Classics for small wind ensembles

I offer colorful and imaginative arrangements of orchestral and piano music for concert bands and small wind ensembles. They’re all available for purchase and immediate download from Sheet Music Plus. (About Sheet Music Plus)

Brass Quintet

Joplin: The Rosebud March

for Brass Quintet: 2 B♭ Trumpets, Horn, Trombone, and Tuba

A “new” Golden-Age march for brass quintet!

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 brass quintet arrangement is adapted from my arrangement for concert band. It evokes the sound of Sousa’s classic marches, as Joplin seems to have intended. It’s an “intermediate-advanced” piece suitable for college, adult, and good high school players. Both trumpets go up to the C above the staff; the trombone goes up to the A above the staff.

Notes: The Rosebud March most likely never entered the march 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 brass quintet version I devised trombone countermelodies for the repeats of the first and second strains, and for the final grandioso chorus. I also added obbligato fanfares for the 1st trumpet 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.

Duration: approx. 3:00

Price: $15.00

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

 

Performance by members of the Wallander Winds.

 

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Kern: The Bullfrog Patrol

for Brass Quintet: 2 B♭ Trumpets, Horn, Trombone, and Tuba

Jerome Kern wrote this ragtime-flavored march tune in 1919 for the Duncan Sisters, a popular vaudeville duo then featured in the long-forgotten musical, She’s a Good Fellow. The song tells the story of two amorous bullfrogs whose clamorous courtship “serenade” goes on all night, to the dismay of neighboring people and dogs, until the exhausted amphibians jump back into their pond at sunrise. Kern uses the “patrol” form for this song. A patrol is normally an instrumental piece that depicts a marching band approaching, passing by, and receding into the distance. It’s quite unusual for a musical theatre song.

My arrangement for brass quintet conveys all the lighthearted fun of the original song. Everyone gets a turn in the spotlight with a solo or the melody. It makes a great encore, or it can provide balance for more serious works on a program. This is an intermediate-level piece suitable for high school players.

Duration: approx. 3:25

Price: $15.00

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

 

Performance by members of the Wallander Winds.

 

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Clarinet Quartet

Borodin: Nocturne and Serenade from Petite Suite

for Clarinet Quartet: 2 B♭ Clarinets, E♭ Alto Clarinet*, and Bass Clarinet

Two mellifluous selections from Alexander Borodin’s Petite Suite, a set of seven piano miniatures. Borodin subtitled the flowing, expressive Nocturne “Lulled by the happiness of being in love.” Serenade, subtitled “Dreaming of love,” evokes a love song accompanied by the strumming of a guitar. It’s perhaps best known as “Night of My Nights” from the stage and screen musical, Kismet. (For that popular-song “adaptation,” Robert Wright and George Forrest slightly simplified the melody and added a new ending. But otherwise the music is Borodin’s Serenade.)

Both pieces are great music for weddings or chamber ensemble concerts. This arrangement is appropriate for advanced high school clarinetists, as well as college and adult players. I used the alto clarinet to give that often-neglected instrument some nice melodies to play, and also to put those melodies in a more effective register than they’d have on the B♭ clarinet.

*If you don’t have an E♭ Alto Clarinet, I include alternate parts for Basset Horn and a 3rd B♭ Clarinet.

This arrangement is also available for Woodwind Quintet.

Duration: approx. 3:45

Price: $15.00

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

 

Performance by members of the Wallander Winds.

 

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Brahms: Three Saint Antoni Variations (from Variations on a Theme by Haydn)

for Clarinet Quartet: 3 B♭ Clarinets and Bass Clarinet

This suite from Johannes Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn includes the Chorale St. Antoni (theme), the gently flowing and rhythmically challenging Sicilienne (Variation 7), and Variation 6 as a rousing finale. An intermediate-level arrangement suitable for good high school students.

Duration: approx. 5:30

Price: $15.00

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

 

 

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Chopin: Contredanse

for Clarinet Quartet: 3 B♭ Clarinets and Bass Clarinet

An arrangement of a charming piano miniature by the 17-year-old Frédéric Chopin that captivated me when I first heard it on the radio.

Transposed to F from the original G♭ major, it’s an Intermediate-level piece suitable for high school and adult players. A delightful selection or encore for “Solo and Ensemble” concerts, an ensemble interlude for band concerts, or for weddings. Players and audiences alike will surely enjoy this arrangement.

This arrangement is also available for Woodwind Quintet.

Duration: approx. 1:40

Price: $15.00

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

 

 

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Chopin: Military Polonaise, Op. 40 No. 1

for Clarinet Quartet: 3 B♭ Clarinets and Bass Clarinet

The best-known of the seventeen polonaises Frédéric Chopin wrote for piano. Originally in A major, this arrangement is transposed to concert E♭. Suitable for advanced high school clarinetists, and for college and adult players. It’s a fun selection for “Solo and Ensemble” concerts and festivals.

Duration: approx. 4:45 with all repeats (the demo omits some repeats)

Price: $15.00

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

 

 

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Dvorak: Tittle-Tattle from Poetic Tone Pictures, Op. 85 No. 11

for Clarinet Quartet: 3 B♭ Clarinets and Bass Clarinet

This is a little gem from a collection of short piano pieces Antonín Dvořák wrote in 1889. He called the collection Poetické nálady, “Poetic Moods.” But outside the Czech Republic it’s known by the German title his publisher gave it, Poëtische Stimmungsbilder— “Poetic Tone Pictures.” The pieces are indeed little musical pictures of scenes with a range of moods from mournful and heroic to sensual and humorous. Most of the pieces are idiomatically pianistic and rather difficult.

The 11th piece in the collection, Na Táčkách, “Tittle-Tattle,” is a playful depiction of gossip and idle chit-chat. It’s charming, colorful, and replete with harmonic surprises and tempo changes. It works very well for clarinet quartet. This arrangement will delight clarinetists and audiences alike. I consider it an “Intermediate-Advanced” piece, suitable for proficient high school clarinetists as well as for college and adult players.

Notes: Arrangers and transcribers strive for the ideal of creating something that sounds like the composer must have conceived it for the new ensemble. I’ve found this goal impractical for quartet versions of piano or orchestral music. Too much needs to be sacrificed or altered. A “good” arrangement merely needs to be enjoyable for players and listeners.

But of all the quartet arrangements I’ve done so far, “Tittle-Tattle” is the closest I’ve gotten to the ideal. It helps that Dvořák chose a good key, and wrote most of it in effective registers for clarinets. I did need to adjust a few passages for range, and a few others for contrast. I also added some bits of harmony implied in the original, to supply some of the texture provided by the piano’s sustaining pedal. But it almost seemed as if Dvořák had concealed a clarinet quartet in this piece, which I finally uncovered 131 years later.

Duration: approx. 4:15

Price: $15.00

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

 

Performance by members of the Wallander Winds.

 

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Granados: Andaluza (Playera) Spanish Dance from Danzas Españolas, Op. 37 No. 5

for Clarinet Quartet: 3 B♭ Clarinets and Bass Clarinet

Enrique Granados’ popular Spanish Dance for piano evokes the flamenco guitar. This colorful arrangement offers great opportunities for expressive playing and interpretive freedom. Transposed to concert F minor from the original E minor. Suitable for advanced high school clarinetists, and for college or adult players.

Notes: Granados did not give the twelve Danzas Españolas individual titles. Publishers devised titles for them beginning with the first edition, issued in three volumes in the early 1890s. Some publishers titled No. 5 Andaluza, while others called it Playera. Both are equally appropriate. The piece is a playera, a spirited rhythmic dance in 3/4 time from the Andalusia region of Spain. (Andaluz means “Andalusian.” It’s in the feminine form here, presumably because it implicitly means an Andalusian dance– Danza Andaluza.) So you’ll find this popular work in piano anthology books and on recordings under both titles. There also seems to be disagreement about the opus number for Danzas Españolas. It’s Opus 5 in some editions and Opus 37 in others. Some publishers avoid that problem by omitting the opus number.

Duration: approx. 3:45

Price: $15.00

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

 

Performance by members of the Wallander Winds.

 

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Grieg: Wedding Day at Troldhaugen (from Lyric Pieces, Op. 65 No. 6)

for Clarinet Quartet: 2 B♭ Clarinets, Alto Clarinet or Basset Horn, and Bass Clarinet

This arrangement is intended for advanced players at the college, university, or professional level, although a very proficient high school group should be able to play it. My intent is to present Edvard Grieg’s well-known piano miniature as faithfully as possible for a clarinet quartet. The only simplification I’ve made is to transpose it up half a step from the original D major. It’s a musically satisfying teaching piece that will also delight audiences in a “solos and ensembles” concert, or perhaps as music for a wedding.

I use the Alto Clarinet or Basset Horn in this arrangement to properly render the low empty fifths that begin and occur throughout the piece, providing the Norwegian folk-tune flavor Grieg intended. Raising the pitch enough to accommodate a B♭ clarinet in its place would unduly alter the color and character of the music. And a thousand thanks to Jim Mack for reviewing the draft of this arrangement and providing invaluable suggestions.

Duration: approx. 6:00

Price: $18.00

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

 

Performance by members of the Wallander Winds.

 

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Haydn: Symphony No. 88 Finale (4th Movement)

for Clarinet Quartet: 3 B♭ Clarinets and Bass Clarinet

The complete ebullient finale of Haydn's Symphony No. 88. This arrangement is intended for advanced players at the college, university, or professional level, although a very proficient high school group should be able to play it. I transposed it to F major from the original G major. It’s a fun piece for the players (all four get to play parts of the melody or leading line), and a joyful selection appropriate for any concert program.

Notes: Leonard Bernstein’s 1984 live concert recording with the Vienna Philharmonic inspired this arrangement. As you’d expect from Bernstein, it’s an idiosyncratic performance that at times puts the symphony's sunny cheerfulness on full display; while at other times he seems intent on giving it the gravity of Beethoven or Mahler.

The concert preserved on that recording was also videotaped. A segment of the video, an encore in which Bernstein repeats the finale but conducts it with only his face, is a famous clip on YouTube that’s worth looking up. It seems to have become a kind of projective test for commentators, who interpret it as everything from exemplary leadership to Lenny’s enormous ego compelling attention by not conducting.

Bernstein takes this movement at a breathless tempo that’s probably impractical for clarinets, because it would literally leave them breathless. (His 1963 recording with the New York Philharmonic takes it even faster.) I think the real reason Bernstein stood all but motionless during that encore was to immerse himself in the the unfettered joy this music expresses. And that’s what performers of my arrangement should strive for, even at a more reasonable tempo.

The 2007 reissue of the CD adds Bernstein and the Wieners’ equally fine and idiosyncratic performance of Haydn’s 94th Symphony (“Surprise”) from 1986. That recording inspired my arrangement of the famous second movement of that symphony for concert band.

I have also arranged this piece for Woodwind Quintet.

Duration: approx. 4:00

Price: $15.00

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

 

Performance by members of the Wallander Winds.

 

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Flute Quartet

Peterson-Berger: Lawn Tennis from Frosoblomster

for Flute Quartet, Flute Choir, or mixed Woodwind Quartet

A delightful arrangement of Wilhelm Peterson-Berger’s “Lawn Tennis,” from Frösöblomster (“Flowers from Frösön Island”). Frösöblomster is a collection of piano miniatures in the Romantic nationalist style of Grieg, inspired by the composer’s summer vacations on rustic Frösön Island in northern Sweden. The pieces have remained popular in Sweden for over a century. Peterson-Berger’s depiction of a summertime tennis game is ideally suited for flutes.

This flute quartet arrangement is scored for 2 C Flutes, Alto Flute, and Bass Flute. It’s also suitable for a larger flute choir. I’ve provided optional parts for B♭ Clarinet (alternate for Alto Flute), Bass Clarinet, and Bassoon (both alternate for Bass Flute), to allow performance by a mixed woodwind quartet.

Duration: approx. 3:00

Price: $15.00

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

 

 

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Saxophone Quartet

Bartok: Romanian (Rumanian) Folk Dances

for Saxophone Quartet: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone

In addition to being a composer, pianist, and teacher, Béla Bartók was an ethnomusicologist well before that word even existed. At the beginning of the 20th century, he visited rural areas of his native Hungary, as well as Romania and neighboring countries, collecting folk music using an Edison cylinder phonograph to record performances by peasants and villagers. He incorporated that music into his compositions, adding harmony and accompaniment in his own distinctive style.

Romanian Folk Dances is a suite of seven short dance tunes from Transylvania. It’s one of the most popular of Bartók’s works based on folk music. He wrote the suite for piano in 1915, and then reworked it (with some changes) for small orchestra in 1917. Unlike some of Bartók’s later works, Romanian Folk Dances is consistently tuneful and accessible, with just enough tangy harmonies to give it a delightfully “exotic” flavor.

My arrangement for saxophone quartet is for “Advanced Intermediate” players. It’s intended for adults and college students, but good high school players should also be able to perform it. It’s mainly based on the orchestra version of the suite, and transposed into friendlier keys. Consistent with the dances’ origins as music for fiddle or pennywhistle, the soprano saxophone has the leading role. But the other players all get their time in the spotlight. This is a fun piece for players and audiences alike.

Duration: approx. 5:00

Price: $18.00

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

 

 

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Dvorak: Waltz (2nd Movement) from Serenade for Strings, Op. 22

for Saxophone Quartet: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone

The second movement (marked Tempo di Valse) of Antonín Dvořák’s popular Serenade for Strings. This arrangement is transposed down half a step into c minor, but not otherwise simplified. I consider this an “Intermediate-Advanced” piece, suitable for proficient high school saxophonists as well as for college and adult players.

Notes: I “discovered” the Dvořák Serenade for Strings when I was in high school. I found the Serenade a pleasantly sunny and tranquil work, quite effective for relieving stress. But the second movement seemed an enigmatic contradiction— a fleet and buoyant waltz in a minor key, that mixed joy and sorrow to somehow transcend both emotions. I later learned that using the minor mode in contexts that aren’t sad or melancholic was characteristic of Dvořák’s style, combining his interpretation of Bohemian folk music with standard European forms.

Duration: approx. 6:00 (the demo omits a repeat)

Price: $15.00

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

 

 

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

for Saxophone Quartet: Soprano, Alto, Tenor (or Alto 2), Baritone

Franz Schubert wrote a set of three Military Marches for four-hands piano, which were first published 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 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.

This is an Intermediate-Advanced arrangement for saxophone quartet. It’s suitable for proficient high school players, and makes an excellent concert opener, closer, or encore. I’ve included an optional 2nd Alto part as an alternate for the Tenor.

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.

In my research for this arrangement, I found that most published versions of what probably is Schubert’s best known work are simply titled Marche Militaire or Militär-Marsch. That includes the 1880 arrangement for 6 hands piano— yes, that’s 3 players squeezed together at one piano— whose cover I adapted for my arrangement. Only a few mentioned “No. 1” in the title. I also found five versions of No. 1 for saxophones, one of which is available for free download on the IMSLP Web site (click on the “Arrangements and Transcriptions” tab).

I have also made an arrangement of this piece for concert band.

Duration: approx. 6 minutes with all repeats, or 4 minutes without repeats

Price: $15.00

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

 

 

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Trumpet Quartet or Section

Star Spangled Banner

for Trumpet Quartet or Trumpet Section

I originally wrote this arrangement in 1979 for the trumpet section of my college band to play before basketball games. Suitable for a trumpet quartet, or for a full trumpet choir or section, it will add a bright, patriotic touch to sporting events and festivities. It can also provide a bright and colorful alternative to a traditional full band arrangement as a concert opener.

A four-measure introduction invites the audience or spectators to stand. At the end of the anthem, two 4/4 measures provide the traditional pauses while keeping all the players together without a conductor (as the players in my college band preferred).

The 1st part includes a descant passage and two flourishes that ascend to the C above the staff. The flourishes can be taken down an octave if necessary. As the 4th part is in a rather low range (descending to the A below the staff), I include optional alternative parts for Trombone or Euphonium and treble-clef Baritone that can double or replace the 4th trumpet part.

Includes full-page (“letter”) and marching flip-folder (“octavo”) versions of each part.

Price: $15.00

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

 

Performance by members of the Wallander Winds.

 

Preview Score (PDF)

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