On Winged Flight

From Wind Repertory Project
Gunther Schuller

Gunther Schuller

Subtitle: A Divertimenti for Band

General Info

Year: 1989
Duration: 13:00
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Associated Music Publisher
Cost: Score & Parts - $90.00   |   Score Only - $15.00


1. Prelude
2. Pastorale
3. Nocturne
4. Scherzo
5. Parody - 2:30


Full Score
Flute I-II-III (II doubling Piccolo - III doubling Piccolo/Alto Flute)
English Horn
Bassoon I-II (II doubling Contrabassoon)
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet (doubling Contrabass Clarinet)
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium I-II
Tuba I-II
Cello (3)
String Bass
Percussion I-II, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bell Tree
  • Claves
  • Cowbell
  • Cymbals (antique, sizzle, and small, medium, and large suspended)
  • Drumset
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong (Tam-tam)
  • Gourd
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Tom-Toms (2)
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Whistle
  • Woodblock
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

On Winged Flight, a divertimento for band, was composed on a commission from the United States Air Force Band and is dedicated to their conductor, Lt. Col. James Michael Bankhead. The premiere took place on April 3, 1989, at the Annual American Bandmasters Association Conference at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

In contrast to some of my other band or wind ensemble works, my Divertimento is -- as the name implies -- a more light-hearted work, although, just as in Mozart's Divertimenti, it has its "serious" moments, even "serious" movements.

The five-movement composition begins with a sprightly "Vivace" introductory movement, entitled Prelude, setting the overall lively tone of the work with its cascading woodwind figures, brassy syncopations, and unexpected contrasts.

The second movement, Pastorale, sets a solo alto saxophone in reiterative lyric phrases against a delicate pointillistic web-like woodwind, muted brass, and light percussion background. Jackson Pollack's pointillistic "drip method", setting off foreground objects against multi-colored fragmented backgrounds, comes to mind as an analogy of the visual arts.

The mood becomes more serious in the third movement, Nocturne, a somber rather dark-colored piece, featuring instruments such as bass and contrabass clarinets, contrabassoon, and low brass. Here, too, I was able to use the three cellos that are an unusual feature of the Air Force Band's instrumentation.

The fourth movement, Scherzo, exploits the virtuosic capacities of the wind ensemble, additionally bringing in the colors of the piano and harp. There is a lively rhythmic and harmonic interplay between the different choirs of the ensemble. The Scherzo's light, agitated, mercurial discourse ends quite abruptly in a quiet sustained chord.

The last movement, Parody, carries the following legend: "With a respectful bow to Messrs. Charles Ives, James Reese Europe, and Henry Fillmore." Parody is a wild melange of these early band manifestations -- including many of their most endearing cliches treated in an Ivesian "take-off" fashion, thereby bringing the whole work to an engaging, dazzling conventional "fun" climax.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Temple University (Philadelphia, Penn.) Wind Symphony (Patricia Cornett, conductor) – 27 September 2019
  • University of Missouri, Kansas City, Wind Ensemble (Joseph Parisi, conductor) – 18 September 2019
  • University of Southern California (Los Angeles) Thornton Wind Ensemble (H. Robert Reynolds, conductor) – 23 February 2019 (CBDNA 2019 National Conference, Tempe, Ariz.)
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 30 September 2016
  • Illinois State University Symphonic Winds (Martin H. Seggelke, conductor) - 23 March 2015

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Schuller, G. (1989). On Winged Flight : A Divertimenti for Band [score]. Associated Music Publishers: [New York].