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Symphonic Requiem

From Wind Repertory Project
James Barnes

James Barnes


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Subtitle: Seventh Symphony for Band

This work bears the designation Opus 135.


General Info

Year: 2015
Duration: c. 30:00
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Southern Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $225.00   |   Score Only (print) - $38.95


Movements

1. Prologue – The Hornets' Nest (Shiloh, April 1862)
2. Marye's Heights (Fredericksburg, December 1862)
3. Longstreet's Assault (The Third Day at Gettysburg, July 1863)
4. Apotheosis (Appomattox, 1865)


Instrumentation

Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
Contra-Bassoon
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
Cornets I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Euphonium
Tuba
String Bass
Harp
Pianoforte and Celesta
Timpani
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V

(percussion detail needed)


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

The American Civil War (1861-65) was the bloodiest conflict in the history of the United States. More Americans died in the Civil War than all the other wars we have fought combined, including World Wars I and II.

The Civil War has been so glorified in 20th Century literature and motion pictures that today many Americans seem to be unaware of the horrendous consequences of this struggle. The cruel reality is that this “War Between the States” was truly fought by “brother against brother” and “father against son.” It was, without doubt, the greatest single tragedy in the history of our nation. America remains affected by the results of this war; some of the old wounds continue to fester to this day.

When James Barnes was commissioned to compose a work for the United States Army Band to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of this catastrophic event, he decided to combine two massive structures into one: a requiem and a symphony. The result is this work, which is intended to portray the heartbreak of three of the most dramatic battles of the war, concluded by an apotheosis, a hymn of respect and praise for the 668,000 soldiers, Confederate and Federal alike, who gave their lives during this monumental conflict.

After a short Prologue, the first movement describes the chaotic, desperate first day of the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862. After successful early advances, Confederates were brought to a standstill by Union soldiers on a horrendous killing ground that came to be known as “The Hornets' Nest.” More Americans died on the first day at Shiloh Meeting House than had perished in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Mexican War combined. It is most ironic that in Hebrew, Shiloh means “place of peace.”

The second movement depicts the tragedy of Marye’s Heights, a hill south of Fredericksburg, Virginia. At the crest of this hill was a high stone wall, backed by a sunken road running first east to west, then turning to the north, allowing Stonewall Jackson’s troops and artillery to fortify in an L-shaped enfilade. Federal troops attacked this position a regiment at a time, but were slaughtered by the thousands in the face of the withering Confederate crossfire. At the end of the day, 9,000 dead and wounded lay before this wall atop Marye’s Heights.

Frozen in indecision, Union General Ambrose Burnside refused to arrange for a temporary truce to remove the thousands casualties on the field. The wounded, intermingled with the dead, lay in agony that night, all the next day and the following night in freezing December weather before Burnside came to his senses. Many southern soldiers later recalled that the first night, an aurora borealis (certainly a very uncommon event in Virginia) glowed in the sky. The blue-clad dead and wounded Union troops gave off an eerie glow in the darkness, as though thousands of ghosts were spread across this killing ground. The end of the music of the second movement goes directly into the third movement, Longstreet’s Assault.

The Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) was the largest battle ever fought on the North American Continent. Approximately 150,000 Americans were involved in this three-day struggle. Having been checked by Union troops on the north and northeast sides of Cemetery Ridge on 1 July, and then having been unsuccessful in desperate struggles at The Devil’s Den, The Peach Orchard and Little Round Top farther South on 2 July, Confederate General Robert E. Lee concluded that the Federal Army must be at its weakest in the center of their fortified position on “the high ground” of Cemetery Ridge. He ordered General James Longstreet to attack with Pickett’s Division (which was relatively fresh, since they had not arrived at Gettysburg until late afternoon of 2 July), reinforced by Pettigrew’s and Trimble’s divisions. Longstreet protested this attack, begging Lee to reconsider, but eventually Lee’s orders were carried out.

Following a lengthy but ineffective Confederate bombardment, Longstreet’s men marched uphill almost a mile over open ground before nearing the Federal center, facing the highly fortified and heavily reinforced Fifth Corps, which was dug in behind a sturdy stone wall. As the company fronts neared the crest, Federal artillery raked the ranks of the advancing regiments with horrendous grapeshot fire. Contemporary accounts describe entire company fronts of Confederate soldiers collapsing “like grain being harvested by a scythe.” Remnants of the rebel line actually reached the wall for a brief moment. The line struggled, began to sway, then finally collapsed at the foot of the stone wall. Yankee soldiers chanted “Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!” as Confederate survivors retreated in confusion across the field to where they had originated the assault.

Longstreet’s Assault was arguably the most disastrous bloodbath of the entire Civil War. Fewer than 5,000 of the approximately 15,000 Confederate troops making this massive assault survived. Witnesses claimed that Confederate dead and wounded piled five deep, with thousands of wounded soldiers writhing in agony in front of the stone wall. Total casualties for both sides after three days of battle at Gettysburg numbered almost 50,000 dead, captured or wounded. Lee lost one third of the entire Army of Northern Virginia.

The final movement, Apotheosis, is intended to portray a sense of relief and the silence of peace after Lee’s surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in April 1865. Sounding a bit like an old harmonium church organ, the movement begins as a simple hymn of reflection, offering closure and peace. The music progressively becomes more dramatic, increasingly declaiming the glory, bravery and dedication of all the Americans, Union and Confederate alike, who gave their lives during this monumental struggle.

- Program Note from score


This tour-de-force by one of our finest band composers, James Barnes, was commissioned for the U.S. Army Band, Colonel Thomas Rotondi, conductor, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. The work portrays three of the most famous battles of that war — Shiloh, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg — and ends with an apotheosis conveying a sense of closure and peace after Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox. Symphonic Requiem is a poignant arid powerful portrayal of this monumental struggle within our nation.

- Program Note from The Instrumentalist


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

  • Texas: IV. Complete
  • Texas: V. Complete


Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources