan is the legendary lumberman; a folk hero who was bigger than life. The narrative ballad includes prototypical characters: a man of brawn but no brains, a charmer who marries the boss’s daughter, and a man of academic intelligence. The underlying theme is the development of America from virgin forest to civilization. Bold fanfares announce Bunyan’s progress. Light woodwind figures represent the flowing river, fleet animals, and joy of accomplishment. The flurry of industry concludes the work. The overture was dropped at the premier. Existing as only a piano score, Britten’s manuscript copier, Colin Matthews, completed the orchestration in 1970.
The Courtly Dances
In 1952, a year away from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II,
Benjamin Britten was given royal approval to create a national opera to
be called “Gloriana.” The opera was based on Lytton Strachey’s book Elizabeth and Essex and
tells the story of Elizabeth I and her relationship with Lord Essex. The
opera did not win favor with the audiences nor with Queen Elizabeth II,
who did not appreciate the amorous nature of the story. The Courtly
Dances, which appear in Act II in a ball given by the Queen, have
remained popular reflections of Elizabethan times. The March
introduces this composition, providing the basic repetitive rhythm for a
parade of dancers around the great hall. Rapid embellishments to the
military march add elegance to the simple beat. The Coranto is
danced by traversing and running with rising and leaping. The tempo
slows with the graceful and flowing Galliard set in 3/4 time.
The pace quickens with the vigorous Lavolta, in which the ladies
are tossed into the air by their partners. The energy is so intense that
the Queen in “Gloriana” commands afterwards: ‘Ladies, go change thy
linen!’ Britten’s music concludes with a reprise of the March theme.
Arranger Barbara Buehlman received her BME (1959) and MME (1960) degrees from Northwestern University. After graduation, she taught in the Round Lake, Illinois, schools until 1983, when she became an administrator of the Mid-West National Band and Orchestra Clinic. She was active with the Northshore Concert band, serving as its Business Manager from 1962 until her death in 1997. She was a co-author of the “Band Plus” Method Books with James Swearingen.
see Ave Maria
Stephen Bulla (1953 - ) received his musical instruction, beginning at the age of 6, from a father who played tuba and a mother who played piano. He played euphonium until the 11th grade when he switched to his musical love, the trombone. In 1976, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied trombone, composition, and arranging. Attracted to the commercial music field, he arranged, composed, and recorded with famous vocalists and instrumentalists. In 1980, Bulla was appointed Staff Arranger to the U.S. Marine Band and White House Orchestra. His distinguished career of 30 years produced many scores for a wide range of musical events. He collaborated with composer John Williams in transcriptions of the latter’s movie scores for performances by the Marine Band. Bulla is a member of ASCAP and has received many of its awards. The ASCAP database lists 293 or his compositions and arrangements. Bulla was chosen to complete the score of the Library of Congress March from manuscript fragments of Sousa’s last work. Bulla founded and performs with the jazz trombone group Bad to the Bone.
The cartoon namesake of the movie “The Pink Panther” opens this medley of recognizable Mancini themes from film and television. Our thoughts of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau turn to the romantic with Moon River from the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” A humorous and frustrating episode from “Hitari” is brought to mind by Baby Elephant Walk. The relaxing melody of “Dreamsville” represents the quiet and romantic side of the television series private investigator, Peter Gunn, whose strong persona is represented by the series’ theme song.
Rhapsody For Hanukkah
Composer Stephen Bulla has subtitled this work Festival of Lights, a reference to the eight-day festival of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of rededication. The solemn opening by a solo flute quickly leads into a festive children’s song Y’ Ladim. The melody of Ney Li continues the children’s participation announcing “I have a candle.” The tempo picks up slowly with Simoo Semen transitioning into a bright and joyous Hanukkah Begins Tonight. The Dreidel Song describes the making of a four-sided spinning top that’s played in a simple game of chance. Legend has it that ancient Torah scholars would pretend to gamble with the dreidel, after hiding their scrolls, to misdirect their enemies as their reason to be gathering. Abraham Goldfaden’s Raisins and Almonds has assumed the status of a folk song, but it was part of his operetta “Shulamis” with a mother singing a lullaby to her son promising that those wonderful treats would be his reward. The story is an allegory of the Jewish people’s longing to return to their homeland. Changing pace, the Eight Days of Hanukkah is set to the joyous modern tune of Those Were The Days.
Frank Sinatra is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. He began his musical career in the swing era as a singer with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey. Sinatra’s association with Capital Records in 1943 launched his career as a solo artist. His fans ranged from “bobby soxers” to senior citizens. Stephen Bulla’s arrangement Sinatra! provides us with just four of his many popular tunes. Come Fly With Me, by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, was the cover tune for a 1958 album that took listeners on a musical trip around the world (Capri, Vermont, New York, Mandalay, Paris, London, Brazil, and Hawaii). Cy Coleman composed Witchcraft as an instrumental piece for the review “Take Five.” Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh were added for Sinatra’s recording in 1957. Another album title song, That’s Life by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon, became a top five hit in 1966 is the era of post-Beatles rock music. Bart Howard’s 1954 Fly Me to the Moon became synonymous with NASA’s space program with Sinatra’s 1964 recording. It was played on the Apollo 10 mission, as it orbited the Moon and again, on Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s cassette player after he stepped onto the Moon.
Raymond David Burkhart (b. 1961) is a veteran of the Los Angeles music scene as a noted trumpeter, composer, conductor, and educator. Burkhart graduated from Occidental College, earned a master’s degree at the University of Southern California and is currently pursuing a DMA in conducting at Claremont Graduate University. He is on the music faculty at Claremont Graduate University and Pomona College. Composing for orchestra, band, choir, big band, and chamber ensembles, he has over 80 works in publication. He has received ten consecutive Special Awards from ASCAP. Serving as principal trumpet with the Warner Bros. Symphony Orchestra, Burkhart has many film music credits. He has toured as featured soloist with Yanni and is also much in demand as a specialist on the natural trumpet.
Rejoice! is a transcription for concert band of a festive and jubilant work of the same title originally composed as a wedding recessional scored for brass sextet and organ. The revision for band was commissioned in 2003 by the Otterbein College Band. Introductory and closing trumpet fanfares are accompanied by bell tones, quite fitting for this private liberal arts college near Columbus, Ohio, founded in 1847 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The composer has dedicated Rejoice! to Thomas Frederick Townsend, a lifelong friend from childhood, to honor him and their lasting friendship.
Australian Greg Butcher was born in Melbourne into a musical family in 1962. When he was 15, he began brass and percussion studies and performed a number of xylophone solos on ABC radio with his father’s community bands. Joining the Royal Australian Air Force Air Command Band, Sydney, at the age of 19, he began 20 years of service performing on trombone, euphonium, tuba, and percussion. He started composing and arranging while a member of that band. Compositions have included works for band, orchestra, small ensembles, and solo brass pieces. Land of Perpetual Ice was chosen as an Australian National Concert Band Championship Test Piece. He received a Bachelor of Arts (Music) degree from the University of New England. Butcher is a Represented Australian Composer of the Australian Music Centre, Sydney, and a Fellow of Trinity College London (UK). He has over 25 years as a session player and conductor, performing with jazz, wind, and orchestral ensembles.
Land of Perpetual Ice
Greg Butcher described his motivation for composing this work in 2006:
The Suite Land of Perpetual Ice was composed after reading ‘The Heart of the Antarctic’, a book written by Ernest H. Shackleton which drew on the eventful diaries of the various members who took part in the ‘Farthest South’ expedition 100 years ago. It portrays the joys, the struggles, and the triumphs of a major expedition to a brutal land armed with only basic technology - the sole purpose of the expedition being the advancement of world science.The Suite is composed of five movements that flow smoothly together. The Nimrod salutes the expedition ship that left Lyttelton, New Zealand, on New Year’s Day 1908 and safely returned the crew on March 25, 1909. A foreboding theme conveys the dangers facing the expedition. The Conquest of Mount Erebus commemorates the historic first ascension of this 13,350 foot active volcano on the Antarctic continent by Edgeworth David, Douglas Mawson, and Dr. Alistair Forbes. The ethereal mood of the Aurora Australis portrays the curtains of light above the expedition’s camp marked by snapping tent flaps and the constancy of the cold winds. The fourth movement, The Heart of the Antarctic, salutes Shackleton’s book of that name. The extreme efforts of the crew and the dangerous conditions give way to the celebratory theme of the final movement, Southern Magnetic Pole, marking the planting of the Union Jack at this important geophysical point and laying claim to significant territory for the British Empire.