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Ghost Train

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Eric Whitacre

Eric Whitacre

General Info

Year: 1994
Duration: c. 20:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $375.00   |   Score Only (print) - $60.00


1. Ghost Train: The Ride – 5:25
2. At the Station – 6:55
3. Motive Resolution – 7:40


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet I-II
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:

  • Anvil
  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • Chinese Cymbal
  • Crickets
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Hi-Hat
  • Sleigh Bells
  • Snare Drum
  • Splash Cymbals
  • Surdo
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-tam
  • Tambourine
  • Tom-toms
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Waterphone
  • Wind Chimes
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The legend of the Ghost Train, a supernatural machine that roars out of the night through forgotten towns and empty canyons, is deeply rooted in American folklore, and it was this spirit I worked to capture.

The compositional challenge came in creating a larger three-movement work from the first movement which was originally conceived and performed as a single event. I felt that the use of trains as a source of sounds and inspirations was virtually inexhaustible, but I wanted to save the integrity of the original while using it as the architectural foundation. At the Station is just that: the train comes to a roaring halt and the passengers depart. In this movement I see countless images: friends and family reunited, the soaring architecture of the station itself, and the genuine sincerity and innocence of the era. After a reflective pastiche the locomotive builds up steam and slowly departs, grand and graceful. The Motive Revolution is twofold in its implication. The name refers to the period between 1850 and 1870 when steam engines revolutionized transportation, and also describes the cyclical treatment of musical motive throughout the movement. The train blazes across the country side, moonlight glistening off it's dark steel, and ends with a final, heroic tribute to these machines and the people who worked them.

The first movement was written in the winter of 1993-1994 and received its premiere March 7th, 1994. Movements II and III were written in the winter of 1994-1995, and the entire triptych received its premiere on March 14th, 1995. Ghost Train was written for and is dedicated to Thomas G. Leslie and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Wind Symphony.

- Program Note by Eric Whitacre


State Ratings

  • Kansas: V
  • Louisiana: V
  • Michigan: Senior High AA
  • Minnesota: II
  • North Carolina: Concert Band Masterworks
  • Tennessee: V
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Queen's University (Kingston, Ont., Can.) Wind Ensemble (Dan Tremblay, conductor) – 2 April 2022
  • Grove City College Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Andrew Erb, conductor) - 24 March 2022
  • California State University, Stanislaus, Wind Ensemble (Stuart Sims, conductor) – 12 March 2020
  • Bixby (Okla.) High School Wind Ensemble (Jeremy W. Parker, conductor) – 23 February 2020
  • Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Symphony Band (Chris Chapman, conductor) – 3 December 2019
  • Mercyhurst University (Erie, Penn.) Wind Ensemble (Scott Meier, conductor) – 27 October 2019
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Symphonic Band (Michael Robinson, conductor) – 27 September 2019
  • University of Toronto (Ont., Can.) Wind Ensemble (Gillian MacKay, conductor) - 5 April 2019
  • Ohlone Wind Orchestra (Fremont, Calif.) (Tony Clements, conductor) – 10 March 2019
  • Iowa State University (Ames) Symphonic Band (Stephen Smyth, conductor) – 15 February 2019
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Symphonic Band (Alexander Baczewski, conductor) – 23 October 2018
  • Los Angeles (Calif.) Symphonic Winds (Stephen Piazza, conductor) – 7 October 2018
  • Metropolitan Wind Symphony (Lexington, Mass). (Louis J. Buckley, conductor) – 6 May 2018
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Orchestra (Terrence Milligan, conductor) – 18 April 2018
  • Yale University (New Haven, Conn.) Concert Band (Thomas Duffy, conductor) – 13 April 2018
  • Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) Symphonic Band (Kirk Saville, conductor; Ray Smith, tenor saxophone; Stephen Lindeman, piano) – 4 April 2018
  • United States Army Field Band (Domingos Robinson, conductor) – 12 March 2018 (Melbourne, Fla.)
  • Brock University (St. Catharines, Ont.) Wind Ensemble (Zoltan Kalman, conductor) – 6 December 2017
  • Hope College (Holland, Mich.) Wind Ensemble (Gabe Southard, conductor) – 31 October 2017
  • University of Evansville (Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Kenneth Steinsultz, conductor) – 31 October 2017
  • North Dakota State University (Fargo) Wind Symphony (Warren Olfert, conductor) 15 October 2017

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • The Seal Lullaby (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Ambrose) (2011/2021)
  • Sing Gently (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Mösenbichler-Bryant) (2020/2021)

All Wind Works