Revolution and Nineteenth-Century Europe

Episode of the Belgian Revolution, 1830, by E.C.G. Wappers, 1834
Episode of the Belgian Revolution, 1830, by E.C.G. Wappers, 1834 1

Among all the fine arts, music is the one which exercises the greatest influence on the passions, and it is the one which legislators should most encourage.
     --Napoleon Bonaparte

When the peasants stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the course of French history was unalterably changed. In time the monarchy and aristocracy were destroyed, the church lost its political status, and the hope of liberty knocked at the door of the common man throughout Europe until the time of Napoleon's coronation. Led by Robespierre, the most militant segment of the revolution searched for an emotional catalyst to rally the commoners known as the "third estate" into a feeling of nationalistic pride. Music has often been a catalyst for stirring the emotions and arousing sentiment during times of revolution, and France was certainly not the exception. The ruling bourgeoisie needed something to affect the common people who congregated in outdoor mass assemblies. The wind band became vital to the effort, and as a result, went through a metamorphosis that proved to be the dawn of the modern concert band.

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The Paris Conservatory

It was during this period of French history that the famous Paris Conservatory was established. Sarrette's limited funds could not sustain the Corps de Music de la Garde Nationale indefinitely. So to provide instruction on the various instruments and help the band to perpetuate itself, he secured the establishment of a free municipal school, the Ecole gratuite de Musique de la Gard Nationale Parisienne, founded on June 9, 1792 and funded by the city of Paris. One hundred twenty students, sons of Guard members of age ten to twenty, received free music instruction on wind instruments by members of Sarratte's Guard band. The school was sanctioned by the Constitutional Assembly, and became officially known as the Conservatoire de musique (or Paris Conservatory), in 1795 although classes did not begin until a year later.1
Francois-Joseph Gossec
Francois-Joseph Gossec 2

In September 1789 Bernard Sarrette, a captain in the National Guard, formed a band of forty-five players for the purpose of performing at civic festivals and demonstrations. A band was the logical choice for outside occasions, due to the sheer volume of sound required and the intonation problems string players might encounter. Sarrette was not a musician, so his contribution to this endeavor was mainly administrative. Francois-Joseph Gossec, a leading French symphonic composer, assisted by his seventeen-year-old student, Charles Simon Catel, undertook the musical directorship of the Corps De Musique de la Garde Nationale. It was their responsibility to direct the band and compose music deemed appropriate for special occasions. The sheer size of the band was revolutionary in itself, being over five times the size of the wind octet which was still the standard size in the military establishments and courts throughout the rest of Europe. By the end of 1789 the 45-member band grew to 78 members, only to be reduced to 54 in 1792.

2 piccolos
1st, 2nd B-flat clarinets
2 horns in F
2 trumpets
2 bassoons
bass trombone
Instrumentation for
Overture in F
by Etienne-Nicolas Méhul

To understand the nature of these festivals one must understand that they "were born of a curious mixture of exalted idealism and political necessity, of public education and propagandist showmanship."1 Times were very uncertain with the annihilation of the ruling elite on the inside, and the threat of war and invasion from without, so the revolutionaries needed a variety of motivations that would unify and encourage the populace to thoughts of nationalism. The festivals were designed both to educate the populace in the ways of the new Republic and to boost morale. The leaders hoped that the emotional power of music could further their political goals. Gone was the music of the ancien regime, and the sheltered surroundings of the salon, court, and chapels which the musicians had once enjoyed. They were now required to provide inspiration to a broad section of the populace--educated and otherwise. The result was a body of literature or Gebrauchsmusik [utility or educational music], so to speak, which was often a simplified version of customary musical forms, often lacking in inspiration. In 1795, the Constitutional Convention established seven festivals to be observed throughout France. While the bulk of the music selections were vocal--hymns, odes, and chants for solo voice as well as choirs--composers also prepared special band music such as marches, overtures, and symphonies. Despite many efforts the festivals did not take permanent root.

While most of the music of this time is not readily available for contemporary performance, a few works are available in original instrumentation or have been edited to fit the modern concert band. Due to the efforts of musicians such as Richard Franco Goldman, worthy pieces including Gossec's Military Symphony in F (1793-94) and Classic Overture in C (1794-95), Overture in F (1795) by Méhul, and the Overture in C (1795) by Catel are available for performance. Written in traditional classical style, these pieces, although quite listenable, are not innovative except in their instrumentation. For example, the Méhul Overture calls for an expanded instrumentation above the normal octet. Notice the absence of oboes and, of course, saxhorns, saxophones, and tubas, which had not yet been invented.

3 piccolos
6 oboes
6 clarinets
6 horns
6 bassoons
6 trumpets
3 double basses
6 army drums
4 field cannons
Instrumentation for
Commemoration Symphony
by Anton Reicha
Anton Reicha
Anton Reicha 3

One work of special note is the Commemoration Symphony written by Anton Reicha in c.1808, some years after the revolution. Reicha was a flutist and composer who moved from Vienna to Paris after the invasion of Napoleon. There he established a reputation as a theorist and teacher of composition, boasting among his students the likes of Berlioz, Liszt, and Gounod. The surviving autograph score for the work is entitled Music Commemorating Grand Men and Grand Events and is located in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Because of stipulations concerning the size of military bands during the Napoleonic era, Reicha circumvented the rules by writing the Commemoration Symphony for three bands playing concurrently. So he wrote the music for a total of 46 players divided into three bands. Even with the combination of three bands, the number of players is still slightly smaller than those used in ceremonial activities earlier in the revolutionary period. Reicha, somewhat a mathematician, gave explicit instructions for the placement of the drums in proximity to the band, the band in proximity to the audience, and the players in proximity to each other, no doubt establishing the best aural impact.2

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The culmination of French patriotic band music is the Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale by Hector Berlioz. Although written almost 50 years after the first revolution, it fit the intent of the earlier endeavors by Gossec et al., but on a more grandiose scale. Already an established composer, not only was Berlioz comfortable in writing for large ensembles in extended forms, but he was foremost an innovator in orchestration and instrumentation. His treatise on orchestration was a standard reference for many years.

Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz 4

The symphony was a commission from the Minister of the Interior, Charles de Rémusat, to be performed at the inauguration of the Bastille column during the celebrations of the tenth anniversary of the July Revolution of 1830. On July 28 the ceremony commenced with a commemoration service followed by a funeral march from the church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois to the Place de la Concorde, then the Place de la Bastille.

The Symphony is in three programmatic movements. The Marche Funèbre (Funeral March) is written in symphonic form. It relies on the alternation of quiet, lyrical phrases with imposing, powerful ones designed to create a noble yet emotional sentiment. The Oraison Funèbre (Funeral Oration) is a recitative and prayer featuring a solo trombone as orator. This is a rare example of a trombone solo written by one of the great masters. It was designed to augment the clergy's blessing as the bodies were lowered into their resting place at the newly erected column in the Place de la Bastille. The third movement, Apothéose, was a hymn to honor in retrospect the 1830 revolution. From its opening martial fanfare to the closing strains from the chorus (added at a later date), the movement creates an anthem designed to stir great nationalistic pride among the French, not unlike the Marseillaise.

Berlioz describes the Funeral March as follows:

The Place de la Bastille and the July Column
The Place de la Bastille and the July Column 5

I positioned the trumpets and side-drums at the front in such a way as to be able to give them the tempo, whilst I myself walked backwards. As I had envisaged when composing the music, the opening bars, being exposed, were clearly heard over a great distance by the rest of the band. The result was that not only the "Marche Funèbre" but also the "Apothéose" were played six times during the course of the procession with truly extraordinary ensemble and effect.

Berlioz headed the uniformed ranks of musicians, conducting with a baton, not with a sword as is commonly thought.

Upon arrival at the Place de la Bastille, the Oraison Funèbre accompanied the clergy's blessing. A final hearing of the Apothéose was intended to close out the ceremony, but was unfortunately drowned out by maneuvers of the National Guard, who were anxious to dismiss.

Wisely anticipating problems in the outdoor performance, Berlioz had invited an audience of friends, critics, and notables to a rehearsal in the Salle Vivienne two days before the ceremony. Frederick Chopin's extant ticket, signed by Berlioz, reads:

Sunday July 26 at 11:30 A.M.
Concert Hall rue Vivienne
Dress Rehearsal of the Military Symphony
Composed by M. Berlioz
For the Funeral Ceremony of July 28
H. Berlioz
This card will admit two.
Funeral March, Hymn of Farewell, Apotheosis.

"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

piccolo in D-flat (4) bass trombone (1)
flute in E-flat (5) (non obligé)
oboe (5) ophicléide in C I (3)
clarinet in E-flat (5) ophicléide in B-flat II (3)
clarinet in B-flat I (14) side drum I (4)
II (12) II (4)
bass clarinet in B-flat (2) timpani (1 pair)
bassoon I (4) cymbals (3 pair)
II (4) bass drum (1)
contrabassoon (1) gong (1)
(non obligé) Turkish crescent (1)
horn in F I,II (4) chorus (non obligé) (200)
horn in A-flat III,IV (4) violin (non obligé) I (20)
horn in C V,VI (4) II (20)
trumpet in F I,II (4) viola (non obligé) (15)
trumpet in C III,IV (4) cello (non obligé) (15)
cornet á pistons in A-flat I,II (4) bass (non obligé) (10)
   (alto or tenor) I (4)
   (tenor) II (3)
   (tenor) III (3)
Instrumentation for Berlioz'
Symphonie Funebre et Triomphale

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

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Felix Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn 6
oboe (2)
clarinet in F (2)
clarinet in C (2)
bassett horn (2)
bassoon (2)
horn in E (2)
horn in C (2)
trumpet in C (2)
alto trombone
tenor trombone
bass trombone
bass horn
Instrumentation for
Overture for Wind Band, op. 24
by Felix Mendelssohn

Another significant work of the early 19th century came from the pen of Felix Mendelssohn during his fifteenth year. In the summer of 1824, on holiday in northern Germany at the spa of Bad Doberan, Mendelssohn enjoyed the music of a small resident ensemble. He quickly seized the opportunity to write Notturno, which eventually became known as the Overture for Wind Band, Op. 24. The original music was written in Harmoniemusik style of 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, and 2 horns, with the addition of one flute, one trumpet, and the "English basshorn", which combines elements of the serpent and ophicleide. In 1838 he rewrote the score for large ensemble, which is the instrumentation found in his complete works, the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Werke. While not demanding the virtuosity of Mendelssohn's more famous works, it is still an engaging piece that has surfaced in a variety of editions throughout the years, migrating from the European continent to the United States in the 19th century to the Gilmore Band Library (No.145) and Carl Fischer's U.S. Military Band Journal (No. 179).10

Also found in the Werke is Mendelssohn's Trauer-Marsch for band, composed May 8, 1836 and dedicated to Norbert Burgmüller who had died the previous day. Burgmüller was a young composer of exceptional promise who died at the age of twenty-six. David Whitwell speculates that the piece was indeed begun much earlier, perhaps as the result of the death of Mendelssohn's father, and that the Burgmüller service was simply the first opportunity to perform the work.11

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Berlioz in Germany

Berlioz' trip to Germany was a rewarding opportunity for him, as he was not always treated in France with the respect that was probably due him. Perhaps his greatest enthusiasm on the tour was reserved for a semi-private performance the Crown Prince of Prussia had scheduled for him to hear and study the musical troops. Upon arrival at the matinee performance, Berlioz was astonished to see no musicians present, when presently he recognized the opening strains of his Francs-Juges Overture emanating from behind the curtain of the largest room in the palace. There, much to his pleasure, were three hundred twenty military bandsmen performing with "marvelous exactness" and "furious fire". He praised the facility of the clarinets and expressed his fascination and enthusiasm for the bass tuba, an instrument he found to be far superior to the opheclide.2

Arguably the most influential person behind the evolution of European military bands in the 19th century was Wilhelm Wieprecht. Born in 1802, Wieprecht's musical heritage included a father, grandfather, and four uncles who were all professional musicians. He began his studies on clarinet and violin. Later he studied trombone on his own, and, despite being self taught, reached a level of proficiency that rivaled the leading trombonist in Liepzig. He apprenticed to the music guild at the age of fourteen, receiving his Journeyman's Certificate from the guild in 1820. Although his father expected Wieprecht to take his place in the civic wind band of Aschersleben, in Thuringen, he instead spent nine months at the court in Dresden, followed by a two-year stint in Leipzig, before settling in Berlin as a chamber musician of the court.

Prussian Military Bands

Wilhelm Wieprecht
Wilhelm Wieprecht 7

While in Berlin, events occurred which determined the direction of his career for the remainder of his life. Upon a chance hearing, Wieprecht was enthralled with an infantry band's rendition of the overture to Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. From that moment he resolved to devote himself to military music.12 Since the age of the great repertory orchestras was just beginning, the infantry band's performance very likely rivaled that of the opera house orchestras most people were accustomed to hearing.

Berlioz spoke highly of their ability during his German tour of 1842-43. In a letter to Monsieur Desmarest, a cellist at the Paris Conservatoire, he spoke of the prolific appearances of military bands at all times of day throughout the city of Berlin. Berlioz was impressed that Wieprecht had at his disposal upwards of six hundred musicians. He explained that the musicians were:

all good readers, all well up in the mechanism of their instruments, playing in tune, and favoured by nature with indefatigable lungs and lips of leather. Hence the extreme facility with which the trumpets, horns, and cornets give those high notes unattainable by our artists. They are regiments of musicians, rather than musicians of regiments.

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Toward Consistent Instrumentation

Wieprecht lived at a most opportune time. First, money was being earmarked for the upgrade of military bands. Second, this was period of innovation for a number of instruments, from the invention of the valve for brass instruments to the refinement of mechanisms for various woodwind instruments. However, with all this unsettling change there was no unified system of instrumentation. Wieprecht was a man of vision and energy, and creating such a system became his greatest legacy.

Wieprecht initiated this new direction by composing six regimental marches for the Guard Dragoon Regiment, under a Major von Barner. This was a group absent of woodwind players, in contrast to the old Harmoniemusik system still popular in other military outlays. Because of the severe melodic limitations imposed by the group's instrumentation (natural trumpets in G, F, and C, and trombones) he persuaded the Major to buy valved instruments, which, up until this time, were not used in Berlin cavalry units. By adding seven more players to the original thirteen of the band, Wieprecht realized a group that could not be hindered melodically or harmonically.

The success of this endeavor soon brought an order from King Friedrich Wilhelm III for Wieprecht to re-instrument the Guard Regiment in Potsdam. Soon the king engaged him to instruct the trumpets of the regiment, so four days out of each month, Wieprecht went to Potsdam to work with the entire music corps of Berlin and Charlittenburg. In 1833 he replaced the high trumpets, keyed trumpets, and alto trumpets with suitable cornets, which provided a more lyrical sound with less edginess.13

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Massed Concerts and Additional Reforms

Wilhelm Friedrich III, King of Prussia
Wilhelm Friedrich III
King of Prussia 9

In 1838, upon the retirement of Abraham Schneider, Wieprecht became the overall director of the Guard music in Berlin. Presently, the King charged him with organizing a great Festmusik for the state visit of Nicholaus of Russia. This and other mass concerts would make Wieprecht a well-known person in Berlin. The concert was held in an open square before the Berliner Schloss with sixteen cavalry and sixteen infantry bands totaling more than 1000 winds and 200 percussionists performing. The program consisted of the following:

  • Overture to Rienzi by Wagner, played by the full ensemble.

  • "Chorus" and "March" from Conradin by Hillear, performed by the bands of the foot troops.

  • "Hallelujah" from Messiah by Handel, performed by the infantry bands.

  • March by Möllendorf, performed by the cavalry bands.

  • "Coronation March" from The Prophet by Meyerbeer, performed by the full ensemble.

  • The Dessauer, Hohenfriedberger, and Coburger marches, performed by the full ensemble.

In 1843 an event occurred which brought home the need for standard instrumentation in a most awkward way. Wieprecht had been given the opportunity to organize another massive concert, this time in Lüneburg. More than thirteen hundred non-Prussian musicians representing military bands quartered in Hannover, Holstein, Läuenburg, Oldenburg, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Braunschweig, Humburg, Lübeck, and Bremen gathered to rehearse and perform. Due to their instrumental diversity, he had to write out seventeen different versions of the infantry parts and nine different versions of the cavalry parts!14

TIn 1845 Wieprecht decided to tackle the problem directly by writing a series of articles to generate support for standardization of instrumentation. He called for bands of twenty-one parts, with doubling as needed for optimum balance and texture. These he grouped into three registers, further balanced into an "acoustic pyramid". Below are the instrumentations for both guard and line infantry bands.

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
bassoons 2 2
batyphons 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
triangle 1 1
cymbals 1 1
small drum 2 1
bass drum 1 1
Schellenbaum 1 1
Conductor 1 1

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 horns
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
Cavalry Artillery Jäger Infantry
cornettino 1 3 1
soprano cornet 4 6 4 2
alto cornet 2 3 2 2
tenorhorn 2 6 2 4
baritone-tuba 1 3 2 1
bass tuba 3 6 3 4
trumpet 8 12 3 4
horn 4 4
flute 2
oboe 2
clarinet in A-flat 1
clarinet in E-flat 2
clarinet in B-flat 8
bassoon 2
contrabassoon 2
trombone 4
cymbals 1
small drum 2
large drum 1
halbmondträger 1
Total: 21 39 21 4717

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.

Bands at the Paris Exposition, 1867
Bands at the Paris Exposition, 1867 10
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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.

Early Works

flute I
flute II
oboe I
oboe II
clarinet in B-flat I
clarinet in B-flat II
bassoon I
bassoon 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
alto trombone
tenor trombone
bass trombone
bass tuba
muted snare drums
Instrumentation for Trauersinfonie
by Richard Wagner

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.

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Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner 11

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.

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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
alto trombone
tenor trombone
side drum
bass drum


Instrumentation for
Funeral March
by Edvard Grieg

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:

Edvard Grieg
Edvard Grieg 12

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.

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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.

Serenade in E-flat

Richard Strauss (c. 1918?)
Richard Strauss (c. 1918?) 13

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

Suite in B-flat

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.

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Fanfare der Stadt Wien

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.

The Invalid and Cheerful Workshops

Richard Strauss (1940s?)
Richard Strauss (1940s?) 14

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

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Antonin Dvorák
Antonín Dvorák 15

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.

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Charles Gounod

Charles Gounod
Charles Gounod 16

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.

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Other Works

Louis Spohr
Louis Spohr 17

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.

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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.

12Ibid., 31-32.

13Whitwell, 33-34.

14Ibid., 37.

15Ibid., 39-40.

16Ibid., 41.

17Ibid., 43.

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.

19Goldman, 222.

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.

23Ibid., 432.

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.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Wappers_belgian_revolution.jpg.

2Excerpt from portrait of François-Joseph Gossec by Antoine Vestier. Public domain.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Gossec-portrait.jpg.

3Engraved portrait of Anton Reicha by M.F. Dien, 1815. Used by permission.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Reicha.jpg.

4Portrait of Hector Berlioz by Emile Signol, 1831-1832. Public domain.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Berliozpaint.gif.

5Photograph of the Place de la Bastille and the July Column, taken by Kaihsu Tai, 1999. Used by permission.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:PlaceBastille20040914.JPG.

6Watercolor portrait of Felix Mendolssohn Bartholdy by James Warren Childe, 1839. Public domain.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Mendelssohn_Bartholdy.jpg.

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.
Source: http://www.windband.ch/uploads/media/uso_18_01.pdf.

9Portrait of Wilhelm Friedrich III, King of Prussia, artist unknown. Public domain.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:FWIII.jpg.

10Photograph of unidentified bands at the Paris Exposition, 1867, photographer unknown. From the web site The Internet Bandsman's Everything Within. Used by permission.
Source: http://www.satiche.org.uk/vinbbp/phot2266.jpg.

11Photograph of Richard Wagner, taken by Franz Hanfstaengl, 1871. Public domain.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:RichardWagner.jpg.

12Photograph of Edvard Grieg, photographer unknown. Public domain.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Edvard_Grieg.jpg.

13Photograph of Richard Strauss, photographer unknown, prior to 1918. From Modern Music and Musicians (New York: University Society, 1918). Public domain.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Richard_Strauss.jpg.

14Photograph of Richard Strauss, photographer unknown, 1940s? Public domain.
Source: http://people.unt.edu/~dmeek/Strauss5.jpg.

15Photograph of Antonín Dvorák, photographer unknown. Public domain.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Dvorak.jpg.

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."
Source: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11419/11419-h/11419-h.htm.

17Self-portrait of Louis (Ludwig) Spohr. Public domain.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Spohr.jpg.

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