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Blue Bells of Scotland

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Arthur Pryor

Arthur Pryor (arr. E. M. Pearson)

Subtitle: Air and Variations : Trombone (Baritone) or Trumpet (Cornet) Solo with Band Accompaniment

General Info

Year: 1801 / c. 1899 / 1932 / 1971
Duration: c. 6:50
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Cost: Score and Parts - $90.00   |   Score Only - $15.00


Full Score
D-flat Piccolo
C Piccolo/Flute III
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet Solo-I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in E-flat I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This folk song has been arranged in a theme and variations format for a variety of solo instruments.

- Program Note from publisher

The Bluebells of Scotland is the usual modern name for a Scottish folk song (Roud # 13849). It was written by Dora Jordan, an English actress and writer, first published in 1801. Joseph Haydn wrote a piano trio accompaniment for this song (Hob. XXXIa: 176). The song was arranged by Arthur Pryor for trombone with accompaniment. This version is usually called Blue Bells of Scotland. It is most commonly played with a piano or concert/military band, but has also been performed with orchestra or brass band. Although the exact date is disputed due to some naming questions, Pryor probably composed the piece around 1899.

This version is technically challenging and allows the soloist to show off a flowing legato while, in different places, requiring some difficult jumps. The sheer speed and volume of notes also poses a significant challenge. It is in theme and variation form, and opens with a cadenza-like introduction. After the theme, it moves to the allegro section, in which the variations begin. Variation one involves triplets, while variation two involves syncopated sixteenth-eighth note rhythms. The cadenza that follows demonstrates the performer's range, jumping about three and a half octaves from high C (an octave above middle C) to pedal A flat and G, for example. The vivace finale brings all these techniques into one, requiring the trombonist to exhibit advanced range, legato, double tonguing and flexibility. Thus, the piece is limited to the best trombonists, although there have been numerous recordings by such famed players as Joseph Alessi, Christian Lindberg and Ian Bousfield. It is often considered to be the trombone (and euphonium) equivalent (in terms of required mastery of the instrument) to the Carnival of Venice for trumpet or cornet, by Jean-Baptiste Arban.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Pryor was widely regarded as one of the greatest trombone virtuosos, due to his impeccable technique and exquisite sound. He composed some 300 works, including enduring solos such as the Blue Bells of Scotland. Intended to showcase his impressive talents on a technically-limited instrument, many of Pryor’s solo compositions were written during a time when there were very few substantial solo pieces for the trombone.

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band concert program, 2 February 2020


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer