World Music For The Community And College Band

This article first appeared in the WASBE Newsletter - updated 8/26/2004

One of the most important aspects of WASBE is its potential for sharing repertoire ideas. Recommended repertoire lists can be gathered off the internet - everyone has a library of favorite pieces which normally include much the same group of tried and trusted composers, Holst and Vaughan Williams at the beginning of the 20th century, take your pick at the end.

It would be great if conductors actually working with different types of bands wrote into WASBE Newsletter, the website or to Bandchat with ideas on repertoire which they have tried and tested. Below I list a few pieces I have heard in the past couple of years which I think would be worth investigating to replace some of the regular repertoire.


The 19th century and early 20th century romantic repertoire is one of our problems; some of the transcriptions are just too dated and too virtuosic, with clarinets replacing violins in a welter of semiquavers/16th notes. (I wish the British adopted the American methods of naming notes). We still hear performances of Cesar Franck and Saint-Saens transcriptions, but not many of Saint-Saens minor original masterpiece for band, Occident et Orient, now available from Maecenas/Music Masters


While Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral will remain a staple part of the repertoire, Laszlo Marosi has opened up a new aspect of Wagner with his splendid recordings of Wagner Fantasies by Arthur Seidel (1849-1910). These are recorded in splendid performances, sometimes a little coarse at the climaxes but on the whole well-balanced with excellent performances, by the Liszt Academy Symphonic Band Budapest on Hungaraton Classic HCD 31873. For information about these rousing versions of Wagner, contact Laszlo Marosi.


Laszlo Marosi and Tom Everett are two members of WASBE who have worked hard to introduce us to Hungarian music, and two folk suites by Frigyes Hidas, published by Editio Musica Budapest and available through Boosey and Hawkes, will bring a flavour of Eastern Europe into your programmes.


The Irish Youth Wind Ensemble is dedicated to developing an Irish repertoire, and their concerts at the National Concert Hall are always innovative. They recently brought out a disc with seven Irish works, recently reviewed by Leon Bly, and I think that three of those are welcome addition to the Community Band repertoire. The March Bizarre by Gerard Victory is a fun piece with little quirks and turns that you might expect from the former head of music for Radio Eirann, the Wexford Rhapsody by T C Kelley is a rather sentimental stringing together of a few Irish folk tunes, which might be a useful alternative in a Celtic evening to replace a similar work by Clare Grundman, and the Finnegan's Wake which is one of my favorite community band pieces, a quick march full of energy and humour. Contact O'Carroll Music Publishers for more information about the pieces and about WASBE Conference 2007.

Composer Work Duration
Gerard VictoryMarch Bizarre2.51
T C KellyA Wexford Rhapsody6.48
A J PotterFinnegan's Wake3.31


One of my favourite marches remains the March from Versuche uber Einen Marsch by Marcel Wengler, a former student of Hans Werner Henze. The whole work is an 18 minute set of experiments on a traditional German march, experiments which touch on Stravinsky, Berg and Ravel, and the march itself has some surprising twists, with extra beats or half beat. Either the March separately or the whole work will be available in the Autumn of 2004 from Maecenas/Music Masters

Norwegian Dried Peas

A fruitful exploration can be made in the 21 MARCHES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY; they were commissioned by the Norwegian Council for Cultural Affairs and recorded in seven sets of three marches on PSC 163 by the seven professional bands of the Norwegian Defence Forces. The record is published by Pro Musica, Norway for Norsk Kuturräd. Each set consists of a march by a distinguished overseas composers, one by a young Norwegian and one by a more experienced Norwegian composers.

The marches which made a lasting impression on me are listed below. Michael Finnisey's Un-Characteristic March is rather Ivesian, fragment of Norwegian folksongs which can be shuffled and played in any order. Montague looks back with affection to the marching in the Deep South of USA. There is nothing especially original about Knakk but I like the variety of texture and rhythms (and some great playing) also in Nordenstein's Please shut up described as a cheerful comment on all those who intellectualise a lot - about not very much.

Sunde's Charm is a fast moving piece with a hint of the Big Band sound, and I think this could be a terrific encore piece, while Sollid's Later On is similar in its use of rock and funk gestures, a great piece to show off your percussion and solo brass. There is an ironic Russian Bye-gone party march, full of irony, dedicated to the Asshole Party, while Thierry De Mey makes great play with percussive sounds from the instruments, writing a march which is not quite a waltz and not quite a calypso, a strange and intriguing sound world. Dagfinn Koch introduces various quotations into what seems to be a homage to one of the finest Norwegian concert band works, Thommessen's Stabarabesk. I was sad when this one finished. Kjell Samkopf's Gammel Nr 2000 had a straightforward energy which I enjoyed with a few neat jokes; some of the other marches might do as well for you as any of mine, I found them not as interesting, sometimes a little too clever, sometimes too repetitive, but on another day the other eleven might get into my top ten.

Composer Work Duration
Stephen MontagueMarche Militaire02.45
Michael FinniseyUncharacteristic March03.41
Hakon BergeKnakk03.22
Frank NordensteilPlease shut up03.20
Helge SundeCharm04.38
ParteimArschBojidar Spassov03.42
Thierry De MeyEn Passant05.54
Torgrim SollidLater On03.41
Dagfinn KochBeyond Bayat02.19
Gammel Nr. 2000Kjell Samkopf03.16

They are all published by Warner/Chappell Music - Norway and they make a change from Valdres... and it's the only CD recording I know to have some dried peas sealed into the case.


I recently came across a terrific pasodoble by Rodrigo called Pasodoble para paco alcalde. Information from the main Spanish publishing house Piles or

EJR (Ediciones Joaquín Rodrigo)
General Yagüe, 11 - 4 J
28020 Madrid (España)
Tel: (+34) (91) 555 27 28
Fax: (+34) (91) 556 43 35


The Holst and Vaughan Williams works are quoted by Frederick Fennell as the cornerstone of our repertoire, but another work from that period well worth exploring is The Pageant of London (1910) by Frank Bridge, two marches framing three dances, rousing and lyrical stuff, ideal for the community band, professional or honours band, not quite as hard as the Holst works to bring off well. Sometimes hard to find, it is published by a small specialist firm, Da Capo, Colin Bayliss, 26 Stanway Road, Whitefield, Manchester, tel +44 (0) 161 766 5950

Many composers writing today have written wonderful music for both community and professional military bands, music which players will love to tackle and audiences to hear. These include Martin Ellerby, Adam Gorb, Edward Gregson, Philip Sparke and Guy Woolfenden.

I can heartily recommend Derek Bourgeois and Ernest Tomlinson, both with a light touch and fine feeling for a tune. Ernest's Suite of English Dances I first came across over forty years ago playing in the BBC Welsh Orchestra, and they are just as attractive in their new wind band guise. Ernest was born in 1924 so this is a good time to explore this great addition to the literature. Derek has written for wind at all levels but two of his most attractive salon pieces will be eagerly purchased by anyone who knows and loves his Serenade.

Composer Work Publisher
TomlinsonSuite of English DancesNovello/Studio
BourgeoisMolesworth's MelodyHaFaBra
BourgeoisMetro GnomeHaFaBra

Ernest Tomlinson is one of the great exponents of that special genre of British repertoire, light music.

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