Suite from the Monteregian Hills
This suite, by Canadian bandmaster, conductor, and composer Morley Calvert (1928 - ), was written in 1961 under commission from the Montreal Brass Quintet. It is based on French-Canadian folk songs and named for the eight mountains which range in an arc from Mount Royal near Montreal south to the American border.
Since 1984, Mark Camphouse has served as Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Radford University in Virginia. Born in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois, in 1954, he graduated from high school a year early and went on to receive his formal musical training at Northwestern University (BM, 1975; MM, 1976) and taught at universities in Illinois, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. Musical composition started at an early age, with his First Symphony being premiered by the Colorado Symphony when he was just 17. His To Build A Fire won the 15th Annual National Band Association’s (NBA) Composition Contest in 1991. Tribute (1985) and Elegy (1987) were runners up for the American Band Association’s (ABA) Ostwald Award. He is an elected member of the ABA and serves as coordinator of the NBA’s Young Composer Mentor Project. Camphouse has served as guest conductor, lecturer and clinician in North America and Europe.
Freedom of Speech from ‘Two American Canvases’‘Two American Canvases’ is Mark Camphouse’s reflection on two iconic American paintings. The first, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, portrays people sitting in a downtown diner late at night. The second is one of four oil paintings by Norman Rockwell completed in 1943 depicting the Four Freedoms. The theme of these paintings came from a 1941 State of the Union speech by President Franklin Roosevelt, who identified four essential human rights (Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom From Want, and Freedom From Fear) that should be universally protected and serve as a reminder of why the United States was fighting in World War II. Too old to serve in the military, Rockwell was inspired to illustrate Roosevelt’s speech. The Saturday Evening Post published reproductions along with essays by prominent thinkers of the day. The paintings later went on a touring exhibition and, together with sales drives, helped raise over $130 million from the sale of war bonds. Freedom of Speech begins solemnly with solo statements from different instruments, each perhaps expressing their opinion. Others join in and the nobility of the cause gains support. A majestic proclamation encounters discord, however, but that is equally protected and the differences are resolved. A peaceful ending allows one to appreciate that one voice, freely spoken, can make a difference.
In Memoriam was commissioned by The Revelli Foundation in January 2002 following the death of Mr. L.J. Hancock, Director of Bands at Norwin High School, North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania (1976 - 2001) and a long-time friend and colleague of the Bands of America organization. Under Mr. Hancock’s leadership, the Norwin bands rose to national acclaim winning the 1982 Bands of America Grand National Championship and receiving the Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Shield International Award for Musical Excellence. He was an integral part of the Bands of America organization for more than two decades. Serving many years as summer band camp director and as a member on BOA’s advisory boards, Hancock’s talent and enthusiasm influenced thousands of students, educators, and musicians. Mark Camphouse has commented that he used the Communion hymn Salvation is Created by the Russian composer Pavel Chesnokov (1877 - 1944) as the central theme of In Memoriam, when he learned that Hancock had a tradition of warming-up his high school band on the field to that hymn.
Symphonic Fanfare begins with nobility and exhuberant brass fanfares. A lyric and reflective middle section provides contrast before the composition concludes in a martial and majestic manner. It was commissioned by the Wheaton (Illinois) Municipal Band to celebrate their 75th anniversary.
Yosemite AutumnIn 2003, Mark Camphouse was on a two week family vacation in Northern California. San Francisco, Big Sur, the Wine Country, Redwood and Lassen National Parks, and Lake Tahoe were all “truly magnificent” in his words. He was enjoying quality time with his family and his musical projects were forgotten at home. Then they reached Yosemite National Park. He wrote:
How could any human not be profoundly moved by such stunning beauty? How could any American not take immense pride in our nation being so richly blessed with such an abundance of natural beauty? . . . finally, how could any composer not be inspired and hopelessly tempted to “get the creative juices flowing’ in trying to capture the rich history and majestic landscape that is Yosemite? The remaining portion of this family vacation was doomed. I was there physically with my family - hiking, horseback riding, and doing the things tourist do. But the creative part of me was definitely somewhere else - absorbed in thinking about ways I might try to go about capturing musically the awe-inspiring sights and sounds of Yosemite: Glacier Point, Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls, to name just a few.Yosemite Autumn begins gently as sunlight might provide first light in the Valley cloaked in a morning mist. As the mist dissipates, the grandeur of the high cliffs and waterfalls becomes apparent, lifting up one’s spirit. The park becomes alive with wildlife, the rush of the Merced River, and visitors overwhelmed by the experience. The warm color of alpenglow illuminates the valley walls as the day ends serenely.
Toccata (in the style of G. Frescobaldi)
A toccata is a rhapsodic form of instrumental music. Originally written for the organ, it is essentially a solo piece which was improvised. The name “toccata” indicates that it was conceived as a “touch piece” characterized by rhapsodic sections with sustained chords, scale passages, and broken figuration. The present toccata consists of three sections with tempos of slow, fast, and slow. The rhapsodic beginning and closing sections enclose a quick middle section, featuring French horns, which is based on a development of a tuneful fanfare motif. The subject is treated antiphonally and is varied continually through the addition of new counter-subjects and accompaniments. The movement concludes with a short, fast coda.
Girolamo Frescobaldi was originally credited as the composer of the Toccata. Musical scholars in the late 20th century began to question the existence of Romantic references within the Baroque setting of the piece. In 1982, it was discovered that Gaspar Cassadó (1897 - 1966), the son of Spanish composer Joaquin Cassadó and a student of Pablo Casals, had written the work in 1925 for cello and piano and had attributed it to Frescobaldi to promote the work. Attributing new works to established composers has occurred frequently in musical history. Gaspar Cassadó was an accomplished cellist. In addition to the Toccata, he wrote an oratorio, a cello concerto, a rhapsody, and several chamber works.
Girolamo Frescobaldi (Ferrara, Italy 1583 - Rome 1643) was the most eminent organist of the first half of the seventeenth century. When he was appointed organist at St. Peter's in Rome in 1603, 30,000 people were reported to have witnessed his first performance. Except for the period 1628-33, when he served as the court organist at Florence, Frescobaldi was the organist at St. Peter's from 1608 until his death in 1643.
Cécile Chaminade (1857 - 1944) was born in Paris, into an upper middle-class family of amateur musicians. She was tutored at the piano by her mother. At the age of eight, she began composing church music. She made extensive concert tours as a pianist, performing regularly in England, including a guest performance for Queen Victoria. Chaminade composed 400 works in a wide variety of genres: concerti, orchestral suites, a ballet, an opera, chamber music, a choral symphony, 135 songs, and over 200 piano pieces. Most of her works enjoyed popularity during her lifetime. Her music is tuneful and highly accessible, with clear textures and mildly chromatic harmonies, with a typically French wit and color. Shortly before her death, the French government awarded her the title of Chevaliere of the Legion of Honor.
The Concertino is a rhapsodic, romantic work for solo flute featuring two principal themes. It was written in 1902 as the annual awards competition piece for the flute students at the Paris Conservatory. The expressive and technical qualities of the flute are showcased. Originally written for piano accompaniment, Clayton Wilson arranged it for wind band in 1947.
A Texas native, John Barnes Chance was born in Beaumont in 1932. He played percussion in high school and started composing. Attending the University of Texas under a scholarship, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, studying under Clifton Williams. After graduation, he began a three year tour of duty in the Army service bands as a percussionist and arranger. After his discharge, he received a grant from the Ford Foundation’s Young Composers Project and was assigned to the Greensboro, North Carolina public schools. He wrote seven pieces for school ensembles including Incantation and Dance. In 1966, his Variations on a Korean Folk Song received the Ostwald Award from the American Bandmasters Association. The following year he was appointed to the faculty of the University of Kentucky, where he was later appointed head of the theory-composition program. In 1972, Chance’s promising career was cut short when he died from cardiac arrest after a tent pole accidentally contacted an electrified fence in his backyard.
Written in 1971 and dedicated to the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp of Twin Lake, Michigan, this exciting overture displays the composer's command of time, meter, and instrumentation. Beginning with a trademark opening tempo marking of slancio (with impetuosity), the initial motive is heard in the horns. The pulsing 3+3+2 pattern transitions into a soft waltz and a restatement of the initial theme. The energy of the opening returns to carry the work to its finale.
ElegyElegy is one of the most poignant and expressive works in the band literature. Commissioned by the West Genessee Senior High School Band (NY), it is a reworking of an earlier, unpublished work for chorus and orchestra (Blessed Are They That Mourn) written a decade before. It was also one of the last compositions of a very talented composer. Beginning with a quiet romantic theme in the low woodwinds, each new entrance features a similar line as intensity and tempo increase to a dramatic climax. Rich chord clusters shift the key of the work as the expressive and romantic theme diminishes to the barely distinguishable dynamic of the opening.
Incantation and Dance
This work consists of two sections, highly contrasted in both length and nature. The Incantation is a short, mournful legato melody. It is full of mystery and expectation, wandering, unstable, and without tonality. Beginning on a misterioso flute note, instruments are gradually added, but the general dynamic level remains soft, hushed, and waiting, until the feroce and fortissimo of the accented repeated triplets, casting the final incantation. The Dance also begins quietly, but percussion instruments quickly enter, one by one, building a rhythmic pattern of incredible complexity and drive. The entrance of the brass and winds creates an increase in the rhythmic tension, as the dance grows wilder and more frenzied. After a short variation of material from the Incantation, the beginning of the Dance section is once again represented by the percussion. The piece gathers force as the entire ensemble draws together for a dramatic and exciting conclusion.
Variations on a Korean Folk Song
While stationed with the U.S. Army in Korea in the late 50’s, Chance became fascinated by the popular folk melody Arirang, using it as the basis for his Variations on a Korean Folk Song. Arirang is traditional Korean song of love and heartbreak that can be found in many variations, with an origin that may date back 1000 years. The pentatonic (5 tone) theme is heard at the outset of this composition and is contrasted with five variations.
Born in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, on July 8, 1946, Jay A. Chattaway was educated at West Virginia University and the Eastman School of Music. He served seven years as Composer-in-residence of the U. S. Navy Band in Washington, D. C. A past member of the A & R staff at Columbia Records, he is an independent record producer, and music writer for films.
Salute To P. S. Gilmore
Three of Gilmore's works are incorporated into this composition, which was written by Jay Chattaway under commission from the P. S. Gilmore Society to mark the centennial of Gilmore's passing. The work begins in a festive allegro style. The andante section is the first statement of God Save the Union, which was intended by Gilmore to be a National Anthem for the preservation of the Union in 1861. When I Saw Sweet Nelly Home appears in a moderato tempo in a light manner. A solo trumpet plays a variation on this theme, followed by a legato treatment by the low winds, and a solo piccolo variation. When Johnny Comes Marching Home evolves with a number of treatments, including a driving percussion background. The woodwinds give a few musical references to Gilmore's native land of County Galway, Ireland, before the marcato finale.
John Cheetham, Professor of Music Theory and Composition at the University of Missouri-Columbia, was born in Taos, New Mexico in 1939. He holds bachelor and masters degrees from the University of New Mexico, as well as the Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Washington. During his tenure at Missouri, Dr. Cheetham has written works for band, orchestra, and numerous chamber compositions. Over 20 of his compositions have been published and recorded. He has been the recipient of numerous commissions, including those from the Kentucky Derby Museum, Tennessee Tech University, Texas Tech University, The New Mexico Brass Quintet, and the Summit Brass.
Infinite Horizons was commissioned by the Alpha Omicron chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi at Texas Tech University and was first performed by the University Symphonic Band at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention in 1991. It is dedicated to Dean Killion, Director of Bands Emeritus, who served as director of bands at Texas Tech from 1959-1980. The title of the work is based on the composer’s boyhood recollections of the topography of West Texas and the area surrounding Lubbock. The listener might sense the open expanse of this high plains agricultural region, the approach of a thunderstorm, or the flight of a hawk in the clear skies. Comprised of two main sections, the work is cast in the form of a classical overture.
Chen Yi was born in Guangzhou, China, on April 4, 1953. She started learning violin and piano when only 3. The Cultural Revolution forced her family’s relocation to the countryside and interrupted her studies. She spent two years in a labor camp. She explains: “Classical music was forbidden during the Cultural Revolution, but I tried hard to continue playing. Even when I worked for twelve hours a day as a laborer, carrying hundred-pound rocks and mud for irrigation walls, I would play both simple songs to farmers along with excerpts from the standard western classical repertory. It was during that period that I started thinking about the value of individual lives and the importance of education in society.” Returning to the city in 1970, she was inspired by her experience with traditional Chinese music to include it into her compositions. She became the concertmaster and composer for the Beijing Opera Troupe. She later graduated from the Central Conservatory of Beijing (B.A. 1983; M.A. 1986) with the honor of being the first woman in China to receive a Master of Arts in Composition. In 1986, Dr. Chen came to the United States to continue her musical training, earning a D.M.A. from Columbia University in 1993. She is the winner of numerous awards and grants with compositions for orchestra, band, chorus, and solo instrument. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and serves as a Distinguished Professor in Music Composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory.
Spring Festival was written in 1999 to honor the most important Chinese celebration of the year, Chinese New Year or Chun Jie, a fifteen-day festival that begins on the first day of the lunar new year. Usually falling between the end of January and the beginning of February, it marks the end of winter when spring is close at hand. Drawing on the folk ensemble work Lion Playing Ball, the composer used the rule of the Golden Section to structure the work. This rule is based on the ratio of phi (1:1.61803). This is the ratio of the first 45 measures (the Golden Section) of this work to its total length. Chen Yi employed the Golden rule two more times within this passage, determining the entries of the trumpet and clarinet sections following the Oriental percussion instruments that open the work, ringing in the New Year. The sections following each Golden Section are called the Negative Sections, but the normal connotation doesn’t apply to rhythmic syncopation and crisp phrasing that convey the style and spirit of the music.
Pascual Pérez Choví was born in Alginet, Province of Valencia, Spain, in 1889. His death occurred in that city in 1953. At the age of seven, he began studying clarinet and music theory with Maestro Aguado, director of the Municipal Band of Valencia. Four years later, the talented Choví was the E-flat clarinet soloist with that band, later becoming principal B-flat clarinetist. In 1920, he continued his studies with Maestro Navarro, director of the military chapel band in Valencia. Choví became director of the Alginet Musical Art Society Band in 1923. That band would win two second prizes at the International Contest of City Bands in Valencia in 1924 and 1925. It premiered Pepita Greus, Choví’s best known work, at that contest in 1926 where it and the band were awarded first prize. He composed other pasodobles, waltzes, a mazurka, and a serenade.
The pasodoble is often associated with the bullring. The beautiful Pepita Greus embodies a more romantic essence, highlighted by a clarinet solo, to be inferred by composer Pascual Pérez Choví’s dedication of the work to the poet Angela-Josefa Greus Sáez. “Pepita” was the nickname for little Josefa. Her family would not allow Choví to court her and she eventually became a nun. Pepita Greus was awarded first prize when it premiered in a contest in Valencia in 1926. Its popularity was confirmed with additional first and second prizes in 1930 and later.
James Christensen (b. 1935) is a prolific composer/arranger with over 300 published works to his credit. For twelve of his 30-plus years with Walt Disney Productions, Jim served as music director for both Disneyland and Disney World. His arrangements are currently heard at theme parks around the world, including all the Disney parks, Knott's Berry Farm, Canada's Wonderland, Hershey Park, Lotte World (Korea), Everland, and Movie World in Germany. He has also orchestrated music for the Boston Pops, the London Philharmonic, several Super Bowls, and National Public Radio. Jim often serves as a guest conductor for bands and orchestras. He is a trombone clinician for UMI-Conn and conducts his own Pacific Pops Orchestra.
German Carol Festival
Our legacy of carols has come from many nations. England, Italy, Spain, and Mexico have provided soothing lullabies and rousing invitations to rejoice. Germany has played a significant part, as the songs of this arrangement will attest. The first proclaims O How Joyfully comes Christmas time! What we know as Good Christian Men, Rejoice is a paraphrase of the Latin and German settings of In Dulci Jubilo; Christensen has set it in a swing tempo. Franz Gruber’s beautiful Silent Night had its humble beginnings in a Bavarian church on Christmas eve 1818. The Echo Carol (While By My Sheep) recalls the echoing of church bells through the small villages and valleys. O Come, Little Children is an 18th century carol that calls them to the manger in Bethlehem. The tradition of the modern day O Tannenbaum is lost to history. A popular tale, however, tells that Martin Luther saw the starlight shining through the trees one snowy night. He cut a small fir and took it home, where he decorated it with candles to replicate the light of the stars.
The compositions of Roger Cichy (b. 1956, Columbus, Ohio) often paint experiences, emotions, and abstract ideas on a canvas of sounds. Strong rhythms, using repetition to drive his melodies forward, often performed by the use of percussion instruments, are prominent in many of Cichy’s compositions. He earned a Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts in Music Education from The Ohio State University. Cichy credits his graduate student tasking of copying music and extracting parts from scores, along with later transcription and arranging experiences, as giving him a strong sense of instrumental coloration. He has served as an educator and band director at elementary, high school, and college levels. Now working as a freelance composer and arranger, he has completed over 300 compositions for small ensembles, high school bands, and professional bands and orchestras. Numerous composition awards have been given to him by ASCAP.
Composer Roger Cichy has developed an interesting suite of dances with four movements based on progressive meters. By adding an eighth note to the time signature of each successive movement, the meter moves from 4/8 (2/4), to 5/8, 6/8, and 7/8. The first movement, Quadratic Permutations, has a quick dance tempo with the sound of Spanish Gypsy music because of the musical scale used. The rhythm is regular, with two beats and two off-beats, fitting the quadratic theme. Pentangular Concoction follows in 5/8 time with an animated melody. The eighth note combinations vary from 3 + 2 to 2 + 3 to give the movement an arhythmic or hypnotic state. The tranquil and waltz-like third movement, Hexagonal Undulations, is based on an even 6/8 meter. The movement utilizes small groups of woodwinds for their lyrical qualities. The composer has described the assortment of musical styles in Heptomical Infusions as “whimsical, jazzy, sinister, lopsided, ritualistic, and polyrhythmic.” The name of the movement is derived from the Greek prefix hepta, signifying a count of 7 (eighth notes in this case). The most common groupings are 3 + 2 +2 and 2 + 2 + 3, with the middle section of the movement having both superimposed upon each other.
Herbert Lincoln Clarke (1867 - 1945) has been celebrated as one of the greatest cornetists of his time. He was also an excellent composer, accomplished arranger, conductor, and violinist. Born in Woburn, Massachusetts, he moved with his family to Toronto, Canada, in 1880. He taught himself to play the cornet after hearing a solo performance of Bowen R. Church. At the age of 15, he was a member of the Queen’s Own Rifles Band. His skills continued to improve as he worked jobs in Toronto and Indianapolis, where his family relocated. He auditioned for Patrick S. Gilmore’s Band in 1892 and was selected as the band’s cornet soloist. Six years later, he became the solo cornetist for the Sousa Band. Clarke served in that position or as assistant conductor for most of the period until 1917, when he retired to a life of teaching and conducting. He conducted Sousa’s Band in over 200 recordings and recorded most of his own solo cornet compositions.
Carnival of Venice
The band concerts of the early 20th century, directed by John Philip Sousa and Arthur Pryor, were significant social and musical events. The audiences were dazzled and the skills of the musicians were often tested in works similar to these variations on the Carnival of Venice composed by Herbert L. Clarke. Although written after Clarke retired from his performing career, it embodies the difficult tonguing and perfect fingering Clarke knew was needed by the soloist to bring forth the phrasing, arpeggios, and intervals as a testimony of that player’s skills. It has become a rite of passage for many brass musicians. Consisting of an introduction, theme, two variations, and a finale, the demands on the soloist never stop. In the last variation, it sounds like the soloist is accompanying himself in multiple octaves.
Eric Coates (1886 - 1957) was born in Hucknall, a small mining town north of Nottingham, England. At six, he demanded a violin after hearing Pen Payton play during a visit to the Coates home. Largely self taught, his talents increased sufficiently to earn him a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in 1906, where he studied the viola and composition. He earned a living as a violist, eventually serving as principal viola for the Queen’s Hall Orchestra. It was his intent, when learning composition, to write “light music.” He began by composing songs set to Shakespeare’s texts and to poems of Fred E. Weatherley. While Coates composed about 130 songs, few are heard today. His years playing in the orchestra helped him to understand the ranges and capabilities of the instruments. His first major orchestral piece, the Miniature Suite (1911) met with good success. Coates became a serious composer and stopped performing on the viola when, in 1919, he was dismissed from the Queen’s Hall Orchestra for using too many stand-ins during their rehearsals. Writing for provincial festivals, he produced his popular The Selfish Giant and The Three Bears, which was dedicated to his four year old son, Austin. He became much in demand as a conductor of his own works. The music he composed during the war years proved valuable to the morale of his nation. Radio broadcasts were introduced with his Calling All Workers, Knightsbridge and Eighth Army marches, and The Three Elizabeths suite. In an announcement of Coates’ death from a massive stroke, the worldwide broadcasts of the BBC dubbed him ‘the uncrowned king of light music.’
The Dam Busters March
Originally composed in 1942, this march is the centerpiece of the music Coates wrote for the movie of the same name. Produced in 1955, “The Dam Busters” told the story of the Royal Air Force squadron that flew special missions to destroy dams in the steel-producing Rohr Valley in Germany. Regular bombs could not damage the dams, because of the cushioning effect of the water behind them. Torpedoes were ineffective, because the Germans had deployed nets to snag them. British scientist Barnes Wallis, portrayed by Michael Redgrave in the film, developed a skipping bomb that would bounce along the water’s surface until it struck the back of the dam. The extremely dangerous missions succeeded in breaching the Mohne and Eder Dams, devastating Germany, but at a cost of 53 lives.
Born in Brooklyn, Aaron Copland (1900 - 1990) has been called the “dean of American music.” He first studied with Rubin Goldmark and then, in 1921, with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Returning in 1924, he sought a style “that could speak of universal things in a vernacular of American speech rhythms.” He seemed to know what to remove from the music of the European tradition, simplifying the chords and opening the melodic language, in order to make a fresh idiom. The strains of his ballet and theater scores - Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, and Rodeo - and his orchestral and recital repertory - El Salon Mexico, Lincoln Portrait, Fanfare for the Common Man, and Quiet City - immediately evoke visions of the beauty and grandeur of his homeland and of it heros and workers. He was a great teacher, whether to the classes of composers at the Tanglewood Festival or to broad spectrum audiences of laymen. In his later years, he was often called upon to conduct and narrate his own works. It can honestly be said that Copland set America's soul to music. The year 1990 saw the loss of both Aaron Copland and his devoted student, Leonard Bernstein.
A Copland Portrait
To honor Aaron Copland’s 85th birthday, Clare Grundman constructed a collage of the noted composer’s works. A Copland Portrait opens majestically with a statement from Fanfare for the Common Man, honoring the role of the common citizen during World War II. A tribute to the Southwest is paid with a passage from “Saturday Night Waltz” from the ballet Rodeo. Two musical phrases from El Salon Mexico follow. Copland’s work with choreographer Martha Graham is represented by segments from the ballet Appalachian Spring. Grundman’s tribute concludes with music from two more dance episodes, “Buckaroo Holiday” and “Hoe Down,” from Rodeo.
An Outdoor Overture
Alexander Richter was the head of the music department of the High School of Music and Art in New York City. He had been seeking a work to launch a campaign of “American Music for American Youth.” Richter had been very impressed by Copland’s The Second Hurricane, an opera for school performance. Copland found the campaign so irresistable that he interrupted the orchestration for Billy the Kid. When Copland played a piano sketch for Richter, the latter commented that it had an open-air quality, thus giving rise to the title of An Outdoor Overture. The high school premiered the Overture on December 16 and 17, 1938. Copland scored both an orchestral and band version of the work, which features an opening fanfare followed by a lyric trumpet solo. A driving march-like theme alternates with reflective melodic sections. These themes become interwoven into an exultant conclusion. The first “regular” orchestral premiere was by the Federal Symphony for the New York World’s Fair at Carnegie Hall on May 7, 1929. Critics characterized it as “kid stuff,” but were chastised by composer Elliott Carter who said it “... contains some of his finest and most personal music. Its opening is as lofty and beautiful as any passage that has been written by a contemporary composer.”
Fanfare for the Common Man
During World War II, Eugene Goossens, the conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, commissioned a number of American composers to write fanfares to begin his concerts. Copland's contribution, written in the fall of 1942, was one of the most successful. Copland thought well enough of the piece to incorporate it, four years later, in his Symphony No. 3, where it serves as the basis for the introduction to the finale of the work. The Fanfare has been used as the introduction to the Omnibus television series of the '50s and it has been adopted by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts as its radio “theme” music.
As Americans were gathering their resources following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Andre Kostelanez approached Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, and Jerome Kern with the idea of a series of concerts that would prominently feature “a portrait gallery of great Americans”. Thomson's subject was New York May Fiorello LaGuardia. Copland's first choice was Walt Whitman, but when Kern chose Mark Twain, Kostelanez suggested that Copland choose a statesman, rather than another literary figure. Abraham Lincoln seemed an inevitable choice. Sifting through the President's speeches and writings, Copland chose a few excerpts that were particulary relevant to America's situation in 1942.
Copland's score is not a literal exposition of Lincoln's pronouncements, but an extraordinarily skilled way of applying and combining free-sounding music with specific prose meanings. It is as moving and significant as the words Lincoln wrote. The composition is divided roughly into three main sections. In the opening, Copland hoped to suggest something of a mysterious sense of fatality that surrounds Lincoln's personality, transitioning to suggestions of his gentleness and simplicity of spirit. Brief sketches, in the quick middle section, relate to the times in which Lincoln lived. The conclusion draws a simple but impressive frame about the words of Lincoln himself.
Scenes from 'Billy The Kid'
Following the success of his El Salon Mexico, Aaron Copland was called upon by ballet impresario Lincoln Kirstein to compose the music to a ballet based on the legend of Billy the Kid, drawn from the 1925 best seller by Walter Noble Burns. Premiered by Ballet Caravan in 1938 in a two-piano version, a full orchestral score completed in May 1939. The ballet was a great success and Copland began getting royalty checks of $40 for each performance. He related “It was after Billy, when I was almost forty years old, that my mother finally said that the money spent on piano lessons for me was not wasted.”
The Suite from the ballet music was completed by Copland in the summer of 1939. As arranged for wind ensemble by Quincy C. Hilliard, the Suite is programmatic. Beginning with “The Open Prairie,” Copland’s conveys the space and isolation of the New Mexico prairie. He depicts the life in a frontier town with cowboys demonstrating their skill with lassos and follows with a Mexican dance. A brawl breaks out and gun shots are heard. Billy’s mother is accidentally killed and Billy takes revenge by stabbing those guilty, necessitating his flight into the night. A posse is successful in capturing him and the town rejoices. Billy’s demise is noted in a short, solemn passage. The Suite concludes with an adoption of the opening theme to convey a new dawn opening over the prairie.
The Red Pony, Film Suite for Band
Aaron Copland wrote the music for the film “The Red Pony” during a 10 week period in 1948 on the studio lot in the San Fernando Valley. An orchestral suite was completed that same year, commissioned by Efrem Kurtz of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Four of the original movements were transcribed for performance by the US Navy Band in 1968. John Steinbeck's story about a ten year old boy, Jody, and his life on a California ranch was based on the author's experiences growing up near King City and a pony he had once cared for. It is a story that derives its warmth and sensitive quality from the character studies of the boy, his parents, grandfather, and cowhand Billy Buck. It is filled with the emotions of daily living, from the joy of a boy receiving a pony of his own to the bitter nature of death and dying. The Dream March and Circus Music depict two of Jody's daydreams; he is at the head of an army of knights in silvery armor or the whip-cracking ringmaster of the circus. The Walk to the Bunkhouse shows Jody's admiration for Billy Buck's talents, especially with horses. Grandfather's Story tells of how he led the wagon train `clear across the plains to the coast', but his bitterness that the `Westerning has died out of the people' can't be hidden from his grandson. The last movement suggests the open air quality of country living and mounts to the climax of a Happy Ending.
Variations on a Shaker Melody
This set of five variations on the Shaker melody ‘Tis the Gift to Be Simple was derived by Aaron Copland from his music composed for the ballet “Appalachian Spring”, produced in 1944 in collaboration with Martha Graham. The ballet features a bride and her young farmer husband at a pioneer celebration in the Spring around a newly built farmhouse. The Shaker melody provided the sense of the pioneer American spirit, with youth, optimism, and hope in an elegant and simple manner.
Edward Victor Cupero was born February 15, 1877, near Naples, Italy, and immigrated to the U.S. with his parents at the age of three. Sent back to Naples at the age of seven, he studied at the Royal Conservatory until returning to the States seven years later. An accomplished cornettist, he played with several professional bands and directed minstrel bands in the Baltimore, Maryland, area. It was Cupero, as pianist for Hamling’s saloon in Baltimore, who discovered Al Jolson in 1898. Only 11 years old, newsboy Jolson would entertain the crowd singing ballads to Cupero’s accompaniment. From 1910 to 1915, Cupero was the musical director for George Evans’ “Honey Boy” Minstrels, so named for the popularity of the song I’ll Be True To My Honey Boy; they were considered one of the finest minstrel shows in the U.S. Cupero conducted theater and symphony orchestras and was active with school bands. His organization of the Spring Hill College band in Mobile, Alabama, eventually led to his appointment as director of the music department. On September 10, 1939, Cupero died approximately a year after his return to Baltimore.
Honey Boys On Parade March
Honey Boys On Parade has all the features of a “screamer.” It was written in 1914, while E.V. Cupero was directing the band for George Evans’ “Honey Boy” Minstrels. Hang on to your hat as the band, led by the brass, establishes a tempo characteristic of many circus marches; the woodwinds then take you on a wild roller coaster ride before a fanfare ending.
James Edward Curnow is rapidly becoming acknowledged as one of America's outstanding composers for concert band. Before his fortieth birthday, over 100 of his compositions and arrangements were published for concert band, chorus, and brass band; he has won several prestigious awards for their excellence. Born in Port Huron, Michigan, in 1943, he received his B.S. degree in music education from Wayne State University and his M. M. degree from Michigan State University. Curnow taught in the public schools of Michigan from 1966 to 1969, followed by fourteen years on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin, Mott Community College, and Asbury College. In 1981, Curnow became the assistant director of bands and an associate professor of music at the University of Illinois. He now lives in Nicholasville, Kentucky, where he heads Curnow Music Press, serves as Composer-in-residence at Asbury College, and is editor of all music publications for the Salvation Army.
Mutanza is a 16th Century Italian term for variation. This symphonic work consists of an opening original theme followed by five variations in contrasting timbre and tempo. The composition was the winner of the American Bandmasters Association Ostwald Award in 1980.
Symphonic Variants for Euphonium and Band
Through variations in tempo and tone, the Symphonic Variants bring forth the sonority of the euphonium and the skills of the soloist. The work begins with an allegro con espressivo statement of the theme and alternates with adagio and allegro con spirito variations. Lento, presto, and pesante treatments add further interest to the composition.
Where Never Lark Or Eagle Flew
The title and inspiration for this stirring composition were derived from a poem written by 19-year old John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an American pilot who enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force to fight in the Battle of Britain at a time when the United States was still officially neutral. In England, Magee was flying at high altitude (30,000 feet) in a new model of the Spitfire V, when the inspiration for the poem “High Flight” came to him. He completed his poem when he landed and sent a copy to his parents in a letter to home. Just 3 months later, on December 11, 1941, Pilot Officer Magee was killed in a mid-air collision while training over Tangmere, England.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.