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Prelude from "49th Parallel"

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Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams (trans. Leroy Osmon)

General Info

Year: 1941 / 1960 / 1987 / 2002
Duration: c. 2:30
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: G & M Brand
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $55.00   |   Score Only (print) - $7.50


Full Score
Flute I-II
English Horn (optional)
Bassoon 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-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Ralph Vaughan Williams was in his sixties when in 1941 he produced his first film score for Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 49th Parallel. The prelude, an orhestral hymn in praise of freedom nd mutual trust, accompanies the film's prologue which is spoken over majestic shots of the Canadian Rockies.

The Prelude was originally scored for strings and a few wind instruments. Osmon's orchestration retains the rich text of the original, utilizing thick scoring throughout. The entie Prelude is played molto legato, and its harmonies show a delightful simplicity.

Osmon's orchestration was completed in December 1987 and is "dedicated to my friend Lee Boyd Montgomery.

- Program Note from score by Christopher Palmer

49th Parallel is a 1941 British war drama film. The British Ministry of Information approached Michael Powell to make a propaganda film for them, suggesting he make "a film about mine-sweeping". Instead, Powell decided to make a different film to help sway opinion in the then-neutral United States.

Early in World War II, U-37, a German U-boat, makes its way to Canadian waters and participates in fictional anti-shipping activities similar to those of the later Battle of the St. Lawrence. The U-boat evades the RCN and RCAF patrols by moving north. A raiding party of six Kriegsmarine sailors are put ashore to obtain supplies, but soon after the U-boat is sunk in Hudson Bay by RCAF bombers. The six attempt to evade capture by travelling across Canada to reach the neutral United States and return to Germany.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


State Ratings

  • Maryland: IV


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Columbus (Ohio) State Community College Concert Band (Thomas Lloyd, conductor) - 1 May 2018

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