Classics for adventurous concert bands

I offer colorful and imaginative arrangements of orchestral and piano music for concert bands. Originally created for adult community bands, my arrangements are particularly appropriate for university and college concert bands, as well as advanced high school wind ensembles. I also offer arrangements for small wind ensembles.

They’re all available for purchase and immediate download from Sheet Music Plus. (About Sheet Music Plus)

Concert Band

Saint-Saens: March-Scherzo from Symphony No. 1

Camille Saint-Saëns was only 17 when he wrote his first published symphony. But he already had a mature mastery of orchestral writing, along with the courage to defy convention: A march takes the place of the normal triple-meter scherzo movement. It’s an unconventional march that starts with an elegant melody, surveys a wide range of emotions, and dissipates into a quiet ending. It’s really neither a march nor a scherzo, but something all its own.

Notes: The first flute and first clarinet are each divided into two solo parts that often play separately, in the manner of orchestral woodwinds. A soprano saxophone replaces one alto saxophone, and is a prominent color. Oboe and bassoon are also featured. The percussion complement is two players on vibraphone and marimba; the vibraphone part is cued to allow performance without the marimba. Extensive cues allow rehearsal and performance without oboes, bassoons, soprano saxophone, and/or mallet percussion.

Duration: approx. 5:00.

Price: $45.00

See the Preview Score for instrumentation details, program notes, and performance notes.

 

Complete performance by the Peninsula Symphonic Winds. Richard Babcock, music director. Featured players: Joe Siegel (soprano saxophone), Nina Siegel (oboe), Joanne Davidson (clarinet), Rheuben Allen (clarinet), Jennifer Hiller (horn)

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Mozart: Rondo from the “Posthorn” Serenade

for Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, and Band

Mozart originally wrote the delightful fourth movement (Rondo) of his “Posthorn” Serenade (No. 9 in D Major, K. 320) as a concertante piece for orchestra featuring the first flute and first oboe. This version is for clarinet and alto saxophone soloists with concert band.

The arrangement preserves the character and woodwind colors of Mozart’s original scoring. It works well for a chamber wind ensemble or a full concert band. The solo and band parts are suitable for good high school players.

Duration: approx. 6:00

Price: $45.00

See the Preview Score for instrumentation details, program notes, and arranger’s notes.

 

Concert performance by Joanne Davidson, clarinet and Joe Siegel, alto saxophone with the Peninsula Symphonic Winds, Ted Marcus guest conductor

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Joplin: Combination March

Combination March is one of Scott Joplin’s earliest piano pieces. He had not yet developed his signature syncopation when he published it in 1896. But this spirited march features a surprising Trio that sounds like a German beer-barrel polka, and a rousing final strain that points the way to ragtime. This band version makes an excellent concert curtain-raiser, finale, or encore. It’s suitable for good high school players.

Notes: When I made this arrangement in 1981, I was unaware of the version Gunther Schuller arranged for his 1976 Footlifters album (and later published). After the first performance of my arrangement, a band member told me about it and lent me the LP. I would consider Schuller’s arrangement a faithful and scholarly “bandstration” of Joplin’s piano piece. Consistent with his “historically authentic” approach to the marches on the album, Schuller seems to have given Combination March the sound it might have had if Joplin had scored it for band in 1896.

Conversely, I treated the piano music as a sketch, adding lines and textures I considered interesting and appropriate without specific concern for historical authenticity. For example, I added a harmonized tenor line characteristic of German and Austrian marches to the repeat of the German-flavored Trio. I also added syncopated accompaniment figures to the final strain. Both band versions retain Joplin’s original keys, making some similar instrumental choices inevitable. But they represent different approaches and intents.

Duration: approx. 2:45

Price: $40.00

See the Preview Score for instrumentation details, program notes, and arranger’s notes.

 

Concert performance by the Peninsula Symphonic Winds. Richard Babcock, Music Director

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Joplin: The Rosebud March

A “new” Golden-Age march for concert band!

Scott Joplin wrote The Rosebud March for piano in 1905. He dedicated it to Tom Turpin, owner of the Rosebud Café, a favorite gathering place for the African-American community in St. Louis, Missouri. Joplin was by then an established composer of the piano rags with which his name remains associated. But he chose to honor his friend with a spirited march that sounds more like Sousa than Joplin. Melodically, it compares favorably with any of the classic marches by Sousa, Fillmore, or King.

This arrangement for concert band evokes the sound of Sousa’s classic marches, as Joplin seems to have intended. It’s comparable in difficulty to The Washington Post or The Stars and Stripes Forever.

Notes: The Rosebud March most likely never entered the band repertory because the African-American Joplin and his piano rags occupied a different world from the (white) mainstream of concert band music. Another possible reason is that, as originally written, The Rosebud March does not fit the standard American march form, which had been well established by 1905. It’s missing an interlude or “break strain.” And following the Trio is an odd coda: A four-measure transitional introduction leading to a copy of the first strain that ends the march.

Joplin’s original piano writing is straightforward, unadorned, and accessible to average pianists. For this band version I devised tenor (trombone and euphonium) countermelodies for the repeats of the first and second strains, and for the final grandioso chorus. I also added obbligato fanfares for three solo trumpets to the repeat of the Trio. Finally, I conformed the march to the standard form by deleting the coda and fashioning a Sousa-inspired interlude from the introduction and the first strain. As far as I know, this is the first complete band version of this march.

The revised edition, published in July 2021, supplements the original full score with a new condensed score that should be easier to use for outdoor performances. It also cleans up some formatting in the parts.

This arrangement is also available for Brass Quintet.

Duration: approx. 3:00

Price: $40.00

See the Preview Score for instrumentation details, program notes, and arranger’s notes.

 

 

Outdoor concert performance by the Peninsula Symphonic Winds. Dr. Berkeley Price, Music Director

Performance by the Wallander Winds.

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Schubert: Marche Militaire No. 3 in E-flat (D. 733)

Franz Schubert wrote three Marches Militaires (“Military Marches”) for four-hands piano between 1818 and 1824 as teaching pieces for the daughters of a Hungarian count. The three marches were published together in 1826. Marche Militaire No. 1 in D major became a smash hit, soon arranged for nearly every conceivable ensemble. That popularity consigned the other two Marches Militaires to undeserved obscurity. But Marche Militaire No. 3 in E♭ major is a little gem, a spirited piece full of delightful melody that makes it a worthy companion for its illustrious sibling. It’s an excellent concert opener, closer, or encore.

This arrangement interprets Schubert’s march for a modern concert band, but I allude to the sound of early 20th century Central European marches. The rich middle brass in those marches invited me to give the horns interesting and important parts rather than the dreaded “pecking” afterbeats.

Written for an adult community band, this “Intermediate-Advanced” arrangement is suitable for a proficient high school band. I would classify it as American Grade 3.5. Only a very few high notes make it slightly more advanced than Grade 3: The flutes and euphonium briefly ascend to a high A♭, and the 1st trombone briefly reaches a high G.

Notes: This is one of several pieces I’ve arranged after “discovering” them on Radio Swiss Classic, a Swiss public brodcaster with a worldwide Internet stream that programs obscure pieces (many undeservedly so) alongside more familiar works. Until I heard the original version of this piece on the radio, I was unaware that Schubert wrote more than one Marche Militaire. I only knew the famous one, a piece my mother liked to play in a version for 2-hands piano.

I have also made an arrangement of this piece for saxophone quartet.

Duration: approx. 5:35 with all repeats, or 4 minutes without repeats

Price: $40.00

See the Preview Score for program notes and arranger’s notes.

 

Performance by the Wallander Winds.

 

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Baker: Black Crook Galop

In 1866, two New York producers brought over a French ballet troupe to perform at the New York Academy of Music. A fire destroyed the Academy shortly before the troupe’s first scheduled performance. The producers asked William Wheatley, the impresario and manager of the Niblo’s Garden theatre, for help in finding a new venue. Wheatley realized the ballet troupe could add some much-needed pizzazz to the melodrama he was then rehearsing. He also added songs, dances, special effects, and plenty of scantily-clad chorus girls. The result was a 5½-hour extravaganza called The Black Crook, which opened at Niblo’s Garden on 12 September 1866. History books often cite it as the first Broadway musical.

The Black Crook really wasn’t the first Broadway musical, but it was an enormous hit. The original production ran for an unprecedented 474 performances, followed by multiple revivals in New York and London. Versions of the show toured the country for the rest of the nineteenth century. Then The Black Crook disappeared into the history books.

The only music that exists from any version of The Black Crook is sheet music published in 1866: One song and four “gems,” selections for piano solo by Thomas Baker, the show’s musical director. This is a unique concert band arrangement of one of those piano selections, a Galop (a lively dance popular in the 19th century) that has musical as well as historical interest. As a restored piece of Americana, it’s particularly suited for outdoor summer concerts; or as a curtain-raiser, finale, or encore for concerts at any time of year.

Duration: approx. 3:00

Price: $40.00

See the Preview Score for instrumentation details, program notes, and performance notes.

 

Outdoor concert performance by the Peninsula Symphonic Winds. Richard Babcock, Music Director. Oboe solo: Nina Siegel.

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Haydn: Theme and Variations from Symphony No. 94

A challenging arrangement of the complete second movement (Andante) of Haydn’s Surprise Symphony. For “advanced” bands.

I’ve used the tonal palette of the modern concert band to offer a fresh approach to a familiar work. The famous theme and one of the variations explore the subtle contrast between bassoon and English horn. I’ve “opened up” the original repeats and scored each one differently, using contrasting colors and combinations of solo clarinet, solo flute, piccolo, and soprano saxophone. A repeated section first has a flute and oboe accompanied with clarinets, then a saxophone quartet on the repeat. One variation features a solo piccolo and bells. And a prominent pair of horns recalls the sound of Haydn’s divertimenti for wind ensemble.

Notes: This arrangement features the bassoon, English horn, and soprano saxophone, but those parts are all fully cued to allow rehearsal or performance in the absence of any or all of them. Two strong horn players are essential; but the third and fourth horn parts are easier, and cued in trombones and euphonium. The bassoon parts use the tenor clef and ascend to a high B♭; the second bassoon has only one 8-measure high passage that doubles the horns and can be omitted if necessary. “Alternate” versions of both bassoon parts use only bass clef but are otherwise identical.

Duration: approx. 6:00

Price: $45.00

See the Preview Score for instrumentation details, program notes, and arranger’s notes.

 

Performance by the Wallander Winds.

Preview Score (PDF)

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Sullivan: Iolanthe Overture

Iolanthe was W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s seventh collaboration, premiering in 1882. It’s a fanciful story about fairies— those mischievous magical winged folk— that satirizes the absurdities of laws, lawyers, Parliament, and (of course) love.

Sullivan usually didn’t even think about the overture for a comic opera until the last minute before the opening, and most often delegated that task to an assistant. The Iolanthe overture was a unique exception. Possibly in response to criticism that he was squandering his talent on comic operas, Sullivan devoted a day and a half to composing an overture much more sophisticated than the usual medley. Using sonata form, he wove together three mostly-complete melodies with fragments of the opera’s elaborate first-act finale. He also included themes not drawn from the opera’s score: A tutti fanfare alternates between triple and duple meter; and “fairy music” inspired by Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream incidental music appears twice in counterpoint to a theme that becomes the overture’s rousing conclusion.

Notes: A flute choir with four separate parts is featured in the introduction and in the “fairy music” sections. The fourth flute part doubles on piccolo. The third and fourth flute parts are cued for clarinets if you don't have four flute players, or if you prefer Sullivan’s original scoring of those passages. Also featured is an extended trumpet or cornet solo.

Duration: approx. 7:30

Price: $45.00

See the Preview Score for instrumentation details, program notes, and arranger’s notes.

 

Complete performance by the Peninsula Symphonic Winds. Richard Babcock, Music Director. Trumpet solo: Mary McKain.

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Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance Overture

An exciting, colorful, and challenging version of the Overture to one of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s most popular and enduring works. It’s intended for “advanced” players: If your band can confidently perform Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture on a concert program, you and your audience will definitely enjoy this arrangement!

Notes: An extended oboe solo is cued for alto saxophone. The prominent E♭ clarinet part is cued for piccolo. The prominent 1st bassoon plays extensively in the high register up to B♭, written in tenor clef. (Important bassoon passages are cued for saxophones. The 2nd bassoon part is easier and entirely in bass clef.) The Mallet Percussion complement is two players on vibraphone, xylophone, bells and marimba; the part is configured to allow performance with one player.

Duration: approx. 8:00

Price: $45.00

See the Preview Score for instrumentation details, program notes, and arranger’s notes.

 

Concert performance by the Peninsula Symphonic Winds. Richard Babcock, Music Director. Alto saxophone solo: Joe Siegel.

Preview Score (PDF)

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Sullivan: Patience Overture

Patience is W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s satire on the Aesthetic movement that was in its heyday when the opera premiered in 1881. Aestheticism exalted “art for art’s sake,” often to the detriment of content or meaning. The topical nature of the plot means Patience is less frequently performed than other Gilbert and Sullivan works. But the opera remains entertaining and relevant because it also satirizes the timeless notions of fads, celebrity, pretentiousness, and (of course) romantic love. That’s all reflected in an elegantly-constructed overture that’s a cut above the usual potpourri of tunes. This colorful band arrangement is fun for players and audiences alike, and makes an exciting concert curtain-raiser or finale.

Notes: A harp adds a color missing from the original theatre orchestra. The optional Keyboard Synthesizer part contains the harp part as well as Mallet Percussion (bells and xylophone). The arrangement also works well without the harp or synthesizer. There is an extended duet for two trumpets or cornets.

I have also made an arrangement of this piece for woodwind quintet.

Duration: approx. 6:00

Price: $45.00

See the Preview Score for instrumentation details, program notes, and arranger’s notes.

 

Concert performance by the Peninsula Symphonic Winds. Richard Babcock, Music Director

Preview Score (PDF)

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Peterson-Berger: Sommarhagen Suite

Three Flowers from Frösö Island (Frosoblomster)

Wilhelm Peterson-Berger (1867-1942) was a Swedish composer and music critic. He spent his summers exploring the countryside, and became captivated by Frösö, an island in Lake Storsjön in northern Sweden. He built a summer house there, which he called Sommarhagen (“Summer Refuge”).

Frösön inspired Peterson-Berger’s best-known work, a collection of 21 short piano pieces called Frösöblomster (“Flowers from Frösö Island”), published between 1896 and 1914. Influenced by the Lyric Pieces of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, these delightful miniatures evoke scenes of nature and life at Sommarhagen.

Sommarhagen Suite includes three of the Frösöblomster: Förspel (“Prelude”), which depicts the construction of Sommarhagen; Sommarsång (“Summer Song”), an idyllic interlude; and Intåg i Sommarhagen (“Entering Sommarhagen”), the composer's celebration of his completed house.

Duration: approx. 10:00

Price: $50.00

See the Preview Score for instrumentation details, program notes, and arranger’s notes.

A personal note  In 2017, I found a CD in the local library by the Stockholm Guitar Trio. Google told me it’s a rare import on a small Swedish label, long out of print and not available anywhere. I have no idea how it ended up in the library. The CD included the sort of Spanish and French repertoire you’d expect for guitars. But the last three tracks were thoroughly delightful pieces I had never heard before, from a suite or collection of some sort called Frösöblomster by a composer I had never heard of, one Wilhelm Peterson-Berger.

The CD liner notes offered scant information about those pieces. But Google and Wikipedia told me that Frösöblomster is a collection of piano pieces that’s very well known in Sweden. Some of the pieces— particularly Sommarsång— are iconic works, as evidenced by the number of Swedish musicians posting performances on YouTube. I would thus suppose the Stockholm Guitar Trio played those selections as concert encores, whose familiarity would delight their usual audiences.

The three Frösöblomster selections on the CD are Intåg i Sommarhagen, Sommarsång, and Lawn Tennis. I knew the first two would work very well for band. When I heard Förspel on a recording of the original piano suite, I knew I had found the first movement of Sommarhagen Suite. Although Lawn Tennis (as Peterson-Berger titled it in English) is actually my favorite of the guitar selections, it did not seem suitable for band. But when one of the Peninsula Symphonic Winds’ flute players asked me to write something for a flute ensemble he belonged to, I immediately thought of Lawn Tennis.

 

The second (Interlude/Summer Song, starting at 1:47) and third (Entering Sommarhagen, starting at 4:53) movements are from a concert performance by the Peninsula Symphonic Winds, Dr. Berkeley Price, Music Director. Alto saxophone solo: Joe Siegel. Because of a problem with the concert recording, the first movement (Building Sommarhagan/Prelude) is performed by my All-Star Robot Band.

Preview Score (PDF)

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Peterson-Berger: Under Midnight Sun (“Gratulation” from Frosoblomster)

Under Midnight Sun is a selection from Wilhelm Peterson-Berger’s Frösöblomster (“Flowers from Frösö Island”), a collection of 21 short piano pieces published between 1896 and 1914. Influenced by the Lyric Pieces of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, these delightful miniatures invoke scenes of nature and life on rural Frösö, an island in central Sweden where the composer spent his summers.

Peterson-Berger titled this “flower” Gratulation (“Congratulations”). He conceived it as a genteel gavotte. But in this concert band arrangement I have reimagined it as a hearty country dance, with horns calling the Frösö islanders to rustic festivities under the Swedish midnight sun. Although the piece depicts a summer celebration, its bright festive colors could equally illuminate a wintertime concert program.

Duration: approx. 3:00

Price: $40.00

See the Preview Score for instrumentation details, program notes, and arranger’s notes.

 

Performance by the Wallander Winds.

Preview Score (PDF)

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