Copland Portrait, A (Conte)

From Wind Repertory Project
David Conte

David Conte (trans. Ryan Nowlin)

General Info

Year: 1999 / 2015
Duration: c. 8:25
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: E.C. Schirmer Music Co.
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $90.00   |   Score Only (print) - $30.00

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
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-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal, medium and large
  • Tam-Tam, small
  • Triangle
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

When Maestro Neal Gittleman, a dear friend and fellow student of Nadia Boulanger, invited me to compose an overture in honor of the centennial of Aaron Copland's birth, I immediately thought back to a remark Mademoiselle Boulanger once made about Pulcinella, Stravinsky's homage to the baroque composer Pergolesi: "When one listens to this work, one notices not so much the object as the hand holding it." I relished the challenge of asserting my own personality in a portrait of Copland, while relying upon my deep love and knowledge of Copland's work to guide me. I set out quite consciously to evoke various aspects of Copland's work by combining and recombining them within the terms of my own musical personality. For example, the first theme of A Copland Portrait combines the character of a theme from The Red Pony with the rhythmic texture of the scherzo of the Third Symphony. While composing the piece I was conscious of drawing inspiration from many of Copland's works; a melodic shape here, a harmonic gesture there, until I arrived at something that felt fresh and new to me.

A Copland Portrait is cast in a traditional Sonata-Allegro form. After a vigorous, syncopated orchestral tutti, the first theme is announced in the solo oboe, accompanied by a steady eighth-note ostinato. Playful interjections are stated in the flute and bassoon. The syncopated tutti returns; the first theme is stated again, this time in the low winds. This theme builds to a colorful climax, leading into a more dissonant transition section, which gradually slows and gives way to a lilting, more lyrical second theme in the clarinet. After some modest development of the second theme, a more plaintive theme stated in the muted trumpet brings the exposition to a close. A scherzando development section follows; the first four notes of the first theme are inverted and subjected to various contrapuntal treatments. This development section ends with a return of the opening syncopated motive, leading into a recapitulation of the first theme, this time in canon, and the second theme and closing theme, broadly sung. A brilliant toccata-style coda brings A Copland Portrait to a brisk conclusion.

A Copland Portrait was commissioned by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Neal Gittman, Music Director, and was premiered by them on January 12th and 13th, 2000. The composer thanks Manly Romero for his expert editing of the orchestral score, and Conrad Susa for supplying the title.

The present version for band was transcribed by Ryan Nowlin, and premiered on March 22nd, 2015, by "The President's Own" United States Marine Band, Lieutenant Colonel Jason Fettig, conductor. I am grateful to my friend the composer and publisher Jonathan Elkus for suggesting the idea of a transcription and for connecting me with the Marine Band.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Symphony (Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor) – 14 February 2017
  • Lone Star Wind Orchestra (Dallas, Tex.) (Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor) – 18 September 2016
  • U.S. Marine Band (Jason K. Fettig, conductor) – 22 March 2015 – *Premiere Performance of Wind Arrangement*'

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Burch-Pesses, Michael. "A Copland Portrait." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 11, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 673-678. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2018.
  • David Conte website. Accessed 1 September 2016