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From a Dark Millennium

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Joseph Schwantner

Joseph Schwantner


General Info

Year: 1981
Duration: c. 12:30
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Chamber Ensemble
Publisher: Schott Helicon Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $110   |   Score Only - $35.00

Instrumentation

Full Score (score is in "Open" or "French" format)
Flutes I-II-III (Flute 2-3 double on Piccolo)
Oboes I-II
English Horn
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III (1st doubling on E-flat, 2-3rd doubling on Bass)
Bassoons I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trumpet (in Bb) I-II-III
Trombones I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Tuba
String Bass (2)
Piano (amplified)
Celesta (amplified)
Timpani
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum (Large)
  • Bass Drum (Medium Large)
  • Crotales
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Remo Rototoms (6 drums)
  • Suspended Cymbal (Large)
  • Suspended Cymbal (Medium -2)
  • Suspended Cymbal (Small)
  • Suspended Triangle (Large)
  • Tam-tam (Large)
  • Tam-tam (Medium Large)
  • Timbales (4)
  • Timpani
  • Tom-Toms (1 set of 3)
  • Tubular Bells
  • Vibraphone (2)
  • Xylophone

Bandsmen singing and whistling


Errata

  • Piano: m. 21, remove the dot from the dotted quarter at the end of the measure (should be a quarter note, as in m. 25).
  • Celesta: m. 21, remove the dot from the dotted quarter at the end of the measure (should be a quarter note, as in m. 25).


Program Notes

From a Dark Millennium was commissioned by a consortium of college band directors from the Midwest in 1980 (the Mid-America Band Directors Association) and premiered by the University of Northern Illinois Wind Ensemble in 1981. It is a re-working of a movement from Schwantner’s earlier chamber work, Music of Amber. This work marks the only occasion in which Schwantner has used the same source material for two different works. The title is drawn from a poem written by Schwantner:

SANCTUARY...

Deep forests
a play of Shadows
most ancient murmurings
from a dark millennium
the trembling fragrance
of the music of amber
-Joseph Schwantner

- Program Note by Nikk Pilato


Written for woodwinds, brasses, and piano/celeste, the work includes an expanded percussion section. Challenges include complex rhythms, changing meters, singing and whistling, and extremes of range and volume. The piece ends with a quiet reference to a dark and solemn ostinato which first appears early in the score.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band


From a Dark Millennium shows how an experienced composer can transform original material into more than one aesthetically satisfying form and still meet performance deadlines. The work is Schwantner’s second piece for the medium, commissioned by the Mid-American Conference Band Directors Association in 1980 after the success of ...and the mountains rising nowhere. It draws its musical material from an early Schwantner chamber work entitled Music of Amber. Both pieces were inspired by the composer’s poem “Sanctuary.”

Schwantner does not consider From a Dark Millennium to be programmatic, but he acknowledges that “the mysterious and shadowy atmosphere... springs from images drawn from a brief original poem that forms the poetic backdrop for the work. The poem helped to stimulate, provoke, and enhance the flow of my musical ideas.”

- Program Note from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble concert program, 21 April 2016


In 1980, the Mid-American Conference Band Directors Association commissioned Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph Schwantner to write a follow-up work to his landmark ...and the mountains rising nowhere of 1977. The resulting work, From a Dark Millennium, received its premiere by the University of Northern Illinois Wind Ensemble in 1981. A re-working of a material from his chamber work, Music of Amber, this marked the only occasion in which Schwantner borrowed earlier material for a subsequent work. Both works draw inspiration from Schwantner’s poetry:

Sanctuary...
deep forests
a play of shadows,
most ancient murmurings
from a dark millennium,
the trembling fragrance
of the music of amber…

From a Dark Millennium has come to be seen as the second movement in a trilogy of sorts for wind ensemble including …and the mountains rising nowhere (1977), and In evening’s stillness… (1996) – bookends to From a Dark Millennium (1981). Although Schwantner does not consider From a Dark Millennium to be programmatic, he does admit that, “the mysterious and shadowy atmosphere ... springs from images drawn from a brief original poem that forms the poetic backdrop for the work. The poem helped to stimulate, provoke, and enhance the flow of my musical ideas.”

As a composition, From a Dark Millennium is a model of economy, spun out from the material heard in the first measure: a re-ordered “octatonic scale” [F, F#, Ab, A, B, C, D, Eb] -- a scale that ascends by alternating half-steps and whole-steps. The work features several of Schwantner’s “hallmark techniques,” the most apparent of which are a prominent, almost solisitc piano, and several large-scale percussion parts.

- Program Note from State University of New York, Potsdam, Crane Wind Ensemble concert program, 14 February 2018


Commercial Discography


State Ratings

  • South Carolina: VI
  • Texas: V


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Missouri, Kansas City, Wind Ensemble (Joseph Parisi, conductor) – 17 October 2019
  • Hope College (Holland, Mich.) Wind Ensemble (Gabe Southard, conductor) – 8 April 2019
  • University of Colorado Boulder Wind Symphony (Donald J. McKinney, conductor) – 20 March 2019
  • Binghamton (N.Y.) University Wind Symphony (Daniel Fabricius, conductor) – 24 February 2019
  • Utah Valley University (Orem, Utah) Wind Symphony (Thomas Keck, conductor) - 10 October 2018
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Mark Scatterday, conductor) – 12 October 2018
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Wind Symphony (Jaclyn Hartenberger, conductor) – 20 April 2018
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Orchestra (Terrence Milligan, conductor) – 15 February 2018
  • State University of New York, Potsdam, Crane Wind Ensemble (Brian K. Doyle, conductor) – 14 February 2018
  • Boston University (Mass.) Wind Ensemble (David Martins, conductor) – 16 November 2017
  • University of Maryland (College Park) Wind Orchestra (Brian Coffill, conductor) - 10 November 2017
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Eric Laprade, conductor) – 3 March 2017
  • University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) Wind Ensemble (Christopher Knighten, conductor; Tomoko Kashiwagi, piano) – 24 February 2017
  • University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire Wind Symphony (John R. Stewart, conductor) - 18 November 2016
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Symphony (Stephen G. Peterson, conductor) – 30 October 2016
  • Brooklyn (N.Y.) Wind Symphony (Jeff Ball, conductor) – 29 October 2016
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble (William L. Lake, Jr., conductor) – 21 April 2016
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) Wind Ensemble (Tonya Mitchell, conductor) – 18 April 2016
  • University of Oregon (Eugene) Wind Ensemble (Rodney Dorsey, conductor) – 9 March 2016
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Symphonic Winds (Martin H. Seggelke, conductor) – 29 February 2016
  • Florida State University Wind Orchestra (Jason S. Ladd conductor) - April 24, 2009


Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources