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Fantasie Humoresque on Yankee Doodle

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David Wallis Reeves

David Wallis Reeves (arr. Brion)

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Title varies. This work is also known as Yankee Doodle: Fantasie Humoresque, Yankee Doodle: Fantasy Humoresque, and Fantasia on Yankee Doodle.

General Info

Year: 1878 / 1977
Duration: c. 6:30
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: EMS Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $100.00   |   Score Only - $10.00


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

Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Triangle


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Yankee Doodle came to town riding on a pony,
He stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni.

The words of Yankee Doodle, as known in the United States, were written by an English Army surgeon, Dr. Richard Schuckburgh. The song made fun of the untrained American troops during the French and Indian War in 1755. The soldiers liked the song instead, and it became well known by the time of the Revolutionary War. It was often sung by the colonists in battle, and it was played as the British left after the surrender of Yorktown. The early settlers of New York were Dutch, and the name for Johnny was Janke, pronounced Yankee. Doodle meant “a simple, foolish person.” The word "macaroni" was a reference, in those days, to the young men of London who dressed in odd Italian styles.

Written in 1878, this composition was intended as a showpiece for the performers of Reeves’ American Band of Providence, Rhode Island. The industrial revolution of the late 19th century brought significant advances in the construction of wind instruments and an accompanying increase in playing technique. The many sections of the ensemble perform variations on the simple melody to demonstrate these performance skills.

- Program Notes from

Reeves’ American Band was comprised of some of the best instrumentalists. He featured them at every opportunity, and wrote several works that allowed him to present several soloists in the same work. By using the variation technique, he was able to keep the audience’s attention while demonstrating the virtuosity of his bandsmen. Such a composition is the Fantasia on Yankee Doodle.

- Program Note from Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music

The theme and variation form has been most commonly used as a showpiece for soloists, with each successive variation demonstrating a different aspect of the soloist’s technical prowess or expressiveness. This style of presentation reached its peak in America during the “golden age” of the concert band, a period lasting from the 1880s until the 1930s. One of the earliest pioneers of the American concert band was David Wallace Reeves, leader of the American Band of Providence, Rhode Island.

His Fantasie Humoresque on Yankee Doodle, introduced in 1878 and published in1885, was composed not to feature a single soloist, but to demonstrate the skills of several sections of his band. In addition to showcasing the unique talents of the American bands of the time, these variations also highlighted the significant technical advances made in the production of woodwind and brass instruments as a result of the Industrial Revolution. These developments meant that band musicians could now play with a similar level of virtuosity as orchestral string players, and Reeves was eager to demonstrate that capability through the colorful embellishment of one of the country’s oldest and most beloved patriotic songs.

- Program Note from United States Marine Band concert program, 6 February 2022


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Jason K. Fettig, conductor) - 6 February 2022
  • Lone Star Wind Orchestra (Dallas, Tx.) (Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor) – 10 November 2019
  • New Sousa Band (Keith Brion, conductor) - 21 December 2018 (2018 Midwest Clinic)
  • DePauw University (Greencastle, Ind.) Band (Craig Paré, conductor) – 1 October 2017
  • Foothill Symphonic Winds (Los Altos, Calif.) (David Bruce Adams, conductor) - 7 June 2015

Works for Winds by This Composer