Paris-born Charles Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) was a child prodigy, composing his first piece for piano at the age of three. He studied with Stamaty and Boëly before entering the Paris Conservatory in 1848. He was a private student of Gounod. Saint-Saëns had total recall; any book he read or tune he heard was forever committed to his memory. He held the coveted post of organist at the Madeleine from 1857 to 1875. He was also an accomplished pianist, conductor, score reader, and astronomer. As a composer, he wrote in many genres, including opera, symphonies, concertos, sacred and secular choral music, concertos, and chamber music. His highly popular works, including Danse Macabre (1875) and Samson and Delilah were written during a short and tragic marriage, that included the loss of his two young sons within a period of six weeks. The Carnival of the Animals is a favorite of children of all ages, but it had only two performances while Saint-Saëns was alive, possibly because he had written it as a parody of some of the popular music of the time.
Finale to Hail! California
For 9 months in 1915, over 3 miles of San Francisco’s waterfront, from Fort Mason to the Marina, were the site of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Officially, it celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal. It also became a showcase for the City’s transformation from a pioneer town into a global metropolis and a demonstration of its comeback from the disastrous 1906 earthquake. Thirty-one nations and many U.S. states had exhibition halls in this city within a city. Inside the impressive structures were exhibitions of technology (i.e., telephones, cars, airplanes, and motion pictures), farming & dairy techniques (i.e., Luther Burbank’s horticulture, milking machines), and the arts. The French Government appointed Saint-Saëns to be an emissary who might encourage the United States to become an ally in the naval war that was being waged by the Germans. Saint-Saëns gave lectures and conducted concerts. For the occasion, he composed Hail! California. The premiere took place in the Festival Hall seating 3,782 persons. The work called for a full orchestra of 80, an organ, and a wind band of 60. The Sousa Band filled the part of the latter, with its participation during the last six minutes of the lengthy orchestral work. As a gesture for unity, Saint-Saëns has woven phrases of the national anthems La Marseillaise and The Star-Spangled Banner into the Finale. Editor and Arranger Peter Stanley Martin found the original score at the Eastman School of Music and has skillfully incorporated the orchestral parts of the Finale into the score for the Sousa Band to create a work for modern wind band.
Morceau de Concert
Morceau de Concert translates as "concert piece''. It is a solo horn tour de force that was written in 1880 as a part of a virtuoso tradition developed in France, upheld mainly by the faculty of the Paris Conservatoire. In the tradition, continued to this day, each study period ends with a competition in which the first prize is awarded to the winner as a symbol of excellence. Saint-Saëns' composition was dedicated to the horn virtuoso Chaussier, who won the Premier Prix in 1880.Orient et Occident
Originally written for four-hand piano, it was transcribed for band by Arthur Frackenpohl. The tempo of a pas redouble varies with the proficiency of the performer(s), as well as the wishes of the composer and the customs of that period. During the mid-nineteenth century, military units in some nations were marching to a cadence of about ninety steps per minute for the slow march (pas ordinaire), 120 for the quick march (pas redouble), and 160 to 180 for the double-quick march (pas de charge). Frackenpohl recommends a tempo of 144 for this march.
Richard L. Saucedo is currently Director of Bands, Emeritus, after retiring from the William H. Duke Center for the Performing Arts at Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana. The Carmel bands received numerous state and national honors in the areas of concert band, jazz, and marching band during his 31 years of tenure. In 2010, Saucedo was named “Outstanding Music Educator” by the Indiana Music Educators Association. He was born December 2, 1957, and grew up in Anderson, Indiana. He did his undergraduate work at Indiana University in Bloomington and completed his Master’s degree at Butler University in Indianapolis. Saucedo works as a freelance arranger and composer with many compositions for concert band, arrangements for marching band, and choral works. He is a much sought-after clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor for concert, jazz, and marching bands and orchestra. He is also an aviation enthusiast and a certified private pilot.
Rhythm is important to dance choreography, as it sets the pace and pattern. Most Western music is based on 2, 3, or 4 beats to a measure. The intervals are regular, like a heart beat. Music with 5 beats per measure seems awkward and needs concentration to distinguish patterns of 2 + 3 or 3 + 2 in the music. Quintuple music does have roots in Slavic and Scandinavian regions, the Middle East, and Asia. It is common to indigenous Australia and the Yupik of Alaska. The rhythm is very often set by drums. Richard Saucedo has written Rhythm Danse entirely in 5/4 meter. He brings variety to his intense composition by passing the rhythm between instrumental sections. He challenges the listeners and musicians to sense the pulse and feel comfortable with something out of the ordinary.
With Each Sunset (Comes the Promise of a New Day)
“Music has always been used as a way of expressing emotions or as an
antidote to certain painful life encounters,” wrote composer Richard L.
Saucedo. It is in that sentiment that he composed this piece in memory
of Jack Hensley (1955 - 2004), a civil engineer from Cook County,
Georgia. During tough economic times in the United States and struggling
to support his family with three jobs, Mr. Hensley signed on for a
year-long construction job in Iraq. One morning in Baghdad, on their way
to work, he and two fellow workers were kidnapped and later executed by
Peter Schickele (b. 1935) grew up in Ames, Iowa, Washington, DC, and Fargo, North Dakota. As a teenager, he studied and emulated Spike Jones' performances. Originally a clarinetist, urgency dictated that he become Fargo's only bassoonist; he went on to be Swathmore's only music major. He completed his schooling with an M.S. from The Juilliard School of Music, where he studied under Vincent Persichetti and William Bergsma. Besides performing and explaining away the music of P.D.Q. Bach, Prof. Schickele has written and arranged for classical, jazz, rock, and folk ensembles, providing music for concerts, films, television, radio, and the stage. (see P.D.Q. Bach)
William Schuman (1910 - 1992) was a native of New York, where he attended public schools and formed a jazz ensemble in high school. He completed his studies at Malkin Conservatory in New York, Teachers College of Columbia University, and at the Mozarteum Academy in Salzburg, Austria. He became music instructor at Sara Lawrence College and later was appointed president of the Juilliard School of Music. His compositions include 10 symphonies, numerous orchestral and chamber pieces, band works, cantatas, an opera, ballet music, piano pieces, and music for films. He was the first person to win the Pulitzer Prize in composition for his 1943 work Secular Cantata No. 2. Although he considered himself a composer first, Schuman championed American music, composers, and performers as an educator and administrator. He died at the age of 81, following hip surgery.
Be Glad Then, America
This composition is the first movement of Schuman’s New England Tryptych, originally written for orchestra in 1956 and based on hymns by William Billings. The other works of the Tryptych are When Jesus Wept and Chester. The composer wrote the following program note:
William Billings (1746 - 1800) is a major figure in the history of American music. The works of this dynamic composer capture the spirit of sinewy ruggedness, deep religiosity, and patriotic fervor that we associate with the Revolutionary period. Despite the undeniable crudities and technical shortcomings of his music, its appeal even today, is forceful and moving. I am not alone among American composers who feel an identity with Billings, and it is this sense of identity that accounts for my use of his music as a point of departure. These pieces do not constitute a “fantasy” on themes of Billings, nor “variations” on his themes, but rather a fusion of styles and musical language.
Billings’ text for this anthem includes the following lines:Yea, the Lord will answer Be glad then, America,
And say unto his people — behold! Shout and rejoice.
I will send you corn and wine Fear not O land,
and oil Be glad and rejoice.
And ye shall be satisfied therewith. Hallelujah!
A timpani solo begins the short introduction, which is developed predominantly in the strings. This music is suggestive of the “Hallelujah” heard at the end of the piece. Trombones and trumpets begin the main section, a free and varied setting of the words “Be Glad Then, America, Shout and Rejoice.” The timpani, again solo, leads to a middle fugal section stemming from the words “And Ye Shall Be Satisfied.” The music gains momentum, and combined themes lead to a climax. There follows a free adaptation of the “Hallelujah” music with which Billings concludes his original choral piece and a final reference to the “Shout and Rejoice” music.
Chester - Overture for Band
The tune on which this composition is based was born during the American Revolution, appearing in 1778 in a book of tunes and anthems composed by William Billings (1746 - 1800). It was subsequently adopted by the Continental Army and sung around campfires or played by fifers on the march. The music and words expressed the burning desire for freedom which sustained the colonists through the difficult years of the Revolution:
Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And Slav'ry clank her galling chains,
We fear them not, We trust in God,
New England's God forever reigns.
The Foe comes on with haughty stride
Our Troops advance with martial noise
Their Vet'rans flee, before our Youth
And Gen'rals yield to beardless Boys.
William Schuman (1910 - 1992), a native New Yorker, originally wrote Chester as the third movement of the New England Triptych. He developed and extended the orchestral version, making Chester into an overture for band. In the first section, Schuman introduces the tune first in the woodwinds and then in the brasses. In the next section, the melody is given a more contemporary setting with mid-twentieth century rhythmic and harmonic devices utilized to sustain interest. The closing section brings back the hymn-like treatment of the theme and the work is brought to a dramatic close.
When Jesus wept the falling tear
In mercy flowed beyond all bound;
When Jesus groaned, a trembling fear
Seized all the guilty world around.
The setting of the above text is in the form of a round by the American composer William Billings (1746 - 1800) and it is used in its original form. This early composer wrote simple sturdy tunes that were popular with the colonists, reflecting the ruggedness, deep religiosity, and patriotic fervor often associated with the Revolutionary period. This work was transcribed for band by William Schuman from his New England Triptych and forms the central prelude to Chester, interpreted from Billings' hymn and marching song of the same name. The composition calls for controlled, sensitive, legato playing from the ensemble. The solo parts, given to the euphonium and trumpet, are demanding in range, color, and intonation.
Featuring the Foothill Saxophone Quartet, this composition brings back the sound of the big bands of the ‘40s. After a brief introduction from the full band, the sweet sounds of the saxophones sing out an easy swing dance melody. It isn’t hard to imagine the elegance of a large ballroom and your sweetheart in your arms. A reprise of the introductory melody completes this trip down memory lane.
Nancy Heitman Seward was born in Oklahoma in August 1930 and grew up in Lincoln, Illinois. She earned her BME degree (cum laude) from Central Methodist College in 1952. She met her husband Ken while playing clarinet in the CMC Band. Seward taught music in the elementary and secondary schools in Kansas and Missouri and at her alma mater. She has taken graduate courses at the University of Michigan and the University of Missouri. Now retired from teaching, she remains active as a composer and adjudicator. Honored by Central Methodist College with their Distinguished Alumni Award, she has also received the Hall of Fame Award from the Missouri Bandmasters Association. While her works appeal to a wide variety of groups, her composition goal has been to improve the repertoire available to school bands.
Beneath The Shining Skies
O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies,
May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise,
To keep thee steadfast through the years,
From East to Western Sea,
Our own beloved native land!
Our True North, strong and free!
This stanza from the Canadian National Anthem gave rise to the title and subject of this composition, which was commissioned in 1995 by Keith and Marilyn Mann of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, and dedicated to their parents. The lively melody salutes the settlers of that great country and pays homage to their heritage with musical references to La Marseillaise and Rule Britannia. A chorus of O Canada brings this majestic work to a conclusion.
Robert Sheldon (b. February 3, 1954) has taught instrumental music in the Florida and Illinois public schools. He received the Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Miami and the Master of Fine Arts in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Florida. He served on the faculty of Florida State University and directed the Marching Chiefs band comprised of over 300 students. Sheldon has composed over 150 works for winds and has been honored by the American School Band Directors Association and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. His first compositions were for his high school jazz band when he was in 10th grade. Sheldon maintains an active schedule of conducting and composing in his role as Concert Band Editor for the Alfred Publishing Company. He is an internationally recognized clinician. He recognizes Clifton Williams and Alfred Reed among his most influential composition teachers. Of his compositions, Sheldon says “I would like to think that the music is a travel adventure of a sort, and that anyone who hears the music will in some way be transported or changed by it.”
Metroplex: Three Postcards from Manhattan
Metroplex was the second commission for Robert Sheldon by the Normal Community West High School Band of Normal Illinois for performance at the school’s Spring 2005 performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The composer described the three “postcards” of the work:
“A musical portrait of Manhattan’s cityscape, Metroplex opens with a vision of the New York City skyline, evoking looming buildings and concrete canyons. From there, the melody travels to the heart of an urban jazz scene, characteristic of the city’s famous night clubs. Finally, the piece takes us on a wild taxi ride through the heavy traffic of a bustling metropolis. The skyline is seen once more as we leave Manhattan, hopefully to return again soon.”
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 - 1975) studied at the Leningrad Conservatory under Glazunov, among others. International fame came to Shostakovich at the age of nineteen when his powerful and mature First Symphony was performed in Leningrad, and later in Moscow. Following this success, his next works were disappointing and attacked by the Soviet press as a product of “bourgeois decadence.” Like many Soviet composers, Shostakovich found himself constantly under pressure from restrictions imposed by the Soviet musical world with its concern for the moral and social, rather than the purely aesthetic aspects of music. The musical style of Shostakovich remains unbalanced with works containing crude parodies, programmatic devices, and conventional simplicity countered by works of originality, distinction, and significance.
As the name implies, Burlesque is a light and playful work based on themes from the first movement of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9. Shostakovich often faced criticism for his work, despite its greatness. Usually, it was his government that did not feel the music appropriate to the occasion or the intended message. The Symphony No. 9 was first performed in Leningrad on November 3, 1945. Coming at the end of the World War, the idea that it was short, lightweight and even comic was greeted with outrage. It wasn't until his Tenth Symphony that Shostakovich was able to regain his regard with his audience. The Burlesque has been called Haydnesque; as such, we can enjoy its delightful interchanges.Native Leningrad, the music was subsequently arranged for Russian bands by M. Vakhutinsky. In 1979, the work became available in the US and both H. Robert Reynolds and Frank Erickson developed arrangements for modern concert bands. It is the latter’s product that is performed today. Hold on to your seat as we celebrate the composer’s 100th birthday.
Symphony No. 5, Finale
Completed in 1937, this symphony is commonly subtitled A Soviet artist’s reply to just criticism after Stalin’s denouncement of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of Mtensk for its degenerate and modernist tendencies. Any kind of adventurous music was banned. Shostakovich became a “marked man” and his Mahleresque Fourth Symphony was withdrawn not long after its premiere. The Fifth Symphony follows the outline of a traditional symphony, providing safe music, following old formulas. It was a rousing success. Shostakovich reportedly said that “The idea behind my symphony is the making of a man. I saw him, with all his experience, at the centre of the work, which is lyrical from beginning to end. The Finale brings an optimistic solution to the tragic parts of the first movement.” In his memoirs, smuggled from Russia after his death, he wrote:
What exultation could there be? I think it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth. The rejoicing is forced, created under threat. . . It’s as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying ‘Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing,’ and you rise, shaky, and go marching off, muttering, ‘Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.’ What kind of apotheosis is that? You have to be a complete oaf not to hear that.
Symphony No. 9, Finale
The Ninth Symphony is Shostakovich’s shortest. Written in 1944-5, it was supposed to be a celebration of victory in war, personal glorification of Stalin, and the culmination of the symphonic trilogy begun in 1941 with the Leningrad and followed two years later by the Eighth. Records show that composition began in this manner, but the work that debuted after the end of the war was completely different. Characterized by the public as “silly and gay,” the Ninth enraged Stalin for its lack of chorus, soloists, apotheosis, or dedication. Shostakovich openly defended it as a rejoicing in the end of the war. Secretly, he was criticizing Stalin and the establishment over the toll taken by the war and the renewed repression of the people by their own rulers. Eventually, the frivolity of the Ninth and its offense to Stalin would weigh against Shostakovich in the vicious government crackdown in 1948. Fortunately for Shostakovich, the interpretation of music has more leeway than that of the printed word. The Ninth Symphony is not frivolous, but a brilliant work with crisp articulation, transparent scoring, and the near absence of dissonance. The Finale begins with an unusual bassoon solo. Various sections of the ensemble take turns with the staccato theme. The simple rhythms grow in tempo and intensity until the climatic ending.
Jean Sibelius, born Johan Julius Christian Sibelius (December 8, 1865, Hämeenlinna, Finland - September 20, 1957, Järvenpää, Finland) was a Finnish composer whose works helped his people gain a national identity. He grew up at a time that his country was fighting for its independence from Russia. He learned to play the piano from his mother and aunt, switching to violin when he was 15. In 1884, he taught himself music theory from Johann Christian Lobe’s composition book. After high school, he began to study law, but soon realized he was more interested in music; he studied at the Helsinki Music Institute (now the Sibelius Academy) from 1885 to 1889. Sibelius pursued his studies in Berlin (1889-90) and Vienna (1890-91). He came to realize that he could not commit himself to being a virtuoso violinist and he directed his efforts to composing. His love of nature and of Finnish mythology, particularly the Kalevala, would influence his style. En Saga (fairy tale) and the Lemminkäinen and Karelia Suites led up to Finlandia, the best known of his compositions and a spearhead of the growing nationalism movement. Besides these tone poems, Sibelius is noted for his Violin Concerto and his 7 symphonies. His creativity was prolific up to his tone poem Tapiola (1926) and The Tempest suites (1927). Although he lived for another 30 years, he did not publish any further works of note.
Finale from Finlandia
Finland was a part of the Swedish Empire for centuries before Russia invaded Finland in 1808, establishing it as a Grand Duchy a year later. In the late 19th Century, Finnish nationalism began to rise. Tsar Nicholas II worked to defeat this trend, ultimately issuing a manifesto in 1899 that said he had the power to make laws for Finland. Jean Sibelius was one of Finland’s artists who supported the nationalism movement. In 1899, Sibelius’ “Press Celebrations Music” suite, a tableau of Finnish history, was ostensibly about raising funds for newspapers. The seventh movement was called Finland Awakes. This movement evoked strong feelings within the Finnish population and it had to be performed under differing titles (e.g., Happy Feelings at the Awakening of Finnish Spring, A Scandinavian Choral March) to avoid censorship. With some revisions, Finlandia premiered in Helsinki on July 2, 1900. This tone poem begins in a solemn and brooding mood reminiscent of Russia’s oppression. Becoming more energetic, the nationalism of the people begins to emerge. A passionate hymn section provides strength and hope for the struggle. The rousing ending rallies support for independence.
The hymn section is only surpassed by the Finnish national anthem Maamme
(Our Land) in the hearts of the Finnish people. Sibelius did not
provide lyrics to the hymn. In 1941, Veikko Antero Koskenniemi wrote
lyrics (the English translation by Keith Bosley is given below) which
Sibelius accepted as the official libretto in 1942.
thy daylight now is dawning,
the threat of night has now been driven away.
The skylark calls across the light of morning,
the blue of heaven lets it have its way,
and now the day the powers of night is scorning:
thy daylight dawns, O Finland of ours!
|Finland, arise, and
raise towards the highest
thy head now crowned with mighty memory.
Finland, arise, for to the world thou criest
that thou hast thrown off thy slavery,
beneath oppression's yoke thou never liest.
Thy morning's come, O Finland of ours!
The Peanut Vendor
El Manicero (The Peanut Vendor) is based on a street seller’s call “Ma-Ni!” (Peanuts!) and was written by the young Havana pianist Moisés Simóns in 1928. The song had been popular in Cuba for several years when Herbert Marks, son of sheet music publisher E.B. Marks, heard it and convinced his father to release it with English lyrics by Louis Rittenberg. Cuban band leader Don Azpiazu then recorded it as a rhumba with different lyrics written by his sister-in-law, Marion Sunshine, and Wolfe Gilbert. When Azpiazu debuted his band in New York in 1931, the song and the Latin sound were wildly successful novelties to American audiences. Azpiazu's recording sold over one million copies in under two years. Hollywood jumped on the bandwagon and put out one of the earliest musicals, Cuban Love Song, featuring a rendition by Latin interpreter Lawrence Tibbett. Judy Garland performed the song in 1954 in the film A Star is Born. The success of The Peanut Vendor led a wave of Latin music into America. Within a year of its publication, E.B. Marks listed over 600 Latin songs, and Latin bands were prominently featured in films, radio, and live performances.
Claude T. Smith (1932 - 1987) was born in Monroe City, Missouri. He started his musical career playing trumpet in the fifth grade. He attended Central Methodist College until he was drafted into the Army during the Korean Conflict. Unable to find a position with the service bands as a trumpeter, he auditioned on the French Horn and won a position with the 371st Army Band. Smith finished his undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. He taught instrumental music in Nebraska and Missouri junior and senior high schools, later teaching composition and conducting the orchestra at Southwest Missouri State University. In 1978, Smith gave up teaching to serve as a full-time composer and consultant for Wingert-Jones Music Company and Jenson Publishing Company. During his career, he composed over 120 works for band, chorus, orchestra, and small ensembles. Active as a clinician and guest conductor, he received numerous awards and honors, including election to the presidency of the Missouri Music Educators Association. His composition Flight has been adopted as the “Official March” of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.
A Rhapsody on Christmas CarolsCommissioned for and premiered by the U.S. Marine Band in 1985, A Rhapsody on Christmas Carols presents a medley of popular sacred tunes highlighting the virtuosity of that band. The eight carols are skillfully passed from the full ensemble to instrument sections, with many solo opportunities. The medley includes Good Christian Men, Rejoice · O Come, O Come, Emmanuel · We Three Kings · What Child Is This · Joy to the World · Away in a Manger · Deck the Halls and Angels We Have Heard on High.
Eternal Father, Strong to Save
Rich in harmony, dynamics, and thematic interplay, this piece is based on the missionary hymn of the same name composed in 1860 by William Whiting, which was adopted as the official hymn of the U.S. Navy. This work opens with a brilliant fanfare. The melody of the hymn then appears in a fugue developed by the woodwinds. The brass echo the fugue until the melody once again appears played by the choir of French Horns. The ensemble joins in for a finale reminiscent of the introductory fanfare.
Fantasia for Alto Saxophone
The Fantasia for Alto Saxophone was written in 1983 for saxophonist Dale Underwood and it is dedicated to the U.S. Navy Band, to which Underwood was assigned at the time. Dale Underwood has been a leader and driving force in developing the saxophone as a “classical” instrument. He is a member of the faculties of George Mason University and the University of Maryland. Claude T. Smith’s Fantasia is technically demanding for the soloist. It features opportunities for displays of both technique and tonality. An extensive cadenza displays the full skill of the performer and range of expression available from the instrument.
The first of three movements of this suite is a spirited Tarantella with the woodwinds supporting the melody against the punctuated rhythms of the brass and percussion sections. The Nocturne opens with a fragment of the main theme traded between solo instruments in the ensemble; it grows in strength and vigor before returning to a placid mood. The vigorous Rondo plays upon a theme that appears again and again against contrasting melodies.
Symphony No. 1 for Band
III. Lyric Song
The first movement, Flourish, begins with a fanfare-like sound in the allegretto moderato tempo. The brilliance of the tutti sound is pulsed with strong rhythmic accents. The 6/8 March opens with solo bassoons playing the principal march tune. Following a trumpet and drum duet, the march develops a vigorous and pulsating pace of stirring proportions. Large and sonorous chords open the Lyric Song movement. The melodic material is given a variety of scorings, including solos and a brass treatment in contrapuntal style. The Toccata is a movement of energy and drive which displays the technique of the band. This movement includes a fugal section for woodwinds and percussion. The work is brought to a thrilling close with the same chords with which the first movement opened. The Symphony was commissioned by Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma national honorary band fraternity and sorority, respectively, and first performed in 1977.
Born October 24, 1958 in Daleville, AL, Robert W. Smith is one of the most popular and prolific composers of concert band and orchestral music. He has over 600 publications in print. He received a Bachelor of Music Education from Troy University and a Masters in Music and Media Writing & Production from the University of Miami, where he studied under the legendary composer Alfred Reed. He is currently teaching in the Music Industry program at Troy University in Troy, AL. Smith’s Symphony #1 (The Divine Comedy), #2 (The Odyssey), and #3 (Don Quixote) have received much acclaim. His music has been performed at a wide variety of venues from schools to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Olympic ceremonies in Japan, and Opening Day at Dodger Stadium.
Early in the morning of August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast states, with the city of New Orleans experiencing major destruction. The most destructive storm in United States history had sustained winds of 120 MPH and a water surge over 27 feet. Over 80% of the city was under water and more than 1 million people along the coast were displaced. An estimated 1,800 people lost their lives. The U. S. Marine Corps Band, New Orleans, commissioned Robert W. Smith to compose a piece in honor of the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the re-birth of the city of New Orleans. Smith’s son, Kurtis, and his family lived in a suburb of New Orleans and experienced the storm and participated in the relief efforts that followed. Promising Skies begins with the “Blue Sky” jazz theme from a solo trumpet, followed by a trombone, tuba, and snare drum, symbolizing the musical heritage of this historic city. The whole ensemble joins to enjoy the effervescent life of the city. Tones of the “Threatening Sky” signal the approach of the storm and give way to the loud and percussive nature of the “Raging Sky.” As the storm moves on, “Dawn of a New Sky” and “A City Reborn” signal the city’s renewal of its musical treasures.
James Sochinski has written for nearly every instrumental medium, including compositions and arrangements for the Charlotte Symphony, the Fresno Wind Orchestra, and Banda de Musica da Guarda Nacional Republicana (Portugal). He spent three years as Staff Arranger for the U.S. Army Field Band, Washington, D.C. He has written for several university bands and has over 200 special arrangements and compositions for college and university ensembles to his credit. Dr. Sochinski served as Director of Bands at Virginia Tech for 13 years; he was appointed Director of Virginia Tech's Center for Digital Music in the fall of 1991. He teaches music theory at both the undergraduate and graduate level and colloquia in the University Honors College. Additionally, he serves as arranger for Virginia Tech's 330-member “Marching Virginians.”
Suite from The Legend of Alcobaca
I. Prelude - Fourteenth-century Portugal is the setting for one of the greatest of the tragic love stories. Dom Pedro, son of Alfonso IV and heir to the throne, dutifully was betrothed to the Infanta Constanza of Aragon in 1340 in a politically-arranged marriage. The relationship languished when Pedro was taken with the beautiful Ines de Castro, one of the Infanta's ladies-in-waiting. Pedro and soon became lovers, parents, and adoring soul mates; they became inseparable as well.
II. Ines at Santa Clara - The scandal at court was too much for the king and kingdom; Alfonso banished Ines to Spain. But Dom Pedro persisted, installing his lovely Ines and their children in the convent of Santa Clara near Coimbra. For some ten years, Pedro and Ines maintained their extraordinary and blissful relationship, producing more children and growing more hopelessly in love all the while. Alfonso, torn between his son's happiness and the political realities of the time, finally yielded to his advisors and allowed Ines and her children to be brutally stabbed to death on January 7, 1355.
III. Dom Pedro's Revenge - Pedro's grief was profound and consuming. Swearing revenge, he raised an army and led a bloody rebellion against his father. The battles raged for several months but Dom Pedro was able to gain neither victory nor revenge. In his terms of surrender, it was required that the three assassins be pardoned. Alfonso died soon after, and the prince ascended to the throne as Pedro I. His first act as monarch was to extradite the assassins and order their torture and the most cruel executions possible.
IV. Coronation of the Dead Queen - Still obsessed with grief and a yearning for his dead Ines, Pedro revealed that he and Ines had been secretly married and staged the coronation his queen never had. Ines' body was exhumed, dressed in royal robes, and carried in procession some fifty miles to Alcobaca. Pedro ordered thousands of subjects to line the entire length of the road, each bearing a lighted candle. At Alcobaca, the royal crown was placed upon Ines' head and a magnificent coronation was staged for the "Dead Queen."
V. Postlude - Pedro subsequently commissioned two splendid sarcophagi and ordered their placement in the transept of Alcobaca. Ines was buried to the left, and Dom Pedro was interred on the right in 1367. At Dom Pedro's further command, the tombs were arranged to face one another so that on the day of resurrection, he might finally rise and gaze once again upon his beloved Ines.The final ending depicts the tragedy and sadness of the story.
The man who would become known as “The March King” was born in Washington D.C. on November 6, 1854 to a Portuguese father, who earlier that year had enlisted in the Marine Band, and a German mother. John Philip Sousa began formal musical instruction at the age of 6 and appeared as a violin soloist at the age of 11. Two years later, he began his career in the U.S. Marine Band, serving as an apprentice “boy” to receive instruction “in the trade or mystery of a musician.” He became leader of the Marine Band in 1880 and served in that position until 1892, when he resigned to organize a band of his own. Along with his ability to organize and conduct superb musicians, Sousa developed a distinct flair for writing marches. He was a prolific composer who found themes for his compositions in his country’s history, dedication events, military groups, and even newspaper contests. Before his death at the age of 78, Sousa had composed 136 marches, 15 operettas, 70 songs, 11 waltzes, and a wide variety of incidental works. His most famous march, The Stars and Stripes Forever, has been designated as the official march of the United States.
Bullets and Bayonets
Sousa marches often bear a dedication to people, places, or events. This march is no exception and bears the dedication "To the officers and men of the U.S. Infantry." When written in 1918, the subjects of the title, Bullets and Bayonets, were a frightening reality to his soldier-countrymen then engaged in the struggle raging on the western front in World War I. The music, however, does not seem to generate a military posture. Frederick Fennell's editing has preserved the scoring of the original, with its musical ideas, deceivingly simple yet solid and immediately rewarding to the performer and listener. Sousa's fondness for the sound of drum sticks "on the hoop" of wooden snare and field drums is preserved within the trio.
George Washington Bicentennial March
To commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of America’s first president, the Bicentennial Commission held a gala celebration in the nation’s capital on February 22, 1932. John Philip Sousa wrote this march in 1930 at the Commission’s request to mark the event. In one of his last public appearances before his death, Sousa conducted the combined bands of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps at the celebration.
Hands Across The Sea March
This march was composed in 1899 and premiered at the Philadelphia Academy of Music that same year. The origin of the title is uncertain. It is certainly representative of the good will that the Sousa Band evoked on its multiple European and World tours. Sousa biographer Paul Bierley believes that Sousa discussed the justification of the Spanish-American War in a conversation using John Hookham Frere’s line “A sudden thought strikes me -- let us swear an eternal friendship.” The vision of Hands Across The Sea came to Sousa as an enactment of that concept.
The Black Horse Troop
John Philip Sousa had a special affinity for horses, but had to give up riding after breaking his neck in a fall from a high-spirited stallion in 1921. Premiered October 17, 1925, by the Sousa Band, this piece stands with Riders for the Flag and Sabre and Spurs as one of his outstanding “equestrian” marches. The march conveys the solid dignity of the riders and their black steeds moving at a precise and purposeful gait. Editor for this march and world famous conductor, Frederick Fennell, wrote of his experience attending the premier:
“I heard the first performance of John Philip Sousa's The Black Horse Troop when I was eleven years old. My father had taken me to a concert by Sousa's Band at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio. At the end of the concert Sousa turned and faced the audience. This was obviously a signal, for the whole of Troop A of the Ohio National Guard Cavalry — The Black Horse Troop — walked their horses up the aisles and onto the stage. Standing at attention behind the Band, they faced the audience as Sousa led his musicians in the first performance of the march. Their reception as they made their way to the stage was wild enough, but the tumultuous applause for all at the conclusion of The Black Horse Troop was like nothing I had ever heard. It was probably Sousa's 125th march.”
The Free Lance March
People are usually aware of Sousa’s prodigious creation of marches, but they are generally unaware of the vast array of suites, songs, waltzes, humoresques, and arrangements he produced. The Free Lance was one of 15 operettas. The title comes from Middle Age knights with lances who were independent and could choose for whom they would work. First produced in 1905, the story does stretch belief. The bankrupt kingdoms of Braggadocia and Graftiana, each seeking the other kingdoms wealth, sought a marriage of their daughter and son, respectively. The Prince and Princess, unhappy with the proposed marriage, run away independently. The kingdoms force Griselda, a goose girl, to impersonate the Princess. A goatherd, Sigmund, would take the Prince’s place in the ceremony. Since these two happen to be already husband and wife, they see no problem in the arrangement. After the ceremony, each country discovers the poverty of the other and war is declared. Meanwhile, the real Prince and Princess meet each other, disguised as peasants, and fall in love. Sigmund arranges to hire himself out to each country as a “free lance” soldier. He cleverly manipulates the battle so that neither side can win and a truce is called. He demands a ransom from each country, which cannot be met, so he proclaims himself as ruler of both countries. The true Prince and Princess are too much in love to care about ruling. In 1906, Sousa utilized the song On to Victory as the central theme for The Free Lance March, incorporating many other musical motifs from the operetta. This was the only march Sousa composed that year, because he devoted significant time and effort into campaigning for composers’ royalties on recordings. This effort formed a foundation for our current copyright laws.
The Glory of the Yankee Navy
Noted Sousa historian Paul Bierley wrote about this march composed in
The musical comedy “The Yankee Girl” was in need of a spirited march, so Sousa was prevailed upon to provide one. The march, one of Sousa's most interesting musically, was dedicated to the star of the show, Blanche Ring. Lyrics were provided by Kenneth S. Clark. The title underwent a process of evolution. The earliest known manuscript was labeled Uncle Sam’s Navy. Prior to the opening, newspapers referred to the march as The Honor of the Yankee Navy.
The Minnesota March
Although Sousa wrote more than 150 marches, only four have been
expressly written for universities: Marquette (1924), Minnesota (1927),
Nebraska (1928), and Illinois (1929). University of Minnesota band
director Michael Jalma longed for a new fight song and suggested that
university officials meet with the noted bandmaster when he was
scheduled to perform a concert in Minneapolis. A committee of university
officials was cordially received by Sousa and he readily agreed to their
request. Sousa remarked that the Indian legendry of Minnesota had
appealed to him. The march was completed a year later, with less native
American content than Sousa had anticipated. Sousa chose to premier the
march at the 1927 State Fair rather than at the University, causing hard
feelings between those parties.
The Rifle Regiment March
This march derives its title from The Third Infantry, known also as "The Old Guard." Written in 1886, it is one of many that Sousa sold for $35 a title, a small fraction of the proceeds they earned publisher Harry Coleman. One of Sousa's finest regimental marches, it is unusual in its structure for its extended introduction that is repeated and a break-strain that is similarly lengthy and equally unique. The march possesses the solid cadence, needed to move large regiments at parade reviews, with undergirding simple tunes with a pace and spirit that emote pride and purpose in the occasion.
Born in London in 1951, Philip Sparke went on to study composition, trumpet, and piano at the Royal College of Music, where he earned an Associate degree. His participation in wind band at the College, together with a brass band that he formed, piqued his interest in wind music and resulted in his composition of several works for both ensembles. Interest in his first published works led to his receiving several commissions, including The Land of the Long White Cloud written for the Centennial Brass Band Championships in New Zealand. He has written for brass band championships in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Holland, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1997, his Dance Movements, commissioned by the U.S. Air Force Band, won the prestigious Sudler Prize.
Celebration was commissioned by the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra and was premiered by them on June 11, 1992. The composer commented:
The work celebrates two things, firstly the incredible virtuosity of the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra and secondly, and more generally, optimism of the human spirit; and perhaps, more specifically, what is to me the most important aspect of any band music -- the glorious results that can be achieved when musicians play together towards a common goal, a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Opening with a majestic brass fanfare, Celebration makes its proclamation of optimism. The woodwinds add rapid punctuations to the theme. A calm theme conveys peace and security, helping to demonstrate the range of technique and dynamics of the ensemble. A trumpet flourish changes the mood and leads to the Presto theme, which is derived from the opening fanfare and running passages in the woodwinds. Themes are traded back and forth between the sections. Energy abounds throughout. The brass reintroduce the chordal fanfare against the main woodwind theme. Gaining momentum, the work concludes with a series of strident chords.
Four Norfolk Dances
The composer has offered the following notes about his composition:
Four Norfolk Dances was commissioned by the South Norfolk Youth Symphonic Band, who gave the first performance on 15th September 2001. Norfolk is one of the most beautiful counties in England, famous for its charming villages and boundless broads, a popular centre for sailing holidays. It is also the home of one of the best known of all British composers, Sir Malcolm Arnold. The date of the premiere of this piece was to fall close to his 80th birthday, so I decided to write something of a birthday tribute.
Some of Arnold’s best-loved orchestral works are his sets of dances: there are two sets of English Dances, Four Scottish Dances, Four Cornish Dances etc., most of which have been arranged for concert band at one time or another. I thought it would be appropriate for the concert band to have its own set of dances and wrote Four Norfolk Dances very much in the style of Arnold’s suites.
The four movements are each named after a village in South Norfolk that has a particular association with the band. Pulham Prelude is robust in nature and combines strong fanfare figures with a burlesque dance. Diss Dance is a charming waltz, which contrasts solo passages with the full band. Lopham Lament features a mournful oboe solo and a passionate climax for the whole band. Garboldisham Jig combines a lively jig with a graceful chorale tune.
Originally written on a commission from the River City Brass Band of
Pittsburgh, PA, the 1992 wind band transcription was commissioned for
the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. The score offers the following program
It was inspired by frequent visits by the composer to Mayrhofen in the Austrian Tyrol. On Sunday mornings the village is quiet and peaceful, the only sound being the rhythmic tolling of the church bell. The mountain peak, behind the village, is a gentle three-hour walk. As the climber ascends, the broad panorama of the Ziller Valley is glimpsed through the trees. A sudden fresh breeze catches the climber by surprise, rustling a nearby branch. A few steps further and we’re above the tree line and the full beauty of the surrounding scenery is revealed. After a short rest, the climber starts down again, eventually returning to the village and the echoes of the church bell.
Scenes from a Comedy
The composer did not intend a specific story behind a theatrical presentation, but considered major scenes from an imaginary pantomime in the Italian Commedia dell’Arte tradition. A short and engaging overture is followed by the introduction of a knavish Harlequin, a comic character usually represented in diamond-patterned multicolored tights, wearing a black mask. A solo clarinet represents his part in a tender waltz shared with his sweetheart Columbine, a beautiful servant girl, performed by the solo flute. The presentation finishes with a vibrant peasants’ dance with staccato passages characteristic of the fast footwork and swirling skirts of the dancers.
Suite from Hymn Of The Highlands
The Hymn Of The Highlands was commissioned for the 2002 European Brass Band Championships Gala Concert in Brussels. The full suite comprised seven movements, all named after locations in the Scottish Highlands. The composer transcribed three of those movements judged suitable for performance by a concert band. His description of these movements follows:
Ardross Castle, (named after a small village near Ardross in Easter Ross, just north of the Cromarty Firth) starts with solos from clarinet and bassoon (or euphonium) before the bagpipe tune is introduced. A faster central section uses the opening material in a different guise but the movement ends slowly. Alladale, (the river Alladale is a tributary of the Carron, which leads out into the Dornoch Firth on the east coast) is a saxophone trio with an accompaniment featuring the percussion. This leads to the finale, Dundonnell, (named after a charming village at the head of Little Loch Broom which leads out to the ocean near Summer Isles) which starts in martial mood but soon breaks out into a wild presto. Eventually the bagpipe tune from the first movement returns before the presto crashes to a close.
Sunrise at Angel's Gate
Sunrise at Angel’s Gate was commissioned by Colonel Finley Hamilton, conductor of the United States Army Field Band, and first performed by that band in March 2001. Philip Sparke provided the following program note:
“In October 1999, I was privileged to be invited to Flagstaff, Arizona, to take part in the centenary celebrations of Northern Arizona University. The University is two hours drive from the Grand Canyon, so a visit was compulsory!
“It’s really not possible to describe this amazing natural phenomenon – it’s just too big. You can’t even photograph it effectively but it undoubtedly leaves a lasting impression on anyone who visits it.
“Sunrise and sunset are the best times to view the Canyon, as a sun low in the sky casts shadows that give depth and form to the vast panorama. Angel’s Gate is one of the many named rock formations on the northern side of the Canyon and in this piece, I have tried to depict the sights and sounds of dawn there, birdsong in the early morning sky and the gradual revelation of the Canyon itself as sunlight reaches into its rocky depths.
“The faster central section depicts the arrival of the tourist buses, which run back and forth along the Southern Rim, and towards the end of the piece, to the sound of a tolling bell, we are reminded of the dangers that the beauty of the Grand Canyon so cleverly hides.”
To A New Dawn
The title of this work signifies the emergence of the Third Millennium, for which it was commissioned by the United States Continental Army Band. The composer set out to convey the hope and challenges of the new century while reflecting back on the experiences from the last one. The music starts with a brisk tempo and an air of expectation. A bright future is conveyed by a light trumpet solo and a playful, driving woodwind rhythm. The mood turns reflective as memories of the past are recalled. Both hope and sorrow are present as a solo trumpet plays a requiem for the past. The spirit gradually picks up to a reprise of the introductory theme as we learn from the past and look forward to the opportunities of the future.
Gay Holmes Spears earned her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Master of Music at Arkansas State University, and Doctor of Musical Arts at Memphis State University. As the composer of numerous published and unpublished works for symphonic band, piano, chamber ensembles, and voices, she has earned several awards for her compositions. These include the 1997 Tennessee Composer of the Year Award, an Arkansas Arts Council Fellowship, and consecutive ASCAP awards. Spears resides in the St. Louis, Missouri area, where she is a free-lance composer/keyboardist, full-time mom, and an active part of her church's music program.
Reflections on “Wondrous Love”
What wondrous love is this, oh! my soul! oh! my
What wondrous love is this, oh! my soul!
What wondrous love is this!
That caused the Lord of bliss,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
The hymn tune Wondrous Love was popular in Appalachia and the southern part of the United States. The tune was first published in 1853 in William Walker’s “Southern Harmony.” James Christopher is credited as the composer. This setting of the hymn tune is cast in several sections, utilizing the contrasting timbres of the ensemble’s sections. The initial presentation of the hymn is antiphonal, starting with the brass and moving into the woodwinds. The composition explores many solo wind colors over a repeating bass line. An alternation of simple and compound meters is used to restate the first part of the hymn. A rousing climax fades to a quiet resolution with the oboe and basses.
Jack Stamp (b. 1954) is Professor of Music and Conductor of Bands at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), where he teaches courses in undergraduate and graduate conducting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Music Education degree from IUP, a Master’s in Percussion Performance from East Carolina University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting from Michigan State University. Dr. Stamp’s primary composition teachers have been Robert Washburn and Fisher Tull. He has studied with American composers David Diamond and Joan Tower and with conductor Eugene Corporon. In 2000, he was inducted into the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. The Keystone Wind Ensemble, which he founded and conducts, has produced several recordings on the Citadel label. He is active as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and composer throughout North America and Great Britain.
In 1953, the national chapters of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma, the honorary band fraternity and sorority, respectively, initiated a joint project for commissioning music requiring the highest technical proficiency and musicality with the goals of enhancing the available band literature and improving the performance level of bands. Thirty one works have been commissioned through 2015. Bandancing was commissioned in 2003 and was dedicated to composer Norman Dello Joio in celebration of his 90th birthday. Jack Stamp provided some background on this five-movement suite of American dances.
“In writing Bandancing, I wanted to fuse elements of popular dance to my own harmonic style-to write a ‘Suite of New American Dances.’ The first movement, City Shuffle, is a type of funk with frequent meter changes. I intended to write a 12-note tango bass line for the second movement, but only got ten notes out of it. The performance should be sultry and remind the listener of the dancer in the red dress in ‘Lord of the Dance.’ The waltz has been a dance for 300 years or more. As a drummer, I loved playing jazz waltzes. The third movement is a jazz waltz featuring a mini-fugue. The fourth movement, Slow Dance, is more of a ballad than a dance and has some of the most poignant harmony found in the entire work. Last Dance includes a samba and a very difficult fugue. It is cyclic, as the theme from the first movement returns.”
Fanfare for a New EraThis fanfare bears the dedication “with congratulations to Lt. Col. Lowell E. Graham” and was written as a celebration to Lt. Col. Graham’s appointment as Commander of the United States Air Force Band, a position he served from 1995 to 2002. Composer Jack Stamp has commented “As I envisioned the piece, I knew that I heard something energetic and vibrant, highlighting the talents of this fine ensemble . . .” The trumpets establish a bold theme that gets enriched as other sections enter and expand and develop the work with elements of chorale, fugue, minimalism, and augmentation. Throughout, the brisk tempo conveys a sense of determination and optimism for what the future holds.
This miniature fanfare was the first Stamp wrote (free of charge) for concert band and its success launched him to a new level of fame. This brisk and energetic fanfare is unique in that it features the full wind band, rather than just the more traditional brass and percussion sections. This instrumentation was the outcome of a request from Eugene Corporon, one of Stamp’s conducting instructors at Michigan State University, who asked for a piece that would be a good opener for the entire band at the 1991 C.B.D.N.A. conference. The word Gavorkna has no connection to anything in the Russian or Slavic languages. It is a nonsense word that Corporon made up while Stamp was his student.
Pastime: A Salute to Baseball Jack Stamp
Jack Stamp drew inspiration for this work during a 1998 visit to Candlestick Park for a Giants baseball game. His memories took him back to his first World Series in 1962 between the Giants and the Yankees; he was only eight years old at the time. This salute to the 1962 Giants and baseball in general is loosely woven around two motives from the anthem of the seventh inning stretch “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Ever-changing meters, syncopation, and compound rhythms are skillfully crafted to pay homage to the heros of the game. Measure numbers match player uniform or record numbers. Don Larsen, Willy Mays, Barry Bonds, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, and Roger Maris are a few to be so honored. A slapstick, woodblock, and rimshots imitate the crack of Willie McCovey’s bat. The flutes and bells play the notes “B-A-B-E” to salute the Bambino. Strains of “Meet Me in St. Louis” pay a tribute to Mark McGwire. Polytonality abounds as the work continues with two fugues based on themes from “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The work was commissioned by the Santa Clara County (California) Band Directors Association and was premiered on January 24, 1999 with the composer conducting. It is dedicated to Frank Battisti, long time conductor of the New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble, who retired that same year.
Königsmarsch (Royal March) is one of eight marches written by a composer more famous for operas and major orchestral works. The grand fanfare that opens this march embodies the rich scoring and harmonic power of the Romantic period. A lyrical trio features the woodwinds and horns until the restatement of the opening theme. The instrumentation changes to brass only for an unusual hymn passage, with the full ensemble concluding with a strong and noble presentation of the opening theme. Originally composed for the piano in 1906, the march was premiered at a palace concert in Berlin, Germany, on March 6, 1907, in both orchestral and military band arrangements with the composer conducting. At this occasion, King Wilhelm II granted Strauss the citizenship award of the Imperial Order of the Third Class. Strauss’ dedication on the manuscript reads “To His Majesty the Kaiser, King Wilhelm II in profound respect and honor given by the composer.”
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842 - 1900) was the son of a military band clarinetist who was the first professor of clarinet when the Royal Military School of Music opened in England at Sandhurst in 1957. Sullivan's light operas, written to William Gilbert's libretti over about twenty-five years from 1871, delighted the public and made a fortune for both men and their impresario D'Oyly Carte.
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.
Suite from the Ballet “Pineapple Poll”
The ballet “Pineapple Poll” is a spoof of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. In 1950, the copyright on Sullivan’s music expired. One of the first to exploit this opportunity was Sadler’s Wells, who staged the ballet set exclusively to music by Sullivan, arranged by a young Charles Mackerras. During the war, Mackerras had played oboe in the pit of a Sydney theater, where they produced all of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas except for Utopia and Grand Duke, the only two not represented in the ballet. Every bar of music, even the short bridge passages, is taken from some opera. The plot is based upon “The Bumboat Woman's Story” of Gilbert's “Bab Ballards”, which was later developed by Gilbert into “H.M.S. Pinafore”. The story evolves around Pineapple Poll and her colleagues, who are all madly in love with the captain of the good ship H.M.S. Hot Cross Bun. In order to gain admittance to the ship, they disguise themselves in sailors' clothes, a fact which is kept secret from the audience until near the end of the ballet.
Franz von Suppe was of Belgian descent, Dalmatian birth, and lived most of his life in Vienna. His musical ability was recognized after he composed a Mass for the Franciscan church at Zara when he was only fifteen. In 1840, he secured his first musical post in Vienna as third conductor at the Theater in der Josefstadt. Here he conducted, but also composed, the requisite incidental music to accompany many farces and folk-plays that were the basis of comic operas. These operettas developed in response to the Viennese captivation with the brilliant satire and exuberance of those by Jacques Offenbach. Suppe was a prodigious composer, creating some three hundred stage works besides a variety of instrumental, orchestral, and sacred music. Today, with the exception of a handful of his operettas, which are still produced in Europe, comparatively few of his compositions are performed. He is best remembered for his overtures Light Cavalry; Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna; Jolly Robbers; and Poet and Peasant.
Poet and Peasant Overture
Preludes and overtures were often written to set the mood of Viennese folk plays and therefore might be used for more than one production. Such was the case for Poet and Peasant, which introduced a comedy of the that name in 1846. The piece had already been heard as the overture to the play Lots of money, short of sleep and may also have prefaced two other plays. This overture did not belong to an opera until several years after its 1845 composition date. The themes from this overture are among the most often quoted material for comic effects for stage productions and animated cartoons. Probably, they represent, in sound, an era of nostalgia from the old-time park band concerts and are familiar to audiences of all age groups. This composition deserves to be heard in its original context as a serious, but highly entertaining, selection.