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Black Sounds

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George Rochberg

George Rochberg

Subtitle: For Small Wind Orchestra

General Info

Duration: c. 14:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Theodore Presser
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - Rental   |   Score Only (print) - $54.95


Full Score
Flute I-II (doubling Piccolo)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II (I doubling E-flat Clarinet; II doubling B-flat Bass Clarinet)
C Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion (4 players), including:

  • Anvil (or Iron Pipe)
  • Bass Drum (large and small)
  • Chimes (or Tubular Bells)
  • Claves
  • Cowbells (3: small, medium and large)
  • Field Drum
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong (4: small, medium and large)
  • Guiro
  • Ratchet (large)
  • Slapstick
  • Sleigh Bells
  • Snare Drum (small)
  • Steel Plate
  • Suspended Cymbals (2: small and large)
  • Tambourine
  • Temple Blocks
  • Tenor Drum
  • Triangle (small and large)
  • Vibraphone
  • Wind Chimes (bamboo)
  • Wood Block


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In 1964, I wrote a large wind ensemble work entitled Apocalyptica. From this work I drew the material for a 17-player wind piece called Black Sounds. This new work was done in 1965 on commission from Lincoln Center for a dance called The Act, choreographed by Anna Sokolow for inclusion in a special TV composite project Lincoln Center, developed in cooperation with WNET, New York; later that show was awarded the Prix d’Italia.

Since the dance concerned itself with the “act of murder,” the music, to be appropriately “black”, had to be unrelenting in its intensity, dark in its gesture. The result was a totally chromaticized texture, though not necessarily atonal. In a through-composed, single movement, Black Sounds is stylistically consistent from beginning to end. At the time I wrote it, I also thought of it as an “homage” to Varese, whom I admired greatly for his directness and power of dramatic expression. The intensity of juxtaposition of the works presented here is probably the best way to understand my personal "credo" as a composer. Perhaps the very friction of their side-by-side relationship will heighten the particular qualities and characteristics of each, and throw them into sharper and more pointed relief. Whatever the effect of the "accidental" juxtaposition, each work ultimately exists for itself alone.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Peabody Wind Ensemble (Baltimore, Md.) (Harlan Parker, conductor) - 11 November 2021

Works for Winds by This Composer