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Sinfonia in B flat Minor

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Amilcare Ponchielli

Amilcare Ponchielli (ed. Luca Valenti)

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This work bears the designation Opus 153.

General Info

Year: 1872 / 2001
Duration: c. 9:30
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Masters Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $145.00   |   Score Only (print) - $20.00


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Twenty-two years after Ponchielli composed an end-of-school-year project that he later reworked for band in Piacenza, he composed a second, original Sinfonia for band. The apellation as a "2a Sinfonia" was not appended until a cover was made for these scores after Ponchielli had left Cremona. According to the concert programs in Il Corriere Cremonese, it may never have been performed by Ponchielli, as he seems to have ended his activities as capobanda in early 1873. The title page further identifies the site of the band's rehearsals and school as being located in the monastery associated with the Dominican church that held the tomb of Antonio Stradivari.

In spite of the obvious sophistication of the scoring, the role of the editor remains considerable due to Ponchielli's free-wheeling approach to scoring. The opening in B-flat Minor returns briefly before the cadential rush at the end, minus a key signature change. It is only from accidentals that one can deduce that five flats are required. Further, there are passages where there are more notes than players, leaving the final voicing up to rehearsals. In spite of all these concerns, Ponchielli obviously spent a great deal of time in preparing the materials for the final scoring.

The overall structure can be seen in the re-scored Sinfonia from his early student days in Milan and his own transcription of La Savoiarda, i.e., a slow introduction followed by a presentation of several themes in minor and then major, all wrapped up in a lively coda. The masterwork of this piece is its three-part fugal introduction (with countersubjects and real answers) followed by a type of thematic transformation throughout that relies solely upon the motifs presented in the fugal entry.

The band of 1872 was Ponchielli's "ideal," which he had been working toward since he arrived in Piacenza in August, 1860. The combination of a 12-14-member clarinet section with a group of 14-16 conical brass, 7 cylindrical brass, and 2-3 percussion provided a robust yet limited timbre palette for his work.

- Program Note from Sam Houston State University

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

  • Florida: VI


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Works for Winds by This Composer