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Edwin Franko Goldman (1878-1956) was one of America’s premiere bandmasters.  He was born in Lexington, Kentucky to a musical family.  They moved to New York in his youth, where he studied composition with Antonin Dvorak and later began his career playing trumpet in the Metropolitan Opera orchestra.  In 1911, he formed the organization that would become the Goldman Band, a professional concert band that played outdoor concerts in New York City.  He also founded the American Bandmasters Association, an important and exclusive professional organization for band directors.  Through these groups, Goldman would commission and premiere numerous new works that are now standard repertoire for wind bands.  He was also a composer in his own right, with over 150 original works to his name.

He wrote The Chimes of Liberty in 1922 for the Goldman Band.  It is a standard American march, but with a chimes solo in the trio and a piccolo solo that sounds like it was ripped straight from The Stars and Stripes Forever. Like other Goldman marches, the trio section had words:

They’re the chimes of liberty,
Chimes that ring for you and me,
Where every loyal heart beats true,
They bring joy anew;
‘Tis a song of loyalty,
Of a nation brave and free,
Let us pray that they will ring for aye,
Our country’s chimes of liberty!

Feel free to sing along as The President’s Own United States Marine Band plays the march:

Loathe as I am to quibble with the US Marine Band on march style, I like to do a few things differently from this performance, which is largely by the book of the latest Schissel edition.  These changes add variety and excitement to the piece, and can be applied to any number of other marches.  They are based on my studies of march form with Wayne Bailey at Arizona State University, and have been tested in performance.

  • In the first strain, have the trombone countermelody folks play a little under dynamic the first time, then have them play out the second time.
  • In the second strain, take out everyone except tubas, horns, saxes, and clarinets the first time, and have the clarinets play down an octave.  Everyone who does play should stay at piano throughout.  Second time, as written.  All of these changes start on the PICKUP, by the way.
  • Trio first time, have the trumpets play the last note of their fanfare figure long.  Dr. Bailey also had them use cup mutes in this section.
  • Speed up ever so slightly in the last four bars, and place the stinger a hair early.

Read more about Goldman and his band.  If you’re looking for more information on the Goldman Band, look at print sources like Frank Battisti’s The Winds of Change or Richard Hansen’s The American Wind Band: A Cultural History. The websites that do exist (goldmanband.org and goldmanband.net) are relics from the Band’s acrimonious last days in 2005 (and have not been updated since), and they contain little in the way of history.

Washington, D.C. native and legendary bandmaster John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) wrote a dozen operettas, six full-length operas, and over 100 marches, earning the title “March King”.  He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at an early age and went on to become the conductor of the President’s Own United States Marine Band at age 26.  In 1892 he formed “Sousa and his Band”, which toured the United States and the world under his directorship for the next forty years to great acclaim.  Not only was Sousa’s band hugely popular, but it also exposed audiences all over the world to the latest, cutting-edge music, bringing excerpts of Wagner’s Parsifal to New York a decade before the Metropolitan Opera staged it, and introducing ragtime to Europe, helping to spark many a composer’s interest in American music.

Frederick Fennell’s program notes to his edition of The Black Horse Troop tell the whole story of the march from a personal perspective:

The Black Horse Troop was completed December 30, 1924, at Sousa’s Sands Point, Long Island estate.  It was played for the first time about ten months later on October 17, 1925, at a concert of the Sousa Band in the Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio – and I was there.  I had not been to such an event as this one; I remember that as Sousa’s march was being played, Troop A rode the stage and stood behind the band to the tumultuous cheering of all.  The March King enjoyed a long relationship with the men and horses of Cleveland’s Ohio National Guard, known as Troop A.

Once again his special comprehension of the thrilling spectacle of regimental movement produced a compelling musical experience for both the player and the listener, commanding our particular awareness of his use of the trumpets and drums at various dynamic levels.

During the half-century of his career as the most successful bandmaster who ever lived, there was both reason and necessity for his creating these wonderful marches – and among them all The Black Horse Troop is a positive standout.

Read more about the Sousa Band and its history at naxosdirect.com. Click the link that says “Read more about this recording.”

Sousa shrine – including biography, complete works, and much more – at the Dallas Wind Symphony website.

John Philip Sousa on Wikipedia

The Black Horse Troop in a modern performance by the US Marine Band:

Louisiana native William Latham (1917-2004) was a composer and teacher who had a distinguished teaching career at the University of Northern Iowa and the University of North Texas.  He wrote 118 pieces throughout his career, many of which have been performed internationally.

Brighton Beach was Latham’s first work for wind bands, written the same year he finished his doctoral studies at the Eastman School of Music (1954).  Despite the descriptive title (apparently chosen by the publisher), it has no specific program.  It is built like a British march, yet the marked tempo of 126-132 beats goes against the British march convention of 116 bpm.  Thus, performances of it vary from stately to speedy.  Here is a slower performance by the Washington Winds, who take it at 114:

On the other hand, here is the Arizona State University Concert Band under my direction.  We took it at 132.  Please excuse the conductor view of the video.  This was originally my reference recording, but I could find no other decent version of this piece at this (what I feel is the correct) tempo, so I share this with you for your reference as well.

Washington, D.C. native and legendary bandmaster John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) wrote a dozen operettas, six full-length operas, and over 100 marches, earning the title “March King”.  He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at an early age and went on to become the conductor of the President’s Own United States Marine Band at age 26.  In 1892 he formed “Sousa and his Band”, which toured the United States and the world under his directorship for the next forty years to great acclaim.  Not only was Sousa’s band hugely popular, but it also exposed audiences all over the world to the latest, cutting-edge music, bringing excerpts of Wagner’s Parsifal to New York a decade before the Metropolitan Opera staged it, and introducing ragtime to Europe, helping to spark many a composer’s interest in American music.

Sousa wrote The Thunderer in 1889.  The origin of its title is unclear.  According to Marcus Neiman, the march was dedicated to Sousa’s Masonic organization, so it may have some connection to part of the Masonic symbolism or a person within the organization.  The title may also refer to the thunderous trumpet and drum parts in the first half of the march.   Whatever the case may be, it has stood the test of time as one of Sousa’s most accessible, easily playable marches.  For more, look at Wikipedia, Answers.com, and the Band Music PDF Library (which also has a full set of performable parts.)  You can get even more free editions of The Thunderer at IMSLP.

Read more about the Sousa Band and its history at naxosdirect.com. Click the link that says “Read more about this recording.”

Sousa shrine – including biography, complete works, and much more – at the Dallas Wind Symphony website.

John Philip Sousa on Wikipedia

The Thunderer in a modern performance by the US Marine Band:

And again by Sousa himself and the US Marine Band in a vintage 1890 recording:

Washington, D.C. native and legendary bandmaster John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) wrote a dozen operettas, six full-length operas, and over 100 marches, earning the title “March King”.  He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at an early age and went on to become the conductor of the President’s Own Marine Band at age 26.  In 1892 he formed “Sousa and his Band”, which toured the United States and the world under his directorship for the next forty years to great acclaim.  Not only was Sousa’s band hugely popular, but it also exposed audiences all over the world to the latest, cutting-edge music, bringing excerpts of Wagner’s Parsifal to New York a decade before the Metropolitan Opera staged it, and introducing ragtime to Europe, helping to spark many a composer’s interest in American music.

From the Oklahoma City University Band Program Note Archive:

Hands Across the Sea was composed in 1899 and premiered during the same year at the Philadelphia Academy of Music.  Although a number of ideas have been presented concerning the title, Paul Bierley believes that Sousa was inspired by a line credited to John Hookham Frere:  “A sudden thought strikes me — let us swear an eternal friendship.”  In the Great Lakes Recruit of March 1918, Sousa discussed the justification of the Spanish-American War, quoted Frere’s line, and added, “That almost immediately suggested the title Hands Across the Sea.  Sousa’s music and his musicians had the ability to affect people in many lands.  Extensive European tours were made by Sousa’s band between 1900 and 1905.  In December 1910, a world voyage was begun, which included England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Canary Islands, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, the Hawaiian Islands, Canada, and the United States.  The tour lasted one year, one month, and one week.

You can find out more about Hands Across the Sea at Wikipedia and Classical Archives.  You can also download free, public domain sheet music at the IMSLP (piano score and another recording) and the Band Music PDF Library (full set of parts).

Read more about the Sousa Band and its history at naxosdirect.com. Click the link that says “Read more about this recording.”

Sousa shrine – including biography, complete works, and much more – at the Dallas Wind Symphony website.

John Philip Sousa on Wikipedia

Hands Across the Sea performed by an anonymous band:

The Library of Congress has this recording of Sousa’s band playing the piece in 1923.

Hands Across the Sea shares its title with a play by Noël Coward and several nonprofit groups.

Hands Across the Sea is a senior choice for Sam Alexander ’13, trombonist and co-leader of Making Music Matter.

Paul Murtha (b. 1960) is a composer, arranger, and conductor who has distinguished himself through his work as Chief Arranger for both the United States Military Academy Band at West Point (1990-1996) and “Pershing’s Own” United States Army Band (presently).  He has written and arranged hundreds of pieces for bands at all levels.  He wrote Aquia Landing in 2011 “in the classic style of J.P. Sousa using the form that he perfected in the early part of the 20th century.”  He describes his inspiration in the program notes in the score:

Aquia Landing (pronounced /uh kwhy’ yuh/) is located at the confluence of Aquia Creek and the Potomac River in Stafford County, Virginia.  A pivotal transportation hub between southern states and northern ports, passengers, cargo and entire rail cars were transferred from the RF&P Railroad to steamboat vessels which carried them from the Aquia Creek up the Potomac River to Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD.  This key location also positioned Aquia Landing as a major gateway along the ‘Network to Freedom‘ through which fugitive slaves had to pass in order to reach freedom.

Shortly after the start of the Civil War, this important transportation hub became a site of interest to both sides.  Union steamships and Confederate artillery exchanged fire for three days over the landing during the Battle of Aquia Creek (May 31-June 2, 1861).  A year later in April 1862, the Union troops returned to Stafford, rebuilding the landing, and using it as an operations center for approximately five months.  During that period, an estimated 10,000 freedom seekers who sought refuge behind Union lines passed through Stafford, many of whom are believed to have been shipped north from Stafford to Alexandria, VA or Washington, DC.

So what makes Aquia Landing a “Sousa-style” march?  It can be summed up in the form: it opens with a 4-bar introduction, starting on the dominant chord (F major in this case).  It lands firmly on the tonic (B-flat major) for the repeating first strain (m. 5), in which the melody is in the higher instruments.  The melody shifts to the bass instruments in the second strain (m. 22), which also repeats.  An interlude in the percussion (m. 39) leads to the trio (m. 47), which is in a different key (E-flat major, one more flat in everyone’s part), featuring a slower-paced melody.  The trio melody appears a total of three times, each more intense than the one before, and each one separated from the other by a “dogfight” section in which the high and low instruments seem to fight each other.  The march then ends with a classic Sousa stinger.

Click here for a professional-grade recording of Aquia Landing.  If you prefer to hear a live performance, here is an actual middle school band doing it:

Also take a look at Paul Murtha’s publisher, Hal Leonard.

Born on April 23, 1891 in Sontsovka, Ukraine of the former Russian Empire, Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev is considered one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. He was also an accomplished pianist and conductor. He attended the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1904 to 1914, winning the Anton Rubinstein prize for best student pianist when he graduated. Like other great composers he mastered a wide range of musical genres, including symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets, and program pieces [ed: like his most famous work, Peter and the Wolf]. At the time, his works were considered both ultra-modern and innovative. He traveled widely, spending many years in Paris and Ettal in the Bavarian Alps, and toured the United States five times. He gained wide notoriety and his music was both reviled and triumphed by the musical press of the time. He returned to his homeland permanently in 1936. He died on March 5, 1953 in Moscow.

(short biography courtesy www.prokofiev.org)

The website listed above is a essentially a fan site that has collected everything there is to know about Prokofiev and has even gotten surviving family involved in its growth and maintainance.  Look around for anything you’d like to know about him.

Much information is also available at The Serge Prokofiev Foundation.

Prokofiev wrote the March, op. 99 in 1943-44 for a Soviet military band.  It received its premiere in the form of a radio broadcast from Moscow on April 30, 1944.  While the details of the impetus for its composition are unclear, it is possible that it was written for May Day, an important Soviet holiday.  The March made its way to the West in part thanks to Paul Yoder, who arranged it for Western instrumentation shortly after its Russian premiere.  It was first heard in the United States on May 31, 1945 with Serge Koussevitzky conducting the Combat Infantry Band.  Prokofiev reused substantial section of the March in the last opera he would complete, Story of a Real Man, in 1947-48.

It’s worth the trouble of listening to 2 different performances of this work.  One follows the printed tempo (quarter=134).  The other goes much faster, making the March into more of a galop.  See what you think:

I owe much of the information on this page to William Berz’s full score critical edition of this piece.  His description of Soviet band instrumentation is worth quoting directly, since it is so succinct and informative:

Prokofiev’s March, op. 99 was originally written for the instrumentation of the Soviet military band of the time.   As was typical for Soviet composers, the scoring for this march was split into three instrument families:

  • orchestral winds (piccolo, flute, E-flat clarinet, two B-flat clarinets, two E-flat horns, two B-flat trumpets, three trombones);
  • saxhorn family (two cornets, two E-flat alto horns, three trombones in treble clef, baritone in treble clef, tuba);
  • percussion (tambourine, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals)

As you can see, it’s quite different from what we’re used to, hence the need for an arrangement very early in the piece’s existence.

Washington, D.C. native and legendary bandmaster John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) wrote a dozen operettas, six full-length operas, and over 100 marches, earning the title “March King”.  He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at an early age and went on to become the conductor of the President’s Own Marine Band at age 26.  In 1892 he formed “Sousa and his Band”, which toured the United States and the world under his directorship for the next forty years to great acclaim.  Not only was Sousa’s band hugely popular, but it also exposed audiences all over the world to the latest, cutting-edge music, bringing excerpts of Wagner’s Parsifal to New York a decade before the Metropolitan Opera staged it, and introducing ragtime to Europe, helping to spark many a composer’s interest in American music.

Here are some well-researched program notes on Stars & stripes from the Band Music PDF Library.

Stars and Stripes Forever (march) is considered the finest march ever written, and the same time one of the most patriotic ever conceived.  As reported in the Philedelphia Public Ledger (May 15, 1897) “… It is stirring enough to rouse the American eagle from his crag, and set him to shriek exultantly while he hurls his arrows at the aurora borealis.” (referring to the concert the Sousa Band gave the previous day at the Academy of Music). (Research done by Elizabeth Hartman, head of the music department, Free Library of Philadelphia.  [Quote] taken from John Philip Sousa, Descriptive Catalog of his Works (Paul E. Bierley, University of Illinois Press, 1973, page 71)).

The march was not quite so well received though and actually got an over average rating for a new Sousa march.  Yet, its popularity grew as Mr. Sousa used it during the Spanish-American War as a concert closer.  Coupled with his Trooping of the Colors, the march quickly gained a vigorous response from audiences and critics alike.  In fact, audiences rose from their chairs when the march was played.  Mr. Sousa added to the entertainment value of the march by having the piccolo(s) line up in front of the band for the final trio, and then added the trumpets and trombones [to] join them on the final repeat of the strain.

The march was performed on almost all of Mr. Sousa’s concerts and always drew tears to the eyes of the audience.  The author has noted the same emotional response of audiences to the march today.  The march has been named as the national march of the United States.

There are two commentaries of how the march was inspired.  The first came as the result of an interview on Mr. Sousa’s patriotism.  According to Mr. Sousa, the march was written with the inspiration of God.

“I was in Europe and I got a cablegram that my manager was dead.  I was in Italy and I wished to get home as soon as possible.  I rushed to Genoa, then to Paris and to England and sailed for America.  On board the steamer as I walked miles up and down the deck, back and forth, a mental band was playing ‘Stars and Stripes Forever.’ Day after day as i walked it persisted in crashing into my very soul.  I wrote in on Christmas Day, 1896.” (Taken from program notes for the week beginning August 19th, 1923.  Bierley, John Philip Sousa, page 71.)

Researched by Marcus L. Neiman, Medina, Ohio

 

The wikipedia article on Stars & Stripes is bit thin on references, but it does allow you to listen to a vintage recording of Sousa himself conducting the march, from 1909.  The Stars & Stripes page at the Dallas Wind Symphony has other old recordings and Sousa’s original lyrics for the march.

Read more about the Sousa Band and its history at naxosdirect.com. Click the link that says “Read more about this recording.”

Sousa shrine – including biography, complete works, and much more – at the Dallas Wind Symphony website.

John Philip Sousa on Wikipedia

Stars & Stripes is one of many Sousa marches (and other pieces by turn of the 19th-20th century composers) available at the Band Music PDF Library for free.  I encourage any enterprising band directors to take a look.

Check out this legit performance of Stars & Stripes, courtesy of the President’s Own United States Marine Band.  If you don’t like the conductor’s very informative monologue, skip to the performance at around 1:00.

Now, the Muppets’ take on Stars & Stripes:

Finally, an inspiring trombone choir version:

Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) was an influential German composer who explored the fringes of tonality through his music and who was teacher to many a great name in composition.  He grew up and began his career in Germany, but a complicated relationship with the Nazi regime in the 1930s sent him elsewhere.  During that period, he was invited to Turkey, where he helped to reorganize the music education system there.  In 1940, he emigrated to the United States, where he taught primarily at Yale University.  He became an American citizen in 1946, but moved to Zurich in 1953, where he remained for the rest of his life.  He developed his own system of tonality that was not diatonic, but which ranks musical intervals from most-consonant to most-dissonant while still relying on a tonal center.  While this approach sounds purely academic, it resulted in playful, accessible music in Hindemith’s hands.  He was very interested in understanding instrumental technique, to the point that he is said to have learned to play every one of his instrumental sonatas (and there are many, including trumpet, clarinet, trombone, harp, tuba, flute, violin, viola, and bass) on the instrument for which he wrote it.

The Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber came into being in 1943, while Hindemith was living in America.  He was first invited to arrange the music for a ballet on Weber’s themes.  That project fell through when it became clear that he and the choreographer, Leonide Massine, did not see eye to eye.  This left Hindemith free to take Weber’s source material in the direction he pleased.  He used themes from Weber’s little-known piano duets and from his incidental music for the play Turandot, which had also inspired Puccini’s famous opera.  Hindemith casts the Symphonic Metamorphosis in four movements.  The final “March” made its way into the band repertoire in 1950 when the director of bands at Yale, Keith Wilson, completed his arrangement.

The original orchestral version conducted by the composer himself:

And the version we’ll be playing, arranged by former Yale band director Keith Wilson:

Find out more about Hindemith at Wikipedia, the Hindemith Foundation, Schott Publishing, and DSO Kids.

Read up on the Symphonic Metamorphosis at Wikipedia and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

CFW 2013 band directors: click here for free, printable parts for the massed band.

Washington, D.C. native and legendary bandmaster John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) wrote a dozen operettas, six full-length operas, and over 100 marches, earning the title “March King”.  He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at an early age and went on to become the conductor of the President’s Own Marine Band at age 26.  In 1892 he formed “Sousa and his Band”, which toured the United States and the world under his directorship for the next forty years to great acclaim.  Not only was Sousa’s band hugely popular, but it also exposed audiences all over the world to the latest, cutting-edge music, bringing excerpts of Wagner’s Parsifal to New York a decade before the Metropolitan Opera staged it, and introducing ragtime to Europe, helping to spark many a composer’s interest in American music.

Sousa originally wrote Liberty Bell in 1893.  It features the chimes, perhaps in homage to the famous American landmark after which it is named.  The march is now most famous for its use as the theme song to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

The march as used in the opening of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the 1970s British comedy show:

Now here it is in full played by the US Marine Band, complete with a short explanation of the piece by their conductor:

As played by the Rutgers Euphonium Choir:

Program notes on the march from the Concord (MA) Band.

A wealth of information on the Liberty Bell itself, famous crack and all.

Sousa shrine – including biography, complete works, and much more – at the Dallas Wind Symphony website.