Children's March (arr Wagner)

From Wind Repertory Project
Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (rev. Douglas E Wagner)

Subtitle: Over the Hills and Far Away

General Info

Year: 1919 / 2000
Duration: c. 3:50
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Piano
Publisher: Alfred Publishing
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $72.00; (digital) - $72.00   |   Score Only (print) - $10.00


Full Score
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet 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 Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Castanets
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Gong
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Wood Block


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Children's March "Over the Hills and Far Away" is one of the earliest works written for piano and wind band, and the first of many such works by Percy Grainger. Written while Grainger was serving in the American army as a bandsman, it was intended to make full use of all the instrumental resources available at Fort Hamilton where he was stationed. The First World War ended in November 1918 before Grainger had the chance to perform the work as originally planned. Its first performance did not take place until June 1919 at Columbia University, featuring the Goldman Band conducted by the composer with Ralph Leopold playing the piano part. It was subsequently published in an edition which allowed it to be used by the wind section of the symphony orchestra with the piano part being cued into the wind parts. Another innovation in this score calls for certain members of the band to sing or "vocalize" in two passages where they are not employed with their own instruments.

With the dedication, "for my playmate beyond the hills," she is believed to be a Scandinavian beauty with whom the composer corresponded for eight years but did not marry because of his mother's jealousy.

- Program Note by Barry Peter Ould

Grainger orchestrated his Children’s March for wind ensemble while he was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Artillery Band. Grainger had a keen interest in folk music, possibly due to the influence of his friend Grieg, and used traditional folk tunes as the basis for many of his works. This folk tune, however, is Grainger’s original.

Two notable features of this work are its use of the piano, and two four-part vocal sections which are sung by the members of the band. Beginning softly in the bassoon in F Major, Grainger’s folk tune makes its way through the circle of fourths, gaining in excitement through B flat Major, E flat Major and A flat Major before finally returning to B flat Major and gradually disappearing “over the hills and far away.” Children’s March is dedicated to the composer’s “playmate beyond the hills.”

- Program Note by Suzanne Sherrington and Brendan Champion for the New South Wales Public Schools Symphonic Wind Ensemble

Children's March was scored for band by Grainger in 1919 from a piano solo which he had composed between 1916 and 1918. The band arrangement was begun in 1918 while the composer was a member of the U.S. Coast Artillery Band and was written to take advantage of that band's instrumentation. Generally accepted as the first band composition utilizing the piano, the march features the woodwinds -- especially the low reeds -- during most of its seven-minute duration. From the introduction to the end, the folk-like melodies make it difficult for the listener to realize that the work was original with Grainger. It was first performed by the Goldman Band on June 6, 1919, with the composer conducting and Ralph Leopold at the piano.

Like many of Grainger's works, the march demonstrates both the fierceness and the tenderness of the composer's personality. It was dedicated to "my playmate beyond the hills," believed to be Karen Holton, a Scandinavian beauty with whom the composer corresponded for eight years but did not marry because of his mother's jealousy. In 1953, 48 years after they first met, they saw each other for the last time in Denmark where Grainger had gone for a cancer operation to be performed by Dr. Fai Holton, Karen's brother.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

Children’s March: “Over the Hills and Far Away” (1919) holds a special place in the composer’s works for band. Children’s March was not his first original work for wind band, for that honor goes to Lads of Wamphray March. Nor is it the first published work for wind band for Irish Tune from County Derry and Shepherd's Hey appeared in 1918.

Children’s March is the first composition of his maturity originally composed and scored for wind band and, indeed, one of his few compositions that does not exist in any full-length version suitable for performances by symphony orchestra. In contrast to many of Grainger’s other compositions, the march was provided with no program notes. The score bears the dedication “For my playmate beyond the hills,” which is understood by many Grainger scholars to reference Karen Holton, who shared a lengthy relationship with him during the first decade of the twentieth century. With instrumental demands unlike any band work before its time and few since, and with matching technical challenges made to the entire performing ensemble, Percy Grainger’s Children’s March remains one of the most original and satisfying parts of the wind band essential repertoire.

- Program Note from University of North Texas Wind Ensemble concert program, 27 September 2016

This [Wagner arrangement] is an abridged concert band arrangement prepared from Grainger's original edition, preserving the integrity of the work while maximizing its practicality. The many note, articulation and dynamic incongruities have been sorted out and the score has been reinforced, making the work highly playable and accessible.

- Program Note from publisher


State Ratings

  • North Carolina: IV
  • South Carolina: III
  • Tennessee: IV


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