Country Band March

From Wind Repertory Project
Charles Ives

Charles Ives (trans. James B. Sinclair)

N.B. Although sources differ, the correct punctuation of the title appears to be "Country Band" March.

General Info

Year: 1903 / 1974
Original Medium: Theater Orchestra
Duration: c. 4:15
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Cost: Score and Parts - $150.00   |   Score - $15.00


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra-Alto 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
Trombones I-II-III
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Triangle
  • Xylophone


  • B-flat Trumpet II, m.18: An impossible mute change. The player may reasonably omit the prior 2-3 measures in order to take the mute, because the notes are covered in tenor sax and 3rd cornet, respectively.

Program Notes

Country Band March was composed around 1903, four years after Ives' graduation from Yale and five years prior to his lucrative insurance partnership with Julian Myrick. Ives had just resigned as organist at Central Presbyterian Church, New York, thus ending thirteen and one-half years as organist of various churches. He was, according to Henry Cowell, "exasperated ... by the routine harmony for hymns." During this period Ives finished his Second Symphony (1902), composed three organ pieces that were later incorporated into his Third Symphony (1904), composed the Overture and March "1776" and various songs and chamber pieces. Apparently, the Country Band March received no performances, and only a pencil score-sketch is in evidence today. Later, Ives seemed very interested in this music, since he incorporated nearly all of it, in one form or another, into the "Hawthorne" movement of Sonata No. 2 (Concord)," The Celestial Railroad,’’ the Fourth Symphony (second movement) and especially "Putnam's Camp" from Three Places in New England.

From the "out of tune" introduction to the pandemonium which reigns at the close, the Country Band March is a marvelous parody of the realities of performance by a country band. While the main march theme is probably Ives' own, the march features an impressive list of quotations that includes Arkansas Traveler, Battle Cry of Freedom, British Grenadiers, The Girl I Left Behind Me, London Bridge, Marching Through Georgia, "Massa's in de Cold, Cold Ground, My Old Kentucky Home, Violets, Yankee Doodle, May Day Waltz and Semper Fidelis. There is rarely anything straightforward about the use of this material; the tunes are subjected to Ives's famous techniques of "poly-everything." Of particular interest is Ives's use of "ragtime" elements to enliven this already spirited march.

- Program Note from score

The Country Band March was composed in 1903 and arranged for full band in 1973 by James Sinclair of Yale University. The piece displays some of Ives’ most distinguishing characteristics, particularly the use of quotations of tunes that were popular in his childhood. Unlike other composers who make use of similar material, Ives sought deliberately to capture the inaccuracies of rhythm and intonation that he usually heard in amateur performances. The results can be wildly humorous and raucous, and affectionately nostalgic, often at the same time.Country Band March later became part of larger works by Ives: the Symphony No. 4 and the "Putnam’s Camp" movement of Three Places in New England.

- Program Note by Richard Franko Goldman

This free-for-all collage of children's tunes, country fiddling, patriotic songs, and two Sousa march allusions (Semper Fidelis and Washington Post, The) was composed first for theater orchestra and later expanded, along with Overture and March "1776" to form Putnam's Camp, the central movement of Ives's orchestral set Three Places in New England. Composed no earlier than 1905, Country Band March recalls the blatant band shenanigans embodied in its sister piece Overture and March "1776" and at the same time points ahead to the frenetic ragtime episodes in Charlie Rutlage and Runaway Horse on Main Street. Clearly defined throughout Sinclair's virtuosic transcription is Ives' use of ragtime to poke infinite fun at the band's late entrances, bad cut-offs, delayed patter, and general miscounting -- often accentuating the major-minor (and other) clashes unleashed by unheeded key signatures. If one had to classify Country Band March in traditional terms, it would be what John Philip Sousa and his contemporaries often dubbed a "humoresque" or "musical joke" -- a grandchild really of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's sextet subtitled The Village Musicians, K522.

- Program note by Jonathan Elkus



State Ratings

  • New York: Grade VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

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Works for Winds by This Composer