Please DONATE to help with maintenance and upkeep of the Wind Repertory Project!

Corsican Litany

From Wind Repertory Project
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Vaclav Nelhybel

Vaclav Nelhybel

General Info

Year: 1976
Duration: c. 7:35
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Bourne Co. Music Publishers
Cost: Score and Parts - $54.50   |   Score Only: $13.00

For further availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Full Score
Flute I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
B-flat Cornets I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbals
  • Chimes
  • Gong
  • Snare Drum
  • Tenor Drum
  • Tom-Toms


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In many parts of the world it was once common practice during burial ceremonies to have professional mourners dramatize the grief of the bereaved by means of loud and emotional lamentations, repeated endlessly like a chant. In some places, notably the Mediterranean countries, these laments were actually sung, usually by women who were skilled in this macabre art and could command pay for their services.

Corsican laments, like Corsican deaths, were divided into two types: the ordinary lamento for death from natural causes, and the vocero if the mourned had been murdered. The latter then became a song of grief so intense, so filled with pain, that it could only be assuaged by an act of direst vengeance. The murderer was accused and identified by name, and the singer solemnly swore to see to it that he who had murdered would pay for it with his life.

Corsican Litany is based on a vocero first known to have been sung in 1775 at the funeral of a country doctor named Matju who had been murdered by his own patient, one Natale. The melody is introduced mournfully, but grows steadily in passionate intensity until an astonishing climax is reached in the final menacing oath of vengeance.

- Program Notes from score

In 1962, Vaclav Nelhybel received his first exposure to a concert band. He wrote: “The first band I heard played a piece by Persichetti, and it was so good I just caught fire. I was fascinated with the possibilities of what you can do with half an acre of clarinets, half an acre of flutes, and half an acre of percussion. So I said, why not try it? I did, and it seemed to open new creative channels in my mind.” It was the enthusiasm of the students that truly inspired him to compose. His music is complex and exciting; it employs linear counterpoint, freely dissonant harmonic textures, and forceful rhythms.

Music has often been used to express emotion. A strong sense of sorrow and vengeance is evident in Nelhýbel’s Corsican Litany, composed in 1976.

- Program Note by David Holsinger


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) University Band (Lucas Petersen, conductor) – 21 March 2023
  • University of Tennessee (Knoxville) Concert Band (Fuller Lyon, conductor) - 21 April 2022
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Symphonic Band (Michael Robinson, conductor) - 2 March 2022
  • Patrick Henry High School (Roanoke, Va.) Wind Symphony (Alexander Schmitt, conductor) - 14 December 2021
  • Penn State University (University Park) Concert Band (Gregory Drane, conductor) – 26 February 2020
  • Lee University (Cleveland, Tenn.) Wind Ensemble (David Holsinger, conductor) – 25 February 2020
  • Saddleback College (Mission Viejo, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Georgios Kouritas, conductor) – 3 May 2019
  • University of Chicago (Ill.) Wind Ensemble (Chip De Stefano, conductor) – 18 November 2018
  • Southeast Missouri State University (Cape Girardeau) Wind Symphony (Martin Reynolds, conductor) – 19 October 2018
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, University Band (Pamela L. Klena, conductor) – 2 October 2018
  • Indiana State University Wind Symphony (Nikk Pilato, conductor) - 5 April 2018
  • East Tennessee State University (Johnson City) Concert Band (Christian Zembower, conductor) – 27 February 2018
  • Penn State University (University Park) Concert Band (Corey Pompey, conductor) – 26 April 2017
  • Lee University (Cleveland, Tenn.) Wind Ensemble (David Holsinger, conductor) – 10 April 2017

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Nelhybel, V. (1976). Corsican Litany [score]. Bourne Co.:[s.l.].