News & Views Saturday, July 21, 2018

Introduce Your Young Band to Classical Literature Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Are you looking to add more variety to your concert program?  Why not work up an arrangement from the classical/orchestral repertoire?  Let’s face it, classical arrangements often get lost in the shuffle of standard marches, required adjudication selections, and the overwhelming amount of excellent original works for band, but are a great way to vary your programming, expose your students to different stylistic periods of playing and composition, and round out their music education.

There are a number of really good, new classical arrangements for beginning to intermediate level concert bands ranging from the beautiful simplicity of J.S. Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring to Moussorgsky’s haunting The Old Castle, from the staple of American classical music Grand Canyon Suite to the lushness of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet, and the fun of featuring your low brass on Saint-Saens’ Elephants and your trumpet section on the familiar themes in Trumpets of Symphony Hall.

For more great classical arrangements head over to our Concert Band Listening Library and click on the From the Classics links under each category!

Elephants (from Carnival of the Animals)
Camille Saint-Saens/arr. Matt Conaway
Grade 1.5
Bring those low voices into the spotlight! In this setting from Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, Matt Conaway has created an accessible and audience-friendly feature for those oft-forgotten basses in the back that is also a fun choice for recruiting performances!

Themes from Grand Canyon Suite
Ferde Grofe/arr. Douglas E. Wagner
Grade 2
Too good to pass up! Introduce your students to this staple of American classical music with this true-to-the-original arrangement by Douglas Wagner. Beautiful and loaded with instrumental color and texture, this work features 4 of the 5 movements (Sunrise, On the Trail, Sunset, and Cloudburst), with plenty of musical and style contrast, and also provides a built in social studies lesson.

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
J.S. Bach/arr. Samuel R. Hazo
Grade 2
Perfect as a warm-up, pre-performance contest selection, or lyrical offering, Samuel Hazo has created an accessible arrangement of this Bach classic by moving the time signature into 3/4 and writing the rhythmic motion as quarter notes. Warm and buoyant, the legato, flowing nature of this work is perfect for getting air moving, and the rolling quarter note rhythms warm up the fingers without many tonguing concerns.

The Old Castle (from Pictures at an Exhibition)
Modeste Moussorgsky/arr. Robert W. Smith
Grade 2.5
One of the coolest sounding pieces of classical music, your students will love playing this gorgeous, mature-sounding selection. Opening with a trumpet and trombone statement of the stately Promenade, the work moves into a faithful arrangement of the haunting original complete with its eerie colors and textures, incessant ‘heartbeat’ and 3/4 motion.

Pictures at an Exhibition
Modeste Moussorgsky/arr. Timothy Loest
Grade 1
One of the most colorful works in the classical repertoire, this concise arrangement features 3 distinct movements: the stately Promenade; powerful, workmanlike Oxcart; and the majestic Great Gate of Kiev. Your audience will be impressed by the mature sound, and you can even coordinate a lesson with your art teacher!

Slavonic Dance #1, Op. 46, #1
Antonin Dvorak/arr. Michael Story
Grade 1
Originally composed in 1886 for four-hand piano, this beginning band transcription/reduction develops the charismatic melody and offers opportunity to explore varied timbres with your beginning band, and introduce or reinforce 3/4 time.

Swan Lake
P.I. Tchaikovsky/arr. Jack Bullock
Grade 2
If your students enjoy the scores to Harry Potter, then the haunting, flowing melody from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake will seem familiar, and is a perfect introduction to ‘classical’ repertoire.  Underscoring the title dancer as he is turned into a swan, this arrangement is perfect for developing ensemble musicianship, programmatic playing, and introducing students to ballet.

Trumpets of Symphony Hall
arr. Todd Stalter
Grade 1.5
Add a touch of light novelty to your concert, introduce your band to some standard classical themes, and feature your trumpets all at the same time!  Your audience will enjoy the variety of this arrangement showcasing themes by Beethoven, Mozart, Dvorak, Haydn, Brahms, and more, while your trumpet section and ensemble navigate multiple changes of playing style and dynamics.

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