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Academic Festival Overture

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Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (arr. V.F. Safranek)

This work bears the designation Opus 80.

General Info

Year: 1880 / 1910 / 1969
Duration: c. 10:30
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Cost: Score and Parts - Out of Print

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


D-flat Piccolo
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
E-flat Alto Clarinet I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone I-II
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Flugelhorn I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn or Alto in E-flat I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Euphonium I-II
Percussion (3 players), including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Triangle


  • Flute I, reh. F, beat 2: F sharp and E quarter notes should read eighth notes
  • Oboe II, reh. B +7, beat 1: G-flat should read G natural
  • Bassoon I, reh. O +26 (13 meas. before Maestoso), beat 1: empty stem should read F below bass clef
  • Cornet III (2nd Cornet in Gilmore edition), reh. A +8: delete rehearsal "B"
  • Cornet III (2nd Cornet in Gilmore edition), reh. A +21: add rehearsal "B" (at the 4 measure rest)
  • Baritone I T.C., reh. P -12 (at the 3/4 meter change): add "Maestoso"
  • Basses, reh. H -20, beat 1&: fix broken note (A)

Program Notes

The University of Breslau awarded Brahms an honorary degree in 1880 and he reciprocated by writing an overture. Brahms conducted the piece at the University on January 4, 1881. The overture includes student drinking songs and retains the gay atmosphere of college life. Heard are: Wir hatten gebauet em stattliches Haus (We have built a stately house), played by the brass choir; Der Landesvater (The Land Father), given out by the violins in the orchestral version; Was kommt dort von der Hoh (What comes from afar) by the woodwinds and strings, and, finally the magnificent Gaudeamus igitur (Wherefore let us rejoice), by the whole ensemble.

- Program note by University of Houston Moores School of Music Wind Ensemble

Academic Festival Overture (Akademische Festouvertüre), Op. 80, by Johannes Brahms, was one of a pair of contrasting concert overtures -- the other being the Tragic Overture, Op. 81. Brahms composed the work during the summer of 1880 as a tribute to the University of Breslau, which had notified him that it would award him an honorary doctorate in philosophy.

Initially, Brahms had contented himself with sending a simple handwritten note of acknowledgment to the university, since he loathed the public fanfare of celebrity. However, the conductor Bernard Scholz, who had nominated him for the degree, convinced him that protocol required him to make a grander gesture of gratitude. The university expected nothing less than a musical offering from the composer. "Compose a fine symphony for us!" he wrote to Brahms. "But well orchestrated, old boy, not too uniformly thick!" Brahms, who was known to be an ironic joker, filled his quota by creating a "very boisterous potpourri of student drinking songs à la Suppé" in an intricately designed structure made to appear loose and episodic, thus drawing on the "academic" for both his sources and their treatment.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


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State Ratings

Maryland: VI


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Works for Winds by This Composer

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  • Academic Festival Overture, Wikipedia Accessed 17 May 2020
  • Brahms, J.; Safranek, V. (1943). Academic Festival Overture [score]. C. Fischer: New York.
  • Girsberger, Russ. Percussion Assignments for Band & Wind Ensemble. Volume I: A-K. Galesburg, MD: Meredith Music Publications, 2004, 48. Print.