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Spoon River (arr Bainum)

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Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (arr. Glenn Bainum)

Subtitle: An American Folk Dance

General Info

Year: 1929 / 1967 / 2009
Duration: c. 4:40
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Fiddle
Publisher: G. Schirmer, Inc.
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $85.00   |   Score Only (print) - $12.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
Cornets I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Piano (optional)
Harp (optional)
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Xylophone


In Parts:

  • Piccolo, m. 48, beat 2: Tenuto should be an accent
  • Piccolo, m. 64, beat 2: Accent should be a tenuto
  • Piccolo, m. 88: Missing rehearsal mark "88"
  • Piccolo, m. 120: Missing rehearsal mark "120"
  • Piccolo, m. 181, beat 1: Remove accent from whole note
  • Flute I, m. 65, beat 2: Remove tenuto from half note
  • Flute I, m. 75, and of beat 1: In oboe cue, D5 should be a B4
  • Flute I, m. 80-81: Hairpin crescendo should start on beat 1 of m. 80 and last through the and of beat 2 of m. 81
  • Flute I, m. 83: Hairpin diminuendo should start on beat 1
  • Flute I, m. 85: Hairpin crescendo should start on the "a" of beat 2
  • Trombone I, m. 88-92: Should be 4 measures of rest instead of 8

Program Notes

A Captain Charles H. Robinson heard a tune called Spoon River played by a rustic fiddler at a country dance at Bradford, Illinois in 1857. When Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology appeared in 1914, Captain Robinson (then nearly 90 years old) was struck by the likeness of the two titles — and he sent the Spoon River tune to Masters, who passed it on to me.

The tune [is] very archaic in character; typically American, yet akin to certain Scottish and English dance-tune types. My setting (begun March 10, 1919; ended February 1, 1929) aims at preserving a pioneer blend of lonesome wistfulness and sturdy persistence. It bears the following dedication: “For Edgar Lee Masters, poet of pioneers.”

- Program Note by composer

Based on an early American fiddle tune, the melody is fully explored and developed in a variety of harmonizations and instrumental colors, and is particularly noteworthy for the extensive use of mallet percussion as well as important parts for piano and harp. This publication brings back the classic 1967 edition arranged for band by Glenn Cliffe Bainum.

- Program Note by publisher

Spoon River Anthology (1915), by Edgar Lee Masters, is a collection of short free-form poems that collectively narrates the epitaphs of the residents of Spoon River, a fictional small town named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters' home town. The aim of the poems is to demystify the rural, small town American life.

Percy Grainger wrote his piano-centric Spoon River inspired by Spoon River Anthology and based on a preexisting fiddle tune called Spoon River, which has since been adapted for bands.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Captain Charles H. Robinson heard the American fiddle tune Spoon River at a country dance in Bradford, Illinois, in 1897. When Edgar Lee Masters published his Spoon River Anthology in 1914, Robinson was amazed by the similar titles. He sent the folk tune to Masters, who sent it to Grainger. Grainger composed Spoon River in 1922, first as a piano solo and later utilizing elastic scoring, which allowed it to be played by any combination of instrumentalists from three to full orchestra. A version for band was performed in 1933 by Edwin Franko Goldman, but it was never published and the parts were lost.

This version was created by Glenn Cliffe Bainum in 1967. Throughout the work, the upbeat 16-measure American dance tune is fully explored and developed using varying harmonies, accompanimental textures, and shifting instrumental timbres. The use of harp, piano, and “tuneful percussion” (i.e. chimes, bells, xylophone, marimba) adds melodic and harmonic interest.

- Program Note from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, University Band concert program, 2 October 2018

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

  • Kansas: IV
  • Michigan: Senior High AA
  • Minnesota: I


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Pittsburg (Kan.) State University Wind Ensemble (Andrew D. Chybowski, conductor) - 19 November 2020
  • State University of New York, Potsdam, Symphonic Band (Brian K. Doyle, conductor) – 21 November 2019
  • University of Texas (Austin) Symphony Band (Joshua Gall, conductor) – 7 December 2018
  • University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Symphony Band (Kevin Sedatole, conductor) – 16 November 2018
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, University Band (Carolina Perez, conductor) – 2 October 2018
  • University of Texas (Austin) Tower Concert Band (Joshua Gall, conductor) – 26 February 2017
  • Capitol Symphonic Winds (West Hartford, Conn.) (Gary Partridge, conductor) – 30 November 2016
  • Plano (Tex.) East High School Symphonic Band – Spring 2015

Works for Winds by this Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works