Sir Charles Mackerras was born in the United States of Australian parents in 1925. He studied in Sydney and Prague and made his debut in opera at Sadler’s Wells. From 1966 to 1969, he was First Conductor with the Hamburg State Opera. From 1970 to 1977, he was the Musical Director of Sadler’s Wells in London. Mackerras is a specialist in the Czech repertoire, notably Janácek, and has recorded a cycle of his operas with the Vienna Philharmonic.
Timothy Mahr was born in 1956 in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. He graduated with two Bachelor degrees summa cum laude from St. Olaf College in 1977 and 1978. He holds a Masters degree in trombone performance (1983) and a Doctor of Musical Arts in instrumental conducting (1995) from the University of Iowa. In 1994, Mahr joined the faculty of St. Olaf College where he serves as Professor of Music and Director of Bands. Active also as a composer, Mahr has over 50 works to his credit, many of which are published for band. His piece, The Soaring Hawk, earned the 1991 ABA/Ostwald Award. He is sought after as a guest conductor and clinician.
Noble Element was commissioned by the American School Band Directors Association (SBDA) in observance of their 50th Anniversary in 2003, with support from the Minnesota Music Educators Association (MMEA) and is dedicated to the 2002-3 MMEA All-State Symphonic Band. The SBDA was formed to help influence the direction and furthering the cause of good music in the nation's public schools. Mahr’s composition is meant to honor these dedicated professionals who believe that music as art is an important part of the curriculum. The pooling of their collective experience would help their colleagues better present the repertoire, teaching techniques, and responsibilities to administrations. Beginning with a stately and noble introduction, a purposeful rhythm builds interest and drives the theme forward. A tranquil interlude allows a time for reflection of what has been accomplished. A nimble theme builds to announce the opportunities that the future holds. A dance of joy is a prelude to the goal-driven finale.
Spring Divertimento was written as a tribute to the great composers Vincent Persichetti and Leonard Bernstein. It is a six-movement composition with an overall lightness to be a pleasant diversion. The opening Fanfare is showy and dramatic and in contrast to the tranquil Hymn movement. Frivolity returns with a solo trumpet playing above a rhythmic background in the Scherzo movement. The rhythm of the third movement shifts to a nostalgic waltz before returning to the light trumpet melody. A calm Serenade is introduced by the alto saxophone. The piano runs, like a babbling brook, through the Dance movement as clusters of chords reflect the bright colors of springtime. Flourish is an appropriate title for the last movement as bell tones from the brass grow in harmony and structure until the final proclamation of the full ensemble.
Martin Mailman was born in New York City in 1932. He began as a trumpet player and went on to receive degrees in composition from the Eastman School of Music (B.M. 1954; M.M. 1955; Ph.D. 1960). His long and successful teaching career began at the U.S. Naval School of Music in 1955 and continued with assignments at Eastman, Brevard Music Center, West Virginia University, and East Carolina College. In 1966, he began teaching at the University of North Texas, where he is currently Regents Professor of Music and Composer-in-Residence. He is a prolific composer providing works of chamber music, film and television music, band, choral, and orchestral music, an opera, and a requiem. Dr. Mailman died at his home in Denton, Texas, USA on April 18, 2000, at the age of 67.
Liturgical Music for Band
The names for the four movements of the Liturgical Music for Band are taken from the Proper and Ordinary sections of the Mass. The Introit is sung as the celebrant and ministers enter the church and approach the altar. The cheerful peeling of bells and a majestic fanfare provide this entrance. The solemn Kyrie consists of three sections and originally each section was sung three times to represent the Trinity. The opening rhythm punctuates the triple speech inflections of the Ky-ri-e in the phrases of Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy) and Christe eleison (Christ have mercy). The third movement provides a joyful and spirited reflection of the rhythmic Glo-ri-a. It is a song of praise that begins “Glory to God in the highest.” The final Alleluia movement combines elements of the fugue and sonata form. The sonorous brass chords provide an initial proclamation of jubilation as the ascending woodwinds sound a supreme expression of joy, triumph, and thanksgiving. Liturgical Music for Band was commissioned by director John Savage and the Greenville County High School of Emporia, Virginia, and was first performed in 1963.
Pascual Marquina (1873 - 1948) was born in the Spanish province of Zaragoza, the son of a civilian band director. His artistic talents first blossomed as a singer and later as a piccolo player. At 17, he became director of the Daroca Municipal Band. Two years later, he enlisted in the army and performed in several orchestras. His interested turned to composing and directing. Marquina studied composition in Barcelona and, in 1901, won the post of director of band battalion in Madrid. Becoming active in the lyric theater, he named director of the orchestra at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid. He served 18 years as the musical director for the Gramophone Company later identified by the logo of Nipper and “His Master’s Voice.” Marquina composed a number of zarzuelas and marches, but his pasodoble España Cañí brought him his greatest fame. His works are steeped in the Spanish folklore and nationalism. A few schottisches, fox trots, tangos, and songs are to his credit, also. He was awarded the Victoria Cross of the Order of Great Britain for a work combining the Royal March and English anthem on the occasion of the wedding of Alfonso XIII and Victoria of Battenberg.
Por La España Cañí
España Cañí (Spanish Gypsy Dance) is one of the most recognized and performed pasodobles in the world, and is equally at home in the bull fight arena, dance hall, or concert hall. Soft, deliberate staccato patterns introduce the work that bursts forth with the bright, festive call of the trumpets. Marquina composed this work in 1925 and dedicated it to José López de la Osa, who was a designer of footwear molds and a fervent admirer of Marquina. The lyrics proclaim: “Hear my song. To you I started to fly... I bluff a woman, a gypsy like me, of beautiful dark skin and color....Savor the taste of sherry, clapping in time, and the Mirabrás bull..It is your coral lips that night and day I want to kiss.” This arrangement is by Rafael Mendez (1906 - 1981), an accomplished Mexican virtuoso solo trumpeter. Mendez was legendary for his tone, range, technique, and unparalleled double tonguing. His playing exhibited brilliant tone, wide vibrato, and clean, rapid articulation.
Henry Mancini (1924 - 1994) was born in Cleveland, the son of Italian immigrants. His father, as steelworker, played the flute to relax after work and forced the young Henry to study music. As a youth, it was the music of Cecil B. DeMille's epic movies that impressed him most and, despite his father's wishes that Henry become a teacher, he decided to write music for the movies. He attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Julliard School of Music, but his studies were cut short when he was drafted to fight in World War II. During the war, he got to know some of the musicians in Glenn Miller's band, leading to a job with the band after the war. Eventually, he began writing for radio shows and the movies. He worked quickly and his output was prodigious. He won 20 Grammy Awards and Academy Awards for the scores for "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Victor/Victoria." He was a pioneer in moving film scores from heavy symphonic treatments to simpler arrangements employing jazz motifs.
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.
David Henry Maslanka was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1943. While his parents weren’t musicians, Maslanka believes that his mother stressed the heritage of his maternal grandfather, a violinist and amateur violin maker, and this grandfather’s brother who played clarinet. Maslanka listened to his mother’s collections of records that featured Chopin, Rimsky-Korsakov, and other classical composers. He was drawn to the clarinet and became quite proficient on the instrument, playing in All State Bands and the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra. He earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Oberlin College Conservatory (1965), where he studied under Joseph Wood. His Oberlin curriculum included a year of study (1963) at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. Graduate studies continued at Michigan State University (1965-1971) studying composition under H. Owen Reed and earning his MM and PhD. He taught at SUNY-Genesceo, Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and Kingsborough Community College in New York. Significant in Maslanka’s development as a composer was an exchange of letters with composer Michael Colgrass. Colgrass had pointed out that composers often needed a second job to pay the bills and said “I think the most important thing a composer must do is decide if he is a composer...it’s a difficult decision to make because once you’ve committed yourself to it most people will think you’re irresponsible...” It took 17 years for Maslanka to make the decision, which ultimately led him to settle in the relatively isolated town of Missoula, Montana. Maslanka has written many works for winds and percussion. He draws sounds from pop, folk, and jazz music, as well as Bach chorales, which he considers to have been folk tunes in their time. His A Child’s Garden of Dreams is his most popular work for wind ensemble.
Give Us This Day
The composer gives the listener his insight into this work, completed
“The words ‘Give us this day’ are, of course, from the Lord’s Prayer, but the inspiration for this music is Buddhist. I have recently read a book by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced “Tick Not Hahn”) entitled For a Future to be Possible.” His premise is that a future for the planet is only possible if individuals become deeply mindful of themselves, deeply connected to who they really are. While this is not a new idea, and something that is an ongoing struggle for everyone, in my estimation it is the issue for world peace. For me, writing music, and working with people to perform music, are two of those points of deep mindfulness.The melody of Bach’s 18th century chorale has been sometimes attributed to Martin Luther, but it has been traced to writings of 1539 by an anonymous composer. For contemporary audiences, the melody will be most often associated with the tune of the “Old 100th” to which is sung the Christian Doxology Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow. Betty Pulkingham’s 1973 composition of Our Father in Heaven has a much lighter, modern melody for the Lord’s Prayer.
“Music makes the connection to reality, and by reality I mean a true awakeness and awareness. Give Us This Day gives us this very moment of awakeness and aware aliveness so that we can build a future in the face of a most dangerous and difficult time.
“I chose the subtitle “Short Symphony for Wind Ensemble” because the music isn’t programmatic in nature. It has a full-blown symphonic character, even though there are only two movements. The music of the slower first movement is deeply searching, while that of the highly energized second movement is at times both joyful and sternly sober. The piece ends with a modal setting of the choral melody Vater Unser im Himmelreich (Our Father in Heaven), no. 110 from the 371 four-part chorales of Johann Sebastian Bach.”
Dr. Francis McBeth, born March 9, 1933 in Ropesville, Texas, was Professor of Music and Resident Composer at Ouachita University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, until his retirement in 1996. As the Conductor Emeritus of the Arkansas Symphony and composer for all media, his intense interest in the wind symphony has been a shaping force in its literature and his style is much reflected in the younger composers. McBeth attended the University of Texas and the Eastman School of Music. He was presented with the Howard Hanson Composition Award in 1963. In 1975, Arkansas Governor Bob C. Riley appointed McBeth as Composer Laureate of that state. His conducting activities took him to 49 states, Canada, Japan, and Australia. A resident of Arkansas for more than half a century, McBeth passed away in Arkadelphia on January 6, 2012 at the age of 78.
Kaddish (rhymes with Schottische) is an ancient Jewish doxological prayer for the dead. It is said by the bereaved each morning and evening for eleven months, then on the anniversary of the death thereafter. To it is ascribed the power of redeeming the departed soul from any suffering and the efficacy of invalidating an evil decree. The composition was written as a memorial to J. Clifton Williams, noted composer and former teacher of McBeth at the University of Texas. (Williams wrote The Sinfonians, which opened this concert.) McBeth wrote: "This work is a combination of all emotions that surround the death of a friend - cries, shouts, resignation and sorrow - but the work should end as an alleluia, an affirmation of life." The constant background heartbeat in the bass drum and timpani reinforces this feeling of life. The work was commissioned by Howard Dunn and the Richardson (Texas) High School Band.
Of Sailors and Whales
Of Sailors and Whales is a five-movement work based on five scenes from Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." It was commissioned by and is dedicated to the California Band Directors Association, Inc., and was premiered in February 1990 by the California All-State Band, conducted by the composer. The work is subdedicated to Robert Lanon White, Commander USN (Ret.), who went to sea as a simple sailor.
I. Ishmael - "I go to sea as a simple sailor"
II. Queequeg - "It was quite plain that he must be some abominable savage, but Queequeg was a creature in the transitory state - neither caterpillar nor butterfly."
III. Father Mapple - "This ended, in prolonged solemn tones, like the continual tolling of a bell in a ship that is foundering at sea in a fog - in such tones he commenced reading the following hymn; but changing his manner towards the concluding stanzas, burst forth with a pealing exultation and joy."
The ribs and terrors in the whale
Arched over me a dismal gloom
While all God's sunlit waves rolled by,
And lift me lower down to doom.
In black distress I called my God
when I could scarce believe Him mine,
He bowed His ear to my complaint,
no more the whale did me confine.
My songs forever shall record,
That terrible, that joyful hour,
I give the glory to my God,
His all the mercy and the power.
IV. Ahab - "So powerfully did the whole grim aspect of Ahab affect me that for the first few moments I hardly noted the barbaric white leg upon which he partly stood."
V. The White Whale - "Moby Dick seemed combinedly possessed by all the angels that fell from heaven. The birds! - the birds! They mark the spot."
The son of a Dallas, Texas, pioneer, Earl Elleson McCoy (1884 - 1934) attended the University of Illinois in 1905-6, majoring in music. As a band member, he wrote the popular march Lights Out. A proficient performer on oboe, trombone, violin, and piano, McCoy attended a conservatory of music in Chicago. He spent a decade touring with theater orchestras around the country. Settling in El Paso, Texas, in 1930, McCoy directed the College of Mines and Metallurgy Band. He helped to found the Dallas and El Paso Symphony Orchestras. Contracting tuberculosis, he died at the relatively young age of 49.Lights Out March
Anne McGinty (b. 1945) became interested in music as a flute student in her home town of Findlay, Ohio. She entered Ohio State University, where she studied flute under Donald McGinnis. She left to pursue a career in flute performance with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Returning to college, she received her B.M. (summa cum laude) and M.M from Duquesne University. Active as a composer, flute instructor, guest conductor, and clinician, she also co-owns Queenwood Publications with her husband, John Edmondson. Besides music, her interests include weight lifting, reading murder mysteries, learning to play the bagpipes and nurturing her two cats, Starz and Stripes.
The composer describes Spirals as her “attitude” piece and comments:
Spirals represent the shapes of life, the unfolding of dreams, the advancement to a higher level. Spirals are the symbols of women; yet we all travel around the spiral, never returning to exactly the same place. Spirals express our vitality for life, with twists and turns representing the ongoing transition in our lives. The inspiration for the creation of this piece came from these words and the feelings they impart.
Testimonium is based on a three-note motif first heard from the solo trombone at the beginning of the composition. The introduction also sets the harmonic character of superimposed major chords. The trumpets expand the motif into a five-note figure as the tempo quickens. The middle section features a poignant trumpet solo and ends with solos for clarinet, flute, horns, and oboe. The five-note structure is recapitulated as the composition is propelled with constantly changing meters up to the exciting conclusion. Testimonium was commissioned by and dedicated to the 1985-86 Bath High School Bands (Lima, Ohio) and was premiered on March 3, 1986.
'Tis A Gift
This composition was commissioned by the Montoursville (PA) Area High School Band in memory of three band students who lost their lives aboard TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996. The composer wrote:
‘Tis A Gift, based on the familiar Shaker song “Simple Gifts,” is a celebration of the insuppressible and eternal spirit of humanity. This composition is written in three distinct sections, each representing a different characteristic of the human spirit. The first section illustrates the innocence of youth, with an eagerness to experience all life has to offer. Based on small motifs from the song, this section is lighthearted and joyous with a contrasting, songlike interlude. The second section, a simple yet powerful interpretation of “Simple Gifts,” depicts the gift of understanding and the willingness to forgive. The third section symbolizes the courage to persevere and eternal optimism, a playful and free-spirited romp, again using motivic elements from the song. A brief coda, based on the introduction, concludes this piece in high spirits.
Catherine McMichael (b. 1954) is a pianist, composer, performer, arranger, and teacher. An alumna of the University of Michigan (B.M. piano performance, M.M. chamber music and accompanying), she is on the faculty of Michigan’s Saginaw Valley State University, directs the handbell choir at First United Methodist Church in Saginaw, and is a popular clinician at workshops and institutes in North America, England, and Australia. Presently on indefinite sabbatical from teaching, she’s finally able to devote time to completing the many commissions that have come to her. Some of her clients have included The Canadian Brass, Ithaca College, University of Massachusetts, and the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Gallery and Museum. She is an avid reader, gardener, painter, and collector of cookbooks from all the interesting places she’s taught. She and her violinist husband, Rod Bieber, have two spirited children, Meredith and Nathan, and two fluffy cats.
Catherine McMichael's Home Page: http://catherinemcmichael.com/
This fanfare was originally one of four pieces in The Rose Quartet, a piano quartet for intermediate level students. It premiered in its arrangement for brass choir and percussion at the 1991 Northwood Summer Music Festival near Lake Charlevoix in northern Michigan. The composer is a devoted rose lover and has selected the David Austin-bred Proud Titania, a sweetly fragrant, old-fashioned double bloom of creamy white, sometimes touched with pink, as symbolic of this piece. Titania was the queen of the fairies in Shakespeare’s telling of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” A British flavor is present in the work, together with the rich chords that represent the subtle colors and textures of the rose.
Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847) may not have been born with as much talent as Mozart, but his childhood training, perfect pitch, and an all-encompassing memory helped him to into a skillful and "pure" musician. His family's wealth assisted in his training, but it also instilled correctness and conservatism into him. He was taught the piano by his mother and gave his first public recital when he was nine. By the time he was seventeen, he had composed twelve string symphonies, an opera, and the overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 1829, after three years of study at the University of Berlin, he undertook music as a career. In that year, he conducted the first performance, since Bach's death, of the Passion According to St. Matthew, sparking a revival of interest in Bach's music. He also embarked on a three-year Grand Tour of Italy, France, and Britian. He became a court favorite and both man and the music were greatly admired. His affection for Britian would later be pronounced in his Hebrides Overture and Scottish Symphony; an affection that was warmly reciprocated. In 1835, he leaped at the opportunity to take over the Gevandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, Bach's town! In a short time, Leipzig became the musical capital of Germany. He was one of the first conductors to us a baton, which helped with his insistence on precision and fast rhythms. In 1846, a year before his early death through severe overwork and stress, he presented his oratorio Elijah in Birmingham.
Overture for Winds, Op. 24
During his family's summer stay at the fashionable seaside resort of Bad Doberan on the shores of the Baltic Sea, Mendelssohn was much impressed with the wind band that performed at the bathing establishment. The composition of a work to be performed at one of the concerts was a challenge to an already accomplished fifteen-year composer and musician. The andante opening of the overture is developed in a style reminiscent of a chamber group with solo passages traded amongst the musicians. The composition soon adopts an allegro vivace tempo that brings the full wind band into a logically structured, rhythmically driven theme. The fluid runs of the woodwinds are punctuated by accents from the brass.
Peter Mennin was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1923. He began formal music studies at the age of seven and quickly became interested in composition. He completed his Symphony No. 1 at the age of 18. He received his musical training at Oberlin Conservatory and the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers. In 1947, after receiving his Ph.D degree, he was appointed to the faculty of the Juilliard School, where he remained for ten years. In 1957, Mennin received a Guggenheim Fellowship and he spent a year in Europe and then served as Director of the Peabody Conservatory of Music. Four years later, Mennin returned to the Juilliard School as its President; a position he held until his untimely death in 1983. Mennin’s compositional style was his own, as he never aligned himself with any particular school or style. He composed without a piano or other musical instrument. The form and orchestration of a work would be completely designed in his head before he ever put a note to paper. Besides his six symphonies, Mennin has composed concertos, string quartets, sonatas, and choral works.
Canzona was commissioned in 1950 by prestigious band director Edwin Franko Goldman. Goldman believed that the future of the concert band required the development of a significant repertoire from contemporary composers. At the time the work was commissioned, many composers felt that they could not advance their careers by writing for concert band. It is not clear if this was a sentiment shared by Peter Mennin, as Canzona is the only work that he composed for concert band. Mennin chose the title in homage to the late Renaissance instrumental forms of that name. Canzoni were particularly popular with Giovanni Gabrieli, who used the acoustics of the Cathedral of St. Mark in Venice to provide contrasting, antiphonal statements from opposing brass voices. Mennin has introduced that same polyphony into his composition and combined it with modern harmony and structure. Woodwinds and brass alternately reinforce and complement each other. Even during the solo passages, the tempo marking of Allegro Deciso underscores the powerful rhythms and themes.
Darius Milhaud (1892 - 1974) wrote the Suite Francaise, his first extended work for winds, in 1945 on a commission from the publisher, Leeds Music Corporation, as part of a contemplated series of original works for band by outstanding contemporary composers. Suite Francaise was given its first performance by the Goldman Band in 1945. It was so successful that Milhaud was requested to rescore it for orchestra. The premiere of the orchestral edition was played by the New York Philharmonic. The composer provided the following notes about the work:
"The five parts of this suite are named after French provinces, the very ones in which the American and Allied armies fought together with the French underground for the liberation of my country -- Normandy, Brittany, Ile-de-France (of which Paris is the center), Alsace-Lorraine, and Provence."
"I used some folk tunes of the provinces. I wanted the young Americans to hear the popular melodies of those parts of France where their fathers and brothers fought to defeat the German invaders who in less than seventy years have brought war, destruction, cruelty, torture, and murder, three times, to the peaceful and democratic people of France."
Alton Glenn Miller began a solid mid-western life in Clarinda, Iowa, in 1904. When he was 3, his family homesteaded in Tryon, Nebraska. A pump organ, played by his mother, would fill their sod house with music. Moving again, as a teen, to Missouri, Miller earned money to buy a trombone by milking cows. He attended two years of college at the University of Colorado, but his interest in the new dance band music led him to leave school and try his luck in Los Angeles. He found work in several groups, including Ben Pollack’s orchestra, touring alongside a clarinetist named Benny Goodman. When Pollack’s orchestra moved to New York, Miller left the group to successfully freelance in that city. In 1934, he helped Ray Noble organize an orchestra that gained popularity through its radio broadcasts. Four years later, he started the Glenn Miller Orchestra (really, the second with that name). With engagements at summer resorts in New York and New Jersey, together with radio broadcasts, the orchestra started breaking attendance records at his engagements. Contributing to the special sound of his arrangements was the use of the clarinet as the lead instrument, harmonically supported by saxophones. His recording of Tuxedo Junction sold 115,000 copies in the first week of its release. He earned the first gold record ever awarded for his Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
Too old to be drafted, Miller volunteered for the Navy in 1942, but they could not use his services. Undaunted, Miller persuaded the Army to accept him “to put a little more spring into the feet of our marching men and a little more joy into their hearts.” He joined the Army Air Corps as a Captain, later rising to the rank of Major. During World War II, Miller’s band entertained more than a million troops. On the night of December 15, 1944, Miller embarked on a military flight to Paris to make arrangements for a Christmas broadcast to the troops. The flight took off in foggy weather and was lost over the English Channel.
In the Miller Mood
Please see the notes under Warren Barker, arranger.
Michael Mogensen (b. 1973) is a native and resident of Hagerstown, Maryland. He represents the third generation of his family to play in the Hagerstown Municipal Band. The French Horn was his primary instrument while earning musical composition degrees from James Madison University (1996), VA, and Ithaca College, NY. He has held positions with Warner Brothers Publications and Disney Music Publishing. Besides composing, arranging, and performing a variety of music, Mogensen has served as an adjudicator, clinician, instructor, and guest conductor. His 2003 composition Sierra Dawn was awarded the prestigious Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel Composition Award from the US Air Force Band in Washington, DC. As a follow-on commission, his Aerial Fantasy was nominated for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music.
Afterglow: Light Still Shining
This composition was written in 2005 in memory of the composer’s friend, Robert Grab, an accomplished trumpeter and teacher who died at the age of 43. Michael Mogensen offered the following commentary of the work:
Modeste Petrovich Moussorgsky (1835 - 1881) was tutored on the piano by his mother, becoming quite proficient by the age of nine. His original ambition, however, was military, and he eventually joined the famous Preobrajensky regiment. His attitude toward music was that of an amateur until 1857, when he was brought into contact with the members of the New Russian School. His talent developed rapidly and was soon recognized by such men as Balkirev, Rimsky-Korsakoff, and Borodin. Military duties became irksome, so he resigned from the army. Poverty forced him to take a clerical position in St. Petersburg. Because of his high-strung, sensitive nature and irregular mode of life, his health became impaired. In 1866, he went to live with a brother in Minkino, and it was there that he recovered sufficiently to do some of his best work. He died in St. Petersburg on March 28, 1881.
Pictures At An Exhibition
A posthumous exhibition of drawings and water-colors by the architect Victor Hartmann, intimate friend of Moussorgsky, was held in memory of the artist under the auspices of Vladimir Stassov, art and music critic, at the Academy of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, in 1874. Moussorgsky, as a tribute to his friend, essayed piano "paraphrases" of the best of the sketches. The original piano version, published in 1886, is less frequently heard because it tends to have a monochromatic effect, due to its massive chords. Exploiting more fully the coloristic possibilities of the work, Maurice Ravel, at the request of Serge Koussevitzky, set himself the task in 1922 to transcribe Moussorgsky's writing into a work for orchestra.
I. Promenade - This introduction, which is repeated several times as an interlude in the original suite, is rated as one of Moussorgsky's most charming inspirations. Stassov remarked that the composer portrays himself walking idly about the exhibition, now right, now left, at one moment pausing before a picture, at another sadly reminiscent.
II The Old Castle - (A castle of the Middle Ages, before which a troubadour is singing.) Moussorgsky chose a somber key and a pastoral rhythm and style to represent this painting. The plaintive song of the troubadour is assigned to the alto saxophone in Ravel's orchestration and Leidzen's transcription.
III. Tuileries - (Children disputing after play. An alley in the Tuileries gardens swarms with children and nurses.) These children are squabbling and in the first measure a fretful voice plainly cries, "Nursie, Nursie." A calm passage occurring later suggests that the children are pacified, but the quarrel begins over again, and the piece ends with a gesture of childish impatience.
IV. Bydlo - (A Polish ox-cart with enormous wheels.) The cart creaks and groans as it move slowly over the rough road in the twilight. The sound of the oxen's hoofs is reproduced in the steady beat of the timpani and bass drum, above which is heard the song of the driver, who rejoices that the day's toil has ended. The ponderous basses grow softer as the cart disappears in the thickening gloom.
V. Ballet of the Unhatched Chickens - (A costume sketch for a scene in the ballet Trilby.) This is a delicately humorous representation of chicks emerging from their shells. The light tapping on the shells, and the soft chirping and stirring are reproduced with great fidelity; also, the surprise and consternation of the chicks when they first look about them. The Scherzino is repeated, after which there is a four-measure Coda.
VI. The Market-place at Limoges (French marketwomen quarreling.) The women's shrill voices as they cry their wares and haggle over prices are reproduced with much realism. The work builds up from a low buzz of conversation to a cheerful din in which the whole band takes part. A short pause followed by three measures meno mosso and one accelerando leads directly into the next movement, Catacombs.
VII. Catacombs - (In this drawing, Hartmann portrayed himself examining the interior of the catacombs in Paris by the light of a lantern.) The music is a series of sustained brass-chorale chords, the macabre atmosphere emphasized by the elimination of the woodwinds, restating a mournful Promenade theme.
VIII. The Hut of Baba-Yaga - (Baba-Yaga is a witch of folk-legend, whose hut was mounted on chicken's claws, and who rode through the air in a mortar propelled by a pestle, devastating field and wood as she rode.) In the music, she is represented by a rhythmic, strongly emphasized figure, and her ride is graphically described. Toward the close of the piece, there is a quiet section in which the pealing of bells in the distance prepares the listener for the next movement with its brilliant pageantry.
IX. The Great Gate of Kiev - (The artist's design for the gate was in the archaic Russian style, featuring a cupola in the form of an ancient Slavonic helmet.) The music depicts the Bogatyri (war heroes) entering the city in solemn procession (maestoso), to a theme given out by full band. A religious chant is followed by loud descending scales accompanying the martial theme. Finally, the opening chords of the march are heard fortissimo as if sung by a great multitude assembled in the capital city.
Moussorgsky's first and only tone poem is based on an ancient Russian legend. and was first written in 1860 as music for a play, The Witch. Bald Mountain, near Kiev, was the gathering place of witches from all over Russia on the night before St. John's Day (June 23); they came to celebrate a Black Mass and dance insanely in wild revelry to gain Satan's favor. As the dance reaches its climax, the church bells toll the coming of the dawn, breaking the spell. A bird (solo oboe) sings of the fresh morning, while a peasant's song (solo flute) rises from the valley below. Good triumphs over evil, the sacred over the profane. This work received wide public exposure with its inclusion in Walt Disney's Fantasia, juxtaposed against the Ave Maria.
At the age of three, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) showed a remarkable love of music. He would listen to his sister Marianne's lessons and later would improvise similar tunes and chords. Touring the great courts of Europe, under their father's tutelage, the children's talents were hailed with astonishment. By the time he was twelve, Mozart had written numerous works, including two operas. As a young man and no longer the infant prodigy, Mozart returned to Salzburg to the unsympathetic atmosphere of the archbishop's court. Despite an uncertain financial position and poor health, Mozart produced a fabulous legacy of opera, concerto, symphony, choral, and ensemble music.
The Marriage of Figaro Overture
Composed in 1786, this was the first of Mozart's greatest series of operas. The combination of Da Ponte's witty text and Mozart's sparkling music was irresistible; the premier was such a success that the length of the performance was doubled by the many encores. The anti-Mozart forces rallied to sabotage the production by producing a rival opera, however, and Mozart's masterpiece closed after only nine performances. The overture, in a bright presto tempo throughout, is a pure gem of spontaneous melody and skillful design. There are many contrasts of dynamics between the fast woodwinds and the triumphant horns. Brightly contrapunctal throughout, the piece ends with a rapid fugue and fanfare.
Václav Nelhýbel (1919 - 1996) was born the youngest of five children in Polanka, Czechoslovakia. He studied at Prague University, the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and at the Prague Conservatory, beginning his career in 1939 as conductor at Radio Prague. In 1950, he became the first musical director of Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany. Nehlýbel emigrated to the United States in 1957, becoming a citizen 5 years later. He taught at several schools, including the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the University of Scranton (PA), where he was composer in residence at the time of his death. The creation of music was a driving force in Nelhýbel’s life. He wrote over 600 compositions, which included orchestral works, operas, and works for solo, small, and full concert wind ensembles. Nelhýbel described European bands as “just functional marching units.” In 1962, he received his first exposure to a concert band. He wrote: “The first band I heard played a piece by Persichetti, and it was so good I just caught fire. I was fascinated with the possibilities of what you can do with half an acre of clarinets, half an acre of flutes, and half an acre of percussion. So I said, why not try it? I did, and it seemed to open new creative channels in my mind.” It was the enthusiasm of the students that truly inspired him to compose. His music is complex and exciting; it employs linear counterpoint, freely dissonant harmonic textures, and forceful rhythms. Notable works for concert band include Trittico, Symphonic Movement, and Procession to the end of time.
Music has often been used to express emotion. A strong sense of sorrow and vengeance is evident in Nelhýbel’s Corsican Litany, composed in 1976. The composer has provided some background upon which this work is based:
“In many parts of the world it was once common practice during burial ceremonies to have professional mourners dramatize the grief of the bereaved by means of loud and emotional lamentations, repeated endlessly like a chant. In some places, notably the Mediterranean countries, these laments were actually sung, usually by women who were skilled in this macabre art and could command pay for their services.”
“Corsican laments, like Corsican deaths, were divided into two types: the ordinary lamento for death from natural causes, and the vocero if the mourned had been murdered. The latter then became a song of grief so intense, so filled with pain, that it could only be assuaged by an act of direst vengeance. The murderer was accused and identified by name, and the singer solemnly swore to see to it that he who had murdered would pay for it with his life.”
“Corsican Litany is based on a vocero first known to have been sung in 1775 at the funeral of a country doctor named Matju who had been murdered by his own patient, one Natale. The melody is introduced mournfully, but grows steadily in passionate intensity until an astonishing climax is reached in the final menacing oath of vengeance.”
Ron Nelson was born in Joliet, Illinois, on December 14, 1929. He began piano lessons at the age of 6. At that tender age, he wrote his first composition entitled The Sailboat, finding it more fun to improvise than to practice. He became a church organist at the age of 13. His early efforts rewarded him with the discipline to write down his improvisations and the basic principles of orchestration. He studied at the Eastman School of Music, where he earned his B. Mus, M. Mus, and D.M.A. in 1952, 1953, and 1956, respectively. After receiving his Doctorate, he joined the music faculty of Brown University, where he served as Chairman of the Music Department from 1963 to 1973. He has composed two operas, a mass, music for films and television, 90 choral works, and over 40 instrumental works. Composing for band has become a major focus and the community has been rewarded with his Savannah River Holiday, Rocky Point Holiday, Passacaglia, and Chaconne.
Lauds is described by the composer as “... an exhuberant, colorful work intended to express feelings of praise and glorification.” Lauds is one of the seven canonical hours that were selected by St. Benedict as the times the monks would observe the daily offices. Three (terce, sext, and none) were the times of the changing of the Roman guards and four (matins, lauds, vespers, and compline) were tied to nature. Lauds, subtitled Praise High Day, honors the sunrise; it is filled with the glory and excitement of a new day. The work received its premier by the U.S. Air Force Band on January 24, 1992.
Savannah River Holiday, Overture
Originally composed as an orchestral overture, this work received its premiere over NBC Radio on March 16, 1953. Two contrasting moods alternate throughout the work. One, gay and reckless opens and closes the overture. The other, quiet and reflective, provides a lovely lyrical balance. Together, these moods reflect the power and serenity of a mighty river.
Samuel Louis "Sammy" Nestico was a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, attending high school there and playing trombone in the school band. He received a degree in music education from Duquesne University in 1946. For 15 years, he was a staff arranger for the USAF Band in Washington, D. C. and for five years, the US Marine Band. He made tours with the Woody Herman and Tommy Dorsey bands and performed with the Boston Pops. His arrangements and compositions have been a part of over 60 television programs, including M*A*S*H and Love Boat.
Beginning in a moderato tempo, the sweet sound of the solo alto saxophone gets the listener interested in its after- statements of themes played by the ensemble. A short phrase in cut-time offers an interesting twist before returning to the tempo and theme of the start. It is easy to understand the persuasion of the piece after its climax of a solo cadenza and mellow ending.
Born in Louisville and raised in rural Kentucky, John Jacob Niles (1892 - 1980) played an important part in nurturing and preserving American folk music. His family encouraged his singing and he started to collect folk music. His mother taught him music theory. In 1908, he composed his first song, Go ‘Way from My Window, based on a phrase he learned working in his family’s fields alongside an African American farmhand. Niles was able to continue collecting music during his 8 years of employment for the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, a time during which he composed his popular Black is The Color of My True Love’s Hair. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the beginning of World War I. Injured in a plane crash in France, he was honorably discharged and the U.S. Government financed his music education in Lyon and Paris, followed by studies at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. in 1925, Niles moved to New York and began publishing his music collections and began performances of traditional mountain music. He made tours of Appalacia, collecting material he later published (1961) in “The Ballad Book.” In 1936 he moved back to Kentucky and began his recording career. He was influential in the revival of folk music in the 1950s and 1960s. He continued an active performance, composition, and recording career until his death.
I Wonder As I Wander
I Wonder As I Wander is a folk ballad heard and later developed
by composer and balladeer John Jacob Niles while was touring and
collecting melodies in the Appalacian Region of the eastern United
States. The ballad has been widely adopted and most often performed as a
Christmas carol. Terry Vosbein’s arrangement provides a mystic
background to the simple melody. Niles described the background of this
I Wonder As I Wander grew out of three lines of music sung for me by a girl who called herself Annie Morgan. The place was Murphy, North Carolina, and the time was July 16, 1933. The Morgan family, revivalists all, were about to be ejected by the police, after having camped in the town square for some little time, cooking, washing, hanging their wash from the Confederate monument and generally conducting themselves in such a way as to be classed a public nuisance. Preacher Morgan and his wife pled poverty; they had to hold one more meeting in order to buy enough gas to get out of town. It was then that Annie Morgan came out--a tousled, unwashed blond, and very lovely. She sang the first three lines of the verse of I Wonder As I Wander. At twenty-five cents a performance, I tried to get her to sing all the song. After eight tries, all of which are carefully recorded in my notes, I had only three lines of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material--and a magnificent idea. With the writing of additional verses and the development of the original melodic material, I Wonder As I Wander came into being. I sang it for five years in my concerts before it caught on. Since then, it has been sung by soloists and choral groups wherever the English language is spoken and sung.
I wonder as
I wonder, out under the sky,
||If Jesus had wanted for any
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing,
He surely could have it, ‘cause he was the King.
birthed Jesus, ‘twas in a cow’s stall,
||I wonder as I wander, out
under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die
For poor on’ry people like you and like I ...
I wonder as I wander, out under the sky.
Born and raised in California's Central Valley towns of Tulare and Modesto, Roger Nixon (b. 1921) acquired a taste for the rhythms and dances of the early settlers of the state which appear in many of his works. His musical interests were nurtured in the public school music program, summer camp at Pacific Grove, and Modesto Junior College. He spent the war years in the Navy as a commanding officer of an LCMR in the Atlantic. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied with Roger Sessions, Sir Arthur Bliss, Ernest Bloch and privately with Arnold Schoenberg. In 1960, he joined the faculty at San Francisco State University. He has written over 60 compositions for orchestra, band, choir, and opera. In 1997, Nixon was honored by the Texas Bandmasters Association as a Heritage American Composer.
Bright in color, quick in tempo, and effervescent in spirit, the Festival Fanfare - March is Roger Nixon’s third fanfare-march for band. Written in 1971 and preceded by Nixon’s Elegy and Fanfare - March and the Centennial Fanfare - March, the work is a continuation of the composer’s exploration of this genre. The Festival Fanfare - March received the 1973 Ostwald Award of the American Bandmasters’ Association.
Fiesta del Pacifico, dedicated to the San Francisco State College Symphonic Band and its director Edwin Kruth, was composed for them at about the same time Roger Nixon joined that institutions's faculty. The title refers to one of several festivals held annually in various communities in California which celebrate the Old Spanish Days of the state. The particular festival is held in San Diego for twelve days in the summer and features a play on the history of the area and a cast of over a thousand, a parade, a rodeo, and street dances. “Tonal fresco” is the phrase Nixon uses to describe this brief but evocative piece, adding that the concept is “similar to that of a tone poem, or that of the music drama, in that some of the musical ideas have extra-musical connotations. It is impressionistic in that the aim is to create descriptive impressions rather than to tell a story. The work is a large dance movement which makes frequent use of Spanish-Mexican idioms, and a detailed knowledge of the musical imagery is not requisite to enjoyment.”