Down to the Sea in Ships

From Wind Repertory Project
Robert Russell Bennett

Robert Russell Bennett (ed. Kyle Glaser)

Subtitle: From the NBC TV Film Project 20

General Info

Year: 1954 / 2013 / 2015
Duration: c. 13:25
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Alfred Music Publishing
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $150.00   |   Score Only (print) - $15.00


1. The Way of the Ship – 3:45
2. Mists and Mystery – 2:30
3. Songs in the Salty Air – 2:20
5. Waltz of the Clipper Ships – 1:50
6. Finale, Introducing the S.S. Eagle March – 2:50


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II (II doubling English Horn)
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
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Boat Whistle
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Finger Cymbals
  • Fog Horn
  • Glockenspiel
  • Low Bell
  • Marimba
  • Military Drum
  • Oriental Drum
  • Ship's Bell
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-tam
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Blocks (3)
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

After Robert Russell Bennett’s successful collaboration with Richard Rodgers in producing the award winning tele-documentary Victory at Sea in 1952, Bennett assumed the musical leadership for NBC’s next documentary series, Project 20, which ran from 1954 to the early 1970s. Down to the Sea in Ships aired December 11, 1968, and told of man’s fascination with the magic of the sea.

This modern edition is a remarkable setting of this exciting music. The five movements present familiar sea shanties, folk songs, a waltz and a march finale. Movement 1, The Way of a Ship includes the rhythmically augmented melody of Franz Schubert’s Am Meer (On the Sea) and the familiar sea shanty Blow the Man Down. Movement 2, Mists and Mystery, is set as a slow barcarolle, evoking the songs of a Venetian gondolier. Movement 3, Songs in the Salty Air, contains more familiar sea shanties and folk songs like Shenandoah and What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor? Movement 4 is Waltz of the Clipper Ships, and the Finale is a standard march, Introducing the S.S. Eagle, that interestingly uses Schubert’s Am Meer as its melody.

- Program Note from The Instrumentalist


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Texas State University (San Marcos) Wind Symphony (Caroline Beatty, conductor) - 29 April 2023
  • Brock University (St. Catherines, Ont. Can.) Wind Ensemble (Zoltan Kalman, conductor) - 7 December 2021
  • Woodcreek High School (Roseville, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Brad North, conductor) – 8 May 2019
  • Idaho State University (Pocatello) Civic Concert Band (Erin Armstrong, conductor) – 19 April 2019
  • New Orleans (La.) Concert Band (Charles Taylor, conductor) – 15 October 2017

Works for Winds by This Composer