Capriccio Espagnol

From Wind Repertory Project
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (trans. Mark Hindsley)

General Info

Year: 1887 / 1976?
Duration: c. 16:10
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Violin and orchestra
Publisher: Hindsley Transcriptions
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $161.00   |   Score Only (print) - $32.00

Movements (played without pause)

1. Alborada
2. Variazoni
3. Alborado
4. Scena e Canto Gitano
5. Fandango Asturiano


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II (II doubling English horn)
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Castanets
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Although Rimsky-Korsakov revered Russian folk music, he was also interested in the music of other countries. He had been to Spain once early in his life, yet he was hypnotized by its music. Capriccio espagnol is an exuberant representation of a musical culture that he clearly adored. Written in 1887, the work was met with immediate success; upon its first reading, the orchestra burst into enthusiastic applause, and the audience at the première demanded an encore.

Rimsky-Korsakov originally conceived the work as a virtuoso showpiece for violin and orchestra based on Romani themes. A solo violin is indeed prominent at times in the final version of the work, but many other instruments are also featured throughout. Rimsky-Korsakov later wrote of the enduringly popular work, “According to my plans, the Capriccio was to glitter with dazzling orchestral color and, manifestly, I had not been wrong.” Even with the absence of the violin in the band transcription, the brilliant colors in Capriccio espagnol translate beautifully, and John Philip Sousa programmed the work many times throughout his career.

Each of its five movements are performed attacca, with no audible pause in between, such that a full performance has the effect of a through-composed work, yet each movement has a distinct and recognizable character. The first three movements are a theme-and-variations set in ABA form. Each of the outer movements of the set feature an exuberant theme played by the solo clarinet that brims over with joie de vivre, while the inner movement is slower, featuring beautifully lyrical melodies played by the upper winds with idiomatic interjections from solo horn and low winds. The fourth movement begins with a brass fanfare followed by a feature for the solo alto saxophone. This leads into an opening statement of the movement’s unforgettable theme played by solo flute and oboe, in which Rimsky-Korsakov deftly utilizes the so-called “Spanish scale.” The final movement, Fandango Asturiano (referencing the Asturian region on the northwest coast of Spain), is a festive dance in which melodic themes from the previous movement are brilliantly woven in, and eventually ends the work with a lively coda, built upon the opening alborada theme.

- Program Note from *United States Marine Band concert program, 20 February 2022

Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34, is the common Western title for a five-movement orchestral suite, based on Spanish folk melodies, composed by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1887. Rimsky-Korsakov originally intended to write the work for a solo violin with orchestra, but later decided that a purely orchestral work would do better justice to the lively melodies.

The work has five movements, divided into two parts comprising the first three and the latter two movements, respectively. The first movement, Alborada, is a festive and exciting dance, typically from traditional Asturian music to celebrate the rising of the sun. It features the clarinet with two solos, and later features a solo violin with a solo similar to the clarinet's. The second movement, Variazioni, begins with a melody in the horn section. Variations of this melody are then repeated by other instruments and sections of the orchestra.

The third movement, Alborado, presents the same Asturian dance as the first movement. The two movements are nearly identical, in fact, except that this movement has a different instrumentation and key. The fourth movement, Scena e canto gitano (Scene and Gypsy Song) opens with five cadenzas — first by the horns and trumpets, then solo violin, flute, clarinet, and harp — played over rolls on various percussion instruments. It is then followed by a dance in triple time leading attacca into the final movement.

The fifth and final movement, Fandango Asturiano, is also an energetic dance from the Asturias region of northern Spain. The piece ends with an even more rousing statement of the Alborada theme. A complete performance of the Capriccio takes around 16 minutes.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Arkansas: V
  • Florida: VI
  • Kansas: VI
  • Louisiana: V
  • Maryland: VI
  • Oklahoma: V-A
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Tennessee: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete
  • Virginia: VI


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Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Capriccio Espagnol, Wikipedia Accessed 5 March 2016
  • Rimsky-Korsakov, N.; Hindsley, M. (1976?). Capriccio Espagnol [score]. Hindsley Transcriptions: Homewood, Ill.