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ClassicsOnline Home » Wind Band Music - REED, H.O. / HUSA, K. / NELHYBEL, V. / SCHUMAN, W. (Fanfares and Overtures for Wind Band) (Rutgers Wind Ensemble, Berz)
‘Fanfares and Overtures’ aptly conveys the spirit of this wide-ranging album, which marks the début on Naxos’s popular Wind Band Classics range of the Rutgers
Wind Ensemble. Hailed by one critic as ‘the Rolls Royce of wind ensembles’, it here presents music whose haunting moods, contrasting compositional styles and sophisticated
characters call forth both the ‘sweet, sighing sonorities’ and ‘impressive unanimity and sheer technique’ for which the Ensemble is renowned. Previous recordings have
gained the Ensemble an impressive 33 Grammy® entry listings.
By Benn Martin
By Carla Rees
Fanfares and Overtures
Born in 1910 in Odessa, Missouri, Herbert Owen Reed studied at Louisiana State University and the Eastman School of Music. His composition for orchestra titled Overture received its première by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Howard Hanson in 1941 and has enjoyed a number of performances since. Its primary musical characteristic
is a constant rhythmic interplay between the two meters of 6/8 and 3/4. Each has six eighth notes per measure, although they are grouped in differing fashions. At many times in the work, part of the ensemble is playing in 6/8 time while others are in 3/4. The form of this work consists primarily of the exposition and development of two basic themes. The first theme enters in short broken phrases over a persistent timpani, marimba, and double bass rhythmic pattern. After a slight extension of this theme, the second theme, something in the nature of a chorale, appears in the woodwinds. The contrapuntal and rhythmic development of these two themes comprises the remainder of the overture. In the summer of 2005, H. Owen Reed asked William Berz to make an arrangement of his Overture for wind ensemble. This arrangement was titled by Reed and Berz: Overture-1940, the original title for the work.
Karel Husa was born in Prague on 7 August 1921. He learned to play the violin and the piano in early childhood and, after passing his final examination at high school, enrolled in the Prague Conservatory in 1939. After World War II, his links with his native country deteriorated. Following the coup d’état in Czechoslovakia in 1948, he did not return home from Paris where he had been studying, and in 1954 joined the faculty at Cornell University to conduct the orchestra and teach composition and theory. In 1969 he received the Pulitzer Prize for his Third String Quartet. Smetana Fanfare was commissioned by San Diego State University for the 1984 Festival of Music honoring the Czech composer Bed ich Smetana. This short work uses two excerpts from Smetana’s symphonic poem Wallenstein’s Camp, composed in 1859 in Goteberg, Sweden, during his exile from Prague. The most obvious reference is heard at the very beginning of the Fanfare and is virtually a direct quotation. Each statement moves away from the original. The second quotation occurs in the 46th measure and is heard in the low brass. That theme too becomes developed with each statement and is eventually taken over by an ostinato pattern heard in the woodwinds.
Václav Nelhýbel was born in Czechoslovakia and studied at the Prague Conservatory. He moved to the United States in 1957 and became a citizen in 1962. Fanfares is a greatly abridged adaptation for band of the Overture from the opera Libuše by Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884). Along with Antonín Dvořák, Smetana is considered to be one of the leading figures of Czech music. Like many composers of Czech heritage, Václav Nelhýbel considered Smetana to be a great musical
Reed’s Fanfare for Remembrance was commissioned by the International Trumpet Guild with funds from Western Michigan University. It was first performed by the Western Michigan University Trumpet Ensemble, Stephen Jones, Director, as the opening fanfare to the ITG Conference held on their campus in June 1987. The poem For Remembrance from Brief April by Edythe Hope Genée (1904?–1976) serves as both inspiration and text. The work begins with alternating punctuations between the timpani and
the trumpet choir with loosely timed spaces between. This evolves into a metered ostinato pattern. In the middle, the Battle Hymn of the Republic is played with unusual accompaniment patterns. Near the end of the work the narrator reads the poem while the ensemble repeats a four-measure passage resulting in a minimalistic effect. Following the narration, the ensemble returns with the ostinato pattern heard earlier in the piece. Gradually, the trumpeters join the narrator in whispering the last line of the poem: “For who can touch a dream as frail as mist?”
Husa’s Music for Prague 1968 was commissioned by the Ithaca College Concert Band and was composed during the summer and fall of 1968. It received its première on 31 January 1969, with the Ithaca Band conducted by Kenneth Snapp at a concert for the MENC National Convention. Husa has provided the following note in the score:
Three main ideas bind the composition together. The first and most important is an old Hussite war song from the fifteenth century, Ye Warriors of God and His Law, a symbol of resistance and hope for hundreds of years, whenever fate lay heavy on the Czech nation. It has been utilized also by many Czech composers, including Smetana in My Country. The beginning of this religious song is announced very softly in the first movement by the timpani and concludes in a strong unison (Chorale). The song is never used in its entirety.
The second idea is the sound of bells throughout; Prague, named also the City of Hundreds of Towers, has used its magnificently sounding church bells as calls of distress as well as of victory.
The last idea is a motif of three chords first appearing very softly under the piccolo solo at the beginning of the piece, in flutes, clarinets and horns. Later it reappears at extremely strong dynamic levels, for example, in the middle of the Aria.
Different techniques of composing as well as orchestrating have been used in Music for Prague 1968 and some new sounds explored, such as the percussion section in the Interlude, the ending of the work, and so on. Much symbolism also appears: in addition to the distress calls in the first movement (Introduction and Fanfare), the unbroken hope of the Hussite song, sound of bells, or the tragedy (Aria), there is also the bird call at the beginning (piccolo solo), symbol of the liberty which the City of Prague has seen only for moments during its thousand years of existence.
Renascence was commissioned by Mark Hindsley and the University of Illinois Band for the dedication of their famous band building. It was given its première by the Illinois Band with Reed conducting on 7 March 1958 as part of the ABA convention held on the Illinois campus. It is inspired by a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay of the same title. Millay’s Renascence was an early work in the transcendentalist tradition from her first collection of poems published in 1917. The number five holds an important structural importance. Almost
every aspect of the piece, except form, is linked to five, most notably the intervallic content of the initial main motive, a perfect fifth, and in the time signature of 5/4.
A composition of the early 1950s, William Schuman’s George Washington Bridge was commissioned by the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, and is subtitled An Impression for Band. Appropriately, the work is an arch form: A-B-C-B-A. Schuman has written the following remarks in the score:
There are few days in the year when I do not see the George Washington Bridge. I pass it on my way to work as I drive along the Henry Hudson Parkway on the New York shore. Ever
since my student days when I watched the progress of its construction, this bridge has had for me an almost human personality, and this personality is astonishingly varied, assuming
different moods depending on the time of day or night, the weather, the traffic and, of course, my own mood as I pass by. It is difficult to imagine a more gracious welcome or dramatic entry to the great metropolis.
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