Concerto Grosso for Saxophone Quartet

From Wind Repertory Project
William Bolcom

William Bolcom

General Info

Year: 2000 / 2009
Duration: c. 20:55
Difficulty: V-VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra and Saxophone Quartet
Publisher: Theodore Presser
Cost: Parts Only - Rental   |   Score and Saxophone Quartet Parts - $165.00


1. Lively – 5:10
2. Song without Words – 6:10
3. Valse – 3:10
4. Badinerie – 5:25


Full Score
Solo B-flat Soprano Saxophone
Solo E-flat Alto Saxophone
Solo B-flat Tenor Saxophone
Solo E-flat Baritone Saxophone
C Piccolo I-II
English Horn
Bassoons I-II-III
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV-V-VI-VII-VIII
B-flat Bass Clarinet
C Trumpet I-II-III-IV-V-VI
Horn in F I-II-III-IV-V-VI
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Euphonium I-II
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV (minimum of 4 players), including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • China Cymbal
  • Crotales
  • Drumset
  • Glockenspiel
  • Slapstick
  • Suspended Cymbals (3)
  • Tam-tam (large)
  • Tambourine
  • Tom-toms (4)
  • Triangles (2)
  • Wind Chimes (glass)
  • Wood Block


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Concerto Grosso originally composed for saxophone quartet and orchestra, was written for the PRISM Saxophone Quartet in 2000 and was premiered as a band transcription in 2009. It was premiered in 2011 by the University of Michigan Symphony Band, Michael Haithcock conducting. The work is written in a Baroque—era form involving a small group of instrumentalists in dialogue with the large orchestra, While the “Concerto Grosso” features multiple soloists and boasts such varied influences as rhythm-and-blues, bebop, and the Schumann Konzertstuck, the overall emphasis of the work is highlighting the strength and uniqueness of a group. On receiving the commission, Bolcom remarked, “Although each PRISM member is an excellent soloist, I took their request to mean that I should emphasize their group identity, their ‘fourness'.”

The homophonic nature of this piece is a reflection of unity and harmony, while also exploring the individual excellence of the members.

- Program note by David Balandrin and Ricky Parrell

Concerto Grosso, written for the PRISM Saxophone Quartet (which has included at different times a few of my former students in composition), was written purely as a piece to be enjoyed by performers and listeners. PRISM had mentioned wanting a concerto grosso for themselves. (To remind readers, a concerto grosso is a Baroque-era form involving a small group of instrumentalists, called the concertina, in dialog with the ripieno or large orchestra.

Although each PRISM member is an excellent soloist, I took their request to mean that I should emphasize their group identity, their "fourness." This immediately called up two precedents in my mind: the Schumann concerto for horn quartet which is very homophonic, and the many 20th-century groups of all sorts which often dressed alike to emphasize their uniqueness, from the Four Lads and the Beatles to the Motown groups and countless others.

The first movement, Lively, in simple sonata form, evokes blues harmonies in both its themes. Song without Words, which follows, is a lyrical larghetto. The following Valse, which has a very French cast, begins with a long solo stretch for the saxophone quartet; the development of this theme alternates with a pianissimo Scherzetto section. The final Badinerie, a title borrowed from Bach, evokes bebop and rhythm-and-blues.

The orchestral version of this work was commissioned by New Sounds Music, Inc. for the PRISM Quartet, with support from a variety of funding agencies, and premiered in 2000. I did the band transcription in 2009, stemming from a request by Professor Michael Haithcock to enable the work to be performed on the Symphony Band’s upcoming tour of China. As a result, the version for band was commissioned by a consortium of bands organized by the University of Michigan, in partnership with Baylor University, Eric Wilson, conductor; Indiana University, Stephen Pratt, conductor; the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Kevin Geraldi and John Locke, conductors; and the University of Texas at Austin, Jerry Junkin, conductor.

- Program Note by composer



State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Bolcom, W. (2014/2020). Concerto Grosso: For Saxophone Quartet and Band [score]. E.B. Marks: [New York].

Category; 2000