Graceful Ghost Rag

From Wind Repertory Project
This work has been identified for inclusion in the Small Band Repertoire Initiative. You may find discussion of the work's challenges and merits under the Discussion tab above. You may also contribute your own thoughts and recommendations by joining the WRP.

William Bolcom

William Bolcom

General Info

Year: 1970 / 2011
Duration: c. 3:50
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Piano
Publisher: Edward B. Marks Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $85.00; (digital) - $85.00   |   Score Only (print) - $7.50; (digital) - $7.50


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
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
String Bass
Percussion I-II, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Glockenspiel
  • Hi-hat
  • Snare Drum (2)
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Woodblock


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Bolcom’s Graceful Ghost Rag was first composed for piano as a reminiscence of his father. It was designed to expand on possible extensions of composer Louis Chauvin’s French Creole qualities, as displayed in that composer’s sole existing publication, Heliotrope Bouquet. The rag begins with no introduction, suggesting both D-flat major and B-flat minor tonalities until the very end of the first section, when it settles into the minor. A number of syncopations forecast the harmonic changes that follow, providing a fascinating trip through varying temporary keys until working its way back to B-flat minor. The rag provides a truly graceful flow evocative of the title, subtly returning to the opening theme.

The band version is scored by the composer to replicate a pit band from the ragtime era, and is one of several arrangements of this popular work.

- Program Note by Elliott Tackitt for the University of Michigan concert program, 22 February 2018

Adapted from his well-known piano composition, here is William Bolcom's version for symphonic band. Written in a moderate ragtime tempo, this work utilizes a transparent scoring style along with soloistic passages that contrast nicely with brief soli features for various sections of the ensemble. The lyric quality lends itself quite well to the rhythmic and syncopated style making it both uniquely elegant and rewarding.

- Program Note from publisher


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of British Columbia (Vancouver) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Jaelem Bhate, conductor) - 16 February 2023
  • New England Conservatory (Boston) Senior Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble (Allison Lacasse, conductor) – 16 December 2019
  • California State University, Los Angeles Wind Ensemble (Emily Moss, conductor) – 23 September 2019
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) Symphonic Band (Matthew Smith, conductor) – 25 March 2019
  • Temple University (Philadelphia, Penn.) Wind Symphony (Patricia Cornett, conductor) – 27 January 2019
  • California State University, Bakersfield, Concert Band (Leo Sakomoto, conductor) – 17 November 2018
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus) Wind Symphony (Russell C. Mikkelson, conductor) – 26 September 2018
  • University of Missouri, Kansas City, Wind Ensemble (Joseph Parisi, conductor) – 21 September 2018
  • W.D. Packard (Warren, Ohio) Concert Band (Jesse Leyva, conductor) – 22 July 2018
  • University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) Symphonic Band (Jamal Duncan. conductor) – 5 March 2018
  • North Dakota State University (Fargo) Wind Symphony (Warren Olfert, conductor) – 1 March 2018
  • Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo) Concert Band – 23 February 2018 (CBDNA 2018 North Central Conference, Kalamazoo, Mich.)
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Concert Band (Courtney Snyder, conductor) – 22 February 2018 (CBDNA 2018 North Central Conference, Kalamazoo, Mich.)
  • Sierra College (Rocklin, Calif.) Wind Symphony (Greg McLaughlin) – 28 February 2018
  • DeWitt (Mich.) Community Concert Band (Craig Hayward, conductor) – 27 October 2016

Works for Winds by This Composer