In the Bleak Midwinter (arr Smith)

From Wind Repertory Project
Gustav Holst
Robert W. Smith

Gustav Holst (arr. Robert W. Smith)

This work is the second movement of the Holst Winter Suite.

General Info

Year: 1908 / 1992
Duration: c. 3:30
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Alfred Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $70.00   |   Score Only - $7.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
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
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion I-II, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals (2)
  • Gong
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Triangle (both I-II)
  • Wind Chimes


In Parts:

  • Tuba, m.62: Box number in part is written as 61.

In Score & Parts:

  • Saxophone, m.77: Doesn't have forte written on beat 1.

Program Notes

Gustav Holst's beautiful melody serves as the foundation from which Robert W. Smith fashions this remarkable work. From a haunting single voice, a stunning climax is reached before giving way to a simple restatement.

- Program Note from publisher

The traditional hymn In the Bleak Midwinter was composed by Gustav Holst in 1908. It is the second movement of the Holst Winter Suite and the work that inspired the creation of the three-movement tribute to Holst. Ms. Alta Sue Hawkins, a retired Virginia band director, suggested the title to Robert W. Smith as a possible symphonic band setting. Unfortunately, Ms. Hawkins passed away before work was complete.

In remembrance of Ms. Hawkins, Mr. Smith re-scored the work for publication. The composer uses the traditional American folk melody Shenandoah as the contrapunctal line representing Ms. Hawkins' birth and rest in the beautiful valley of Virginia.

In December of 1992, Mr. Smith married into the Hawkins family. His setting of In the Bleak Midwinter is dedicated to Ben, Chuck, and his wife Susan in loving memory of their mother, Alta Sue.

- Program Note from score

In the Bleak Midwinter is a Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti written before 1872 in response to a request from the magazine Scribner's Monthly for a Christmas poem. It was published posthumously in Rossetti's Poetic Works in 1904.

The poem became a Christmas carol after it appeared in The English Hymnal in 1906 with a setting by Gustav Holst.

Harold Darke's anthem setting of 1911 is more complex and was named the best Christmas carol in a poll of some of the world's leading choirmasters and choral experts in 2008.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class D
  • Georgia: IV
  • Iowa: II
  • Kansas: III
  • Louisiana: II
  • Michigan: Junior High AA
  • Mississippi: V-A
  • South Carolina: III
  • Texas: II. Complete
  • Virginia: IV


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Davenport (Iowa) Central High School Wind Symphony (Alexander M. Wilga, conductor) - 15 December 2022
  • Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minn.) Wind Orchestra (Maddi McChesney, conductor) - 21 May 2022
  • Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Wind Ensemble (Kyle Remnant, conductor) - 11 December 2021
  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Concert Band (Amy Birdsong, conductor) - 2 December 2021
  • Catskill Valley Wind Ensemble (Oneonta, N.Y.) (Scott Rabeler, conductor) – 26 January 2020
  • Whitehouse Wind Symphony (Somerville, N.J.) (James P. Sheeley, Jr., conductor) – 8 December 2019
  • Pride of San Antonio (Tx.) Showband – 8 December 2018
  • Arkansas Winds (Farmington) Community Concert Band (Michael Ferguson, conductor) – 3 March 2018
  • Stonewall Brigade Band (Staunton, Va.) (Jamie Taylor, conductor) – 11 December 2017
  • Contra Costa Wind Symphony (Walnut Creek, Calif.) (Brad Hogarth, conductor; Sophia Nieuwsma, harp) – 12 December 2016
  • Sacramento (Calif.) Symphonic Winds (Timothy M. Smith, conductor) – 11 December 2016
  • Smith Honor Band (University of Alabama (Susan Smith, conductor) – 7 February 2016
  • Illinois State (Normal) University University Band (Gavin Smith, conductor) – 13 November 2015
  • Pleasanton (Calif.) Community Concert Band (H. Robert Williams, conductor) - 30 November 2014
  • Pickens (S.C.) High School Wind Ensemble - December 2013

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Music