"Hymn of Farewell" was the original title of Oraison Funèbre.
The enthusiasm from this event sparked the promoters of the Concerts Vivienne to arrange two repeat performances. These performances prompted accolades from no less than the leading French conductor François Antoine Habaneck and the composer Richard Wagner. Wagner, not yet a household name and struggling to provide an income, was a correspondent for the Dresden Abend-Zeitung. Concerning the performance, he wrote:
I am inclined to rank this composition above all Berlioz' other ones; it is great from the first note to the last. It sustains a noble patriotic emotion which rises from lament to the topmost height of apotheosis. When I further take into account the service rendered by Berlioz in his altogether noble treatment of the military wind band...I must say with delight that I am convinced this "Symphonie" will last and exalt the hearts of men as long as there lives a nation called France.4
According to the Revue et Gazette Musicale of August 6, 1840, there were a total of 207 participants at the first performance. The symphony was again performed at the Opera on November 1, 1840 with 450 musicians. Optional string parts were added for a February 1842 performance, with choral parts added to the last movement soon afterwards. The final version was heard in Brussels on September 26 of the same year with a choral text written by Antony Deschamps and the melody to the Apotheosis adapted for voices. Throughout Berlioz' lifetime the number of performers used varied widely, from 130 instrumentalists in the Conservatoire on November 19, 1843 to a chorus and orchestra of 1800 in the Hippodrome in Paris on July 24, 1846. Despite the diversity of performance areas and personnel, he held very decided opinions of the optimum performance atmosphere. Concerning open-air performances, he was not overly enthusiastic: Berlioz said, "Open-air music is a chimera; 150 musicians in a closed building produce more effect than 1800 in the Hippodrome scattering their harmonies to the winds."5
The instrumentation changed as the music was altered through the years, so a variety of suggested instrumentations exist. The instrumentation as provided here is from the autograph score.6 Earlier French examples of band music pale in comparison. In later years, Berlioz abandoned the outdoor performances and promoted the second and third movements. He referred to the third as his "indestructable war horse", and eventually arranged it for chorus, vocal solo, and piano accompaniment. Even when not performed strictly as a band piece, the winds remained the dominant color, as evidenced by the additional wind players requested whenever strings were added.7
This symphony is among Berlioz' least known works, probably due, in part, to the fact that it is originally a band piece. Although some critics have panned it as inferior to Berlioz's other works, it also has its defenders. Jacues Barzun, author of Berlioz and the Romantic Century, writes "he fully achieved his goal of blending grandeur with nobility and simplicity with elevation..."8 Virgil Thomson, writing for the New York Herald Tribune, wrote the following on the occasion of the symphony's American premiere by the Goldman Band:
The sound of the thing is Berlioz at his best. No other composer has ever made a band sound so dark, so rich, so nobly somber. That sound is not only a beautiful and wondrous thing in itself; it is also part of the work's expressivity. It is everything that could possibly be meant by the adjectives funereal and triumphal. The tunes are noble, too; not one is lacking in sobriety. The whole composition is at once simple, serious and utterly sumptuous. It is as impersonal as a public building and at the same time deeply touching. The touching quality does not come from any private emotional assertion of the composer and still less from any calculated attempt on his part to provoke our tears. It comes, believe it or not, from the perfect taste of his stylistic conception...the military combined with a memorial subject call forth a richness of utterance and an impeccability of tone that make his "Grand Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale" one of the great ceremonial pieces of all time.9
Felix Mendelssohn 6
clarinet in F (2)
clarinet in C (2)
bassett horn (2)
horn in E (2)
horn in C (2)
trumpet in C (2)
|Instrumentation for:||Guard Infantry||Line Infantry|
|Piercing register, to be played lightly|
|flutes, large and small||2||1|
|clarinets in A-flat or G||2||2|
|clarinets in E-flat or D||2||2|
|clarinets in B-flat or A||8||6|
|oboes in E-flat or D||2||2|
|Middle register, to be played stronger|
|cornets in B-flat or A||2||1|
|cornets in E-flat or D||2||1|
|tenorhorns in B-flat or A||2||1|
|bass horns (Baryton) in B-flat or A||1||1|
|bass horns in F or E-flat||2||1|
|Low register, to be played very strong|
|trumpets in E-flat or D||4||4|
|trombones in B-flat or A||2||2|
|bass trombones in F or E-flat||2||2|
|bass tuba in F or E-flat||2||2|
His concept was similar to the pyramid approach advocated by Frances McBeth in his Band Performance Guide where the highest pitched voices do not play as loud as the low voices, thus creating a more acceptable, balanced sound.
In time his ideas took hold, and by mid-century large concert bands of fifty to sixty musicians became common in Prussia. For instance, in 1848 a Prussian infantry band consisted of the following:
|8 to 10 clarinets given the melody, including 2 small clarinets|
|8 to 10 clarinets serving as accompaniment|
|2 first oboes|
|2 second oboes|
|2 basset horns|
|2 flutes or piccolo|
|2 first bassoons|
|2 second bassoons|
|4 trumpets, 2 "ordinaires", 2 with valves|
|4 trombones (ATBB)|
|contrabassoon (often two)|
|tuba, bombardon, or bass horn|
|1 or 2 small drums|
Later, Wieprecht further refined the instrumentation by replacing keyed bugles (Kenthorns) with valved cornets. In 1860 he was given the responsibility of creating bands for thirty-four new infantry and ten new cavalry regiments. This afforded a great opportunity to revise his instrumentation concepts into one plan for all the bands--cavalry, Jäger, artillery, or infantry. His idea was for publishers to score music in accordance with his plan so that the same piece could be purchased and used by any of the types of bands.
|Unified Instrumentation System of 1860|
|clarinet in A-flat||1|
|clarinet in E-flat||2|
|clarinet in B-flat||8|
Wieprecht's stellar career reached its apex in 1867 at the World Competition in Paris. Here his Prussian Imperial Guard Band took first place honors in competition representing bands from nine countries. Wieprecht was also known for composing a number of works for military band, as well as penning numerous arrangements of other composer's music.
Even as Wieprecht used the innovations of instrument development and design to transform the Prussian military bands into a more or less modern form, the same benefits were also realized in the orchestra. The instigation for reform and innovation came first through Berlioz, followed closely by Richard Wagner. Not only was he a revolutionary in music drama, but in orchestration as well. One fundamental change was the doubling of size of the wind section in the orchestra, including the invention of the Wagner tuba that was designed to fill in the harmonic gap between the French horn and the tuba. Another change was in the color of sound that he achieved from the orchestra. His composition technique often created a homogeneous sound in which the harmonic structure was found complete in all three sections--strings, woodwinds, and brass. This explains the relative ease in transcribing his music for wind band--much of the task is already done.
| flute I
clarinet in B-flat I
clarinet in B-flat II
horn in F I
horn in F II
horn in low B-flat I
horn in low B-flat II
trumpet in F I
trumpet in F II
muted snare drums
Instrumentation for Trauersinfonie
Wagner wrote two works for winds early in his career that are somewhat obscure. Weihegruss was written for orchestral brass (4,3,3,1) and male chorus, and performed as ceremonial music for the unveiling of the Statue of King Friedrich August I, on June 7, 1843. The second was the Greeting to Friedrich August II of Saxony, first performed on August 12, 1844, upon the return of the King from a visit to England. The original manuscript for this work, written for military band and male chorus, is in the Houghton Library at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wagner perhaps had more than a passing interest in the royalty he so honored, since his mother was the illegitimate daughter of Prince Friedrich Ferdinand Constantin, brother of Grand Duke Karl August of Weimar, making Richard a somewhat distant blood relation.
The more familiar Trauersinfonie, based on themes from Weber's Euryanthe, was first performed on December 14, 1844. This music was written to aid the torchlight procession that carried the ashes of Carl Maria von Weber from the Dresden train station to their final resting place, some eighteen years after his death in London. Wagner's surname until the age of fourteen was Geyer, and Weber had visited the Geyer household many times, as well as joining them on family picnics. Wagner had conducted Weber's music a number of times prior to 1844 and no doubt considered himself the heir to the German opera tradition to which Weber contributed so richly. This is solemn, yet contemplative music of which Frederick Fennell says "no apology need be made for this music." Indeed the entire mood of the music provides contemporary audiences a stylistic contrast to band music as a whole.
Wagner wrote the Huldigungsmarsch in 1864. The third written score has the inscription "For the Nineteenth Birthday of His Majesty King Ludwig II by Richard Wagner". Wagner was deeply indebted to Ludwig, who pulled Wagner out of a crippling debt and financed the first production of the Ring of the Nibelungen. This was the same Ludwig who was declared insane in 1886 and removed from the throne before he completely depleted the state's coffers on extravagant projects such as the picturesque Neuschwanstein castle, located in the Bavarian Alps.
There are some that speculate that the Kaisermarsch of 1871 was originally scored for band. However, the only score from Wagner's hand is for orchestra. Some claim that Wieprecht, who was the Kaiser's bandmaster scored the work, but Cosima Wagner tells us that Richard withheld his approval when Wieprecht requested permission to transcribe the work. So, caution suggests that this was not an original band work.
Twenty years separate the Trauersinfonie and the Huldigungsmarsch, and with that comes the maturation and evolution of the technique of the composer. Trauersinfonie paralleled the appearance of Rienzi (1842), The Flying Dutchman (1843) and Tannhäuser (1845), while the march came at a time when a more mature Wagner had completed Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and much of Seigfried, Die Meistersinger, and Tristan und Isolde.
| piccolo in E-flat
flute in E-flat
clarinet in E-flat
clarinet in B-flat
cornet in B-flat
trumpet in E-flat
horn in E-flat
Rikard Nordraak wrote the Norwegian national anthem and had devoted his life to developing a true Norwegian style of composition before his untimely death in 1866 at the age of 24. He claimed an advocate and close friend in Edvard Grieg who wrote the Funeral March in Memory of Rikard Nordraak in tribute. Initially written for piano solo, Grieg eventually wrote versions for brass band and military band. It is not clear when the military band version was scored--it could have been as early as 1867, but no later than 1891. C. F. Peters published a military band version in 1899. This piece is in B-flat minor, and not in G minor, as some titles have indicated. The Funeral March was a personal favorite of Grieg, who carried it with him on concert tours and also conducted it personally on occasion. Grieg was fortunate to receive a hearing of his music with the celebrated composer Franz Liszt, at which time the march, the G Major Violin Sonata, and the volume including "Cradle Song," were among the pieces presented.18 Indeed, his burial request included the following:
I wish to be buried in my native town, and I desire that at the interment my Nordraak funeral march--which I always carry with me when I travel--be played as beautifully as possible.
Although mostly neglected, this is nevertheless a quality piece, noble and contemplative, and championed by no less than Richard Franco Goldman and released by Frederick Fennell on compact disc. It demonstrates Grieg's style as a mature melodist and harmonist. Goldman endorses the Trauermarsch enthusiastically as "one of the grandest works for band", containing "great intensity, marvelous color, and immense pathos.19 It is ironic that a work so highly esteemed by the composer himself has suffered neglect, especially in light of the need for more literature from this period of wind band history.
As 19th century Romanticism reached its twilight years two composers provided the greatest influence on the German School--Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. While Mahler would die at the height of his career in 1911, Strauss lived well in to the middle of the 20th century. He composed actively up until his death, but had long since outlived any reputation for innovative thinking, finishing in a style similar to that with which he began.
Strauss' first composition of notoriety was written when he was approximately eighteen. The Serenade for Wind Instruments, Op. 7 showed maturity in technique and style that, in turn, brought him a measure of respect from the music world that would endure for the next sixty-five years. The instrumentation is 2fl., 2ob., 2cl., 2bsn., and 4 horns with a contrabassoon for added bass support. Writing for winds should have been no problem for Strauss as his father was a professional horn player in the Munich Court Orchestra and professor at the Royal School of Music. The Serenade represented a major step towards more successful works such as the famous tone poems to follow, though in 1909 Strauss himself would give it no more credit than simply a "respectable work of a music student." The premiere was given on November 27, 1882 under the baton of Franz Wüllner who later would conduct first performances of Till Eulenspiegel and Don Quixote.20
During the following year the Serenade received several performances, but it was not until it came to the attention of Hans von Bülow that Strauss began to receive significant notoriety. Von Bülow not only placed it in his regular repertoire but also suggested that Strauss compose another work for the same combination. Strauss gladly set to work and already had the opening Allegretto and a Romanze finished, only to find out that von Bülow had in mind a form befitting a Suite. So Strauss met the demand by finishing with a Gavotte and an Introduction and Fugue as the final two movements. Some time later von Bülow provided Strauss the opportunity to conduct the Suite in B-flat, Op. 4 at an afternoon concert. The Meiningen Orchestra was on tour, so Bülow refused Strauss any rehearsal time. Though he had never picked up a baton, the somewhat terrified Strauss elected to not pass on the opportunity, commenting: "I conducted my piece in a state of slight coma; I can only remember today that I made no blunders." Thus launched a second career as a conductor since von Bülow made him assistant conductor within the month. It is confusing that the Suite is listed as op. 4 while the earlier Serenade is op.7, but this is due to the fact that the Suite was not published until 1911 and was given an opus number originally intended for an overture that was never published.21 Many years later he would return to the winds as a composition medium.
In 1942 Europe was in the throes of war, and Strauss and his wife Pauline were frustrated with sickness and health problems connected with advancing age. Accolades continued to come his way as a celebrated composer, as he received the Beethoven Prize from the city of Vienna. As a return gesture he penned a stirring Festmusik for the Vienna Trompeterchor supported by trombones, tubas, and timpani. Strauss conducted the work himself in April of 1943, and being personally pleased with its success, he honored a request by the Trompeterchor to shorten the somewhat formidable piece of fifteen minutes' length to something that could more easily be put into their regular repertoire.22 The resulting Fanfare der Stadt Wien is one of the most effective pieces in the brass wind repertoire.
A wealth of memories embraced Strauss as he fondly recalled the earlier wind works that served as a catalyst in launching his career as both composer and conductor. He had for a long time felt that he had miscalculated the balance between horn and woodwinds in the earlier attempts and wanted to explore the concept again--this while acknowledging that he clearly had nothing new of importance to say. By February 21 he had finished the Romanze and Minuet, in which he used only two horns but added a basset horn and bass clarinet. He then tackled the outer movements in which he restored the 3rd and 4th horns and added a fifth clarinet in C. The clarinet in C was to help reinforce the upper register without the shrill qualities of the E-flat clarinet, a technique that he had used in his later operas. He affectionately referred to this new endeavor as: I Sonatine für Blasinstrumente Aus der Werkstatt eines Invaliden ("from the workshop of an invalid"). He arranged for the first performance to be given by the Tonkünstlerverein du Dresden, where his Serenade, op. 7 originally premiered. The performance did not take place until June 18, 1944.
The Symphonie für Bläser was completed by the end of June 1945, soon after the European armistice. More in the style of the Sonatina, it nevertheless received the title of symphony at publication, no doubt because of its nearly 40 minutes of length. It was subtitled Frölich Werkstatt or "Cheerful Workshop" and dedicated to "the spirit of the immortal Mozart at the end of a life of thankfulness"--all this despite the desperate circumstances in which Strauss and his family found themselves. His assets were frozen and he was under scrutiny for supposed collaboration with the Third Reich, so under the encouragement of friends, he and his family took refuge in Switzerland for the next four years.23
When Dvorák penned his Serenade, Op.44 in 1878, he was enjoying a time of great success. Scored for 0222,cbsn/3000 with added cello and doublebass, it hearkens back to the qualities of Classical chamber music with the added touch of his melodic genious. This is cheerful music, with genuine qualities that make it very easy to listen to. No less than Johannes Brahms admired this work and recommended it to his publisher Simrock and to his friends Joseph Joachim and Theodore Billroth. In writing to his old friend Billroth he said:
I very much recommend to you a Serenade of Dvorák for wind instruments which also has appeared for four-hand piano playing and is one of the best that has been composed by himself. It ought to give you great pleasure.24
Dvorák was indebted to Brahms for championing his cause on numerous occasions.
A complement to the Dvorák Serenade is the Petite Symphonie in B-flat by Charles Gounod, written during his 69th year. Gounod was a most successful composer of opera in the mid-nineteenth century, and his gift of melody is not lost in this engaging work for winds. The Petite Symphonie is scored for 1222/2000. It was written for the Société de Musique de chambre pour instruments à vent, whose leader was the flautist and conductor Paul Taffenel.
There were other works for winds written in Europe during the nineteenth century that may be of interest to the reader. The Notturno in C, op.34 by Spohr (1815) is a piece in six movements and incorporates Turkish influences in the percussion. Marches by Gaetano Donizetti (1835) and by Gioacchino Rossini (1851) are the result of commissions by Donizetti's brother, Giuseppe, who was in charge of Turkish military bands under the Sultan Abdul Medjid beginning in 1832. The Overture in C by Louis Jadin and the Overture in F by Hyacinth Jadin were written during the years of the French Revolution, while the Three Grand Military Marches by Hummel date from c.1820. Other marches include the Apollo March and March in E-flat by Anton Bruckner, March Orient et Occident by Camille Saint Saëns, and Marche Militaire by Peter Tchaikowsky.
1Boris Schwarz, French Instrumental Music Between the Revolutions (1789-1830) (New York: Da Capo Press, 1987), 10-12.
2David Whitwell, "Reicha's Commemoration Symphony for Band," Journal of Band Research 9:2 (Spring 1973): 36-37.
3Facsimile in Karlovicz, Souvenirs Inédits de Chopin (s.n.: A.R., n.d.), 419.
4Frank P. Byrne, album notes for Hector Berlioz, recording of The United States Marine Band, conducted by Col. John R. Bourgeois.
5Journal des Debats, July 29, 1846.
6New edition of The Complete Works of Hector Berlioz (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1967 (1986)) Vol. 19, p. .
7Complete works of Berlioz, Vol. 19, p. IX-X.
8Jacques Barzun, Berlioz and the Romantic Century Vol. I 3rd ed. rev. from first (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), 364.
9Richard Franco Goldman, The Wind Band: Its Literature and Technique (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1961), 218.
10David F. Reed, "The Original Version of the Overture for Wind Band of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy," Journal of Band Research 18:1 (Fall 1982): 3-7.
11David Whitwell, A New History of Wind Music (Evanston, Illinois: The Instrumentalist Co., 1972): 27.
18John Jay Hilfiger, "Edvard Grieg's Funeral March in Memory of Rikard Nordraak for Military Band," Journal of Band Research Vol. 24 No. 2 (Spring, 1989), 12-14.
20Norman Del Mar, Richard Strauss - A Critical Commentary on His Life Works Volume I (London: Chilton Book Company, 1962), 9-10.
21Ibid., Vol. I, 9-13.
22Ibid., Vol. III, 412-413.
24Hans Barkan, translator and editor, Johannes Brahms and Theodore Billroth - Letters from a Musical Friendship. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957), p. 80.
1Schwartz, p. 13.
2Ernest Newman, Memoirs of Hector Berlioz from 1803 to 1865 comprising his travels in Germany, Italy, Russia, and England (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1932), 325-326.
1Episode of the Belgian Revolution, 1830, by Egide Charles Gustave Wappers, 1834. Public domain.
2Excerpt from portrait of François-Joseph Gossec by Antoine Vestier. Public domain.
3Engraved portrait of Anton Reicha by M.F. Dien, 1815. Used by permission.
4Portrait of Hector Berlioz by Emile Signol, 1831-1832. Public domain.
5Photograph of the Place de la Bastille and the July Column, taken by Kaihsu Tai, 1999. Used by permission.
6Watercolor portrait of Felix Mendolssohn Bartholdy by James Warren Childe, 1839. Public domain.
7Photograph of Wilhelm Wieprect, photographer unknown. From R. Cadario, "Un genio musicale per i fiati", Unisono 18 (Sept. 30, 2002): 27. Used by permission of the Schweizer Blasmusikverband SBV.
9Portrait of Wilhelm Friedrich III, King of Prussia, artist unknown. Public domain.
10Photograph of unidentified bands at the Paris Exposition, 1867, photographer unknown. From the web site The Internet Bandsman's Everything Within. Used by permission.
11Photograph of Richard Wagner, taken by Franz Hanfstaengl, 1871. Public domain.
12Photograph of Edvard Grieg, photographer unknown. Public domain.
13Photograph of Richard Strauss, photographer unknown, prior to 1918. From Modern Music and Musicians (New York: University Society, 1918). Public domain.
14Photograph of Richard Strauss, photographer unknown, 1940s? Public domain.
15Photograph of Antonín Dvorák, photographer unknown. Public domain.
16Photograph of Charles Gounod, photographer unknown. From Rupert Hughes, The Love Affairs of the Great Musicians, vol. II (Boston: L.C. Page, 1903). Used under Project Gutenberg license: "This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org."
17Self-portrait of Louis (Ludwig) Spohr. Public domain.