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Overture to "Colas Breugnon" (tr Hunsberger)

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Dmitri Kabalevsky

Dmitri Kabalevsky (trans. Donald Hunsberger)

The work bears the designation Opus 24.

General Info

Year: 1937 / 2003
Duration: c. 5:15
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts - $120.00   |   Score Only - $10.00


Full Score
C Piccolo/Flute III
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Fleugelhorn I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Xylophone


  • Percussion, top of page 5: Reh. no. 42 should read 41 (42 occurs 7 measures later).

Program Notes

Originally composed in 1937, the overture contains a pulsating and driving rhythmic force which is balanced by the flowing secondary theme. As Hunsberger describes, “The orchestral colors are in a class of their own, ranging from overwhelming fortissimos to chamber effects to raucous splashes of wind and percussion energy.”

- Program Note from publisher

As the son of a mathematician, Dmitri Kabalevsky was encouraged by his father to study math and economics. Kabalevsky, however, showed an early aptitude for the arts and started his formal music education at the Scriabin School of Music in Moscow when he was fourteen. He entered the Moscow Conservatory in 1925, where he studied composition with Nikolai Miaskovsky and earned a full professorship in 1939.

Kabalevsky was a composer during a period in Russia’s history that was full of stylistic constraints for artists. His music embodied the Russian government’s music ideology which was reminiscent of Russian folk songs and steered clear of modernism.

Kabalevsky’s first opera, Colas Breugnon: Master of Clamecy, was based a novel of the same name by French author Romain Rolland. The story centers on the love life of a scalawag wood carver, Colas Breugnon, who is antagonized by a villainous Duke. The spirited music in the comedic opera turns dramatic when soldiers return and introduce a plague to the village and the Duke orders the wood carvers’ statues burned. The comedy returns when the wood carver gets revenge on the Duke by carving a statue of the Duke riding backwards on a donkey for the entire village to see and enjoy. The excitement and brisk nature of the overture has not only made it a favorite in orchestra halls, but transcriptions by Harding, Beeler, and Hunsberger for wind band have also ensured its popularity in the wind band genre.

- Program Note from Amador Valley High School Wind Ensemble concert program, 19 December 2013

This overture is a brisk, brilliant, and high-spirited piece, written as the curtain raiser of Kabalevsky's opera based on Romain Rolland's lusty novel of life in Burgundy, France, during the 16th century. The hero of the story has something in him of both Robin Hood and Francois Villon (a French lyric poet who was banished from Paris in 1463), and Kabalevsky has written music admirably fitting this character.

- Program Note by Everett Kisinger from Program Notes for Band and Band Music Notes


State Ratings

  • Florida: VI
  • Georgia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minn.) Wind Orchestra (James Patrick Miller, conductor) - 2 October 2022
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Wind Symphony (David A. Waybright, conductor) – 20 February 2020
  • DeKalb (Ill.) High School Wind Ensemble (Steve Lundin, conductor) – 15 November 2019
  • Los Alamos (N.M.) Community Winds (Ted Vives, conductor) – 19 October 2019
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Concert Band (Jason H. Nam, conductor) – 6 April 2019
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Mark Scatterday, conductor) – 4 February 2019
  • State University of New York, Fredonia, Wind Symphony (Donna Dolson, conductor) – 4 September 2018
  • Northern Illinois University (DeKalb) Wind Ensemble (Thomas Bough, conductor) – 28 February 2018
  • Wheaton North High School Wind Ensemble (Kent Krause, conductor) - 27 February 2018
  • West Chester University (Penn.) Wind Symphony (M. Gregory Martin, conductor) – 15 February 2018
  • North Shore Senior High School (Houston, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Shane Goforth, conductor) - 22 December 2017 (2017 Midwest Clinic)
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Wind Ensemble (Emily Threinen, conductor) – 12 December 2017
  • Western Reserve Community Band (Hudson, Ohio) (Ralph Meyer, conductor) – 22 April 2017
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Wind Ensemble (Damon S. Talley, conductor) – 4 October 2016
  • University of Georgia (Athen) Hodgson Wind Symphony (Jaclyn Hartenberger, conductor) – 19 September 2016
  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Symphony (Scott Hanna, conductor) – 6 April 2016
  • Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) Wind Orchestra (David Blackinton, conductor) - 5 March 2015
  • Eastman Wind Orchestra (Mark Davis Scatterday, conductor) - 24 November 2014

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Kabalevsky, D.; Hunsberger, D. (1937). Overture to Colas Breugnon [score]. Schirmer: Chester, N.Y.
  • Smith, Norman and Albert Stoutamire (1979) Band Music Notes. Rev. ed. San Diego: Kjos West, p. 129
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 334.