Third Symphony (Barnes)

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James Barnes

James Barnes

This work bears the designation Opus 89, and is sometimes nicknamed The Tragic.

General Info

Year: 1997
Duration: c. 38:20
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Keiser Southern Music Company
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $395.00   |   Score Only (print) - $115.00


1. Lento – 12:35
2. Scherzo – 5:20
3. Mesto (For Natalie) – 12:50
4. Finale – 6:55


Full Score
Flute I-II-III (one III doubling Alto Flute)
Oboe I-II-III (III doubling English Horn)
Bassoon I-II-III (III doubling Contrabassoon)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra-Alto Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet (may substitute for Contrabassoon)
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II (I doubling Soprano Saxophone)
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
B-flat Flugelhorn I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bell Tree
  • Crotales
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Field Drums
  • Finger Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum (+ piccolo snare)
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Temple Blocks
  • Triangles (4)
  • Tubular Bells
  • Vibraphone
  • Whip
  • Wind Chimes (metal)
  • Wood Blocks
  • Xylophone



In Score:

  • Horn in F I, Movement 3, m.41: The French horn note in measure 41 is missing. There should be a whole note B-flat printed in that measure.

In Parts:

  • Tenor Sax, Movement 3, m.163: This measure should be played by the baritone saxophone instead of tenor saxophone. Measure 163 should be a whole measure of rest.
  • Baritone Sax, Movement 3, m.163: The baritone saxophone solo line is missing from the part. It should match the score.

Program Notes

The Third Symphony was commissioned by the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. The conductor of the band at the time, Col. Alan Bonner, told me that he wanted a major work for wind band. He said that he didn't care about style, length, difficulty, or anything else; I was given complete freedom to write whatever I wanted to. I began to work on it in earnest at a very difficult time in my life, right after our baby daughter, Natalie, died. This symphony is the most emotionally draining work that I have ever composed. If it were to be given a nickname, I believe that "Tragic" would be appropriate. The work progresses from the deepest darkness of despair all the way to the brightness of fulfillment and joy.

The first movement is a work of much frustration, bitterness, despair, and despondency -- all my own personal feelings after losing my daughter. The scherzo (second movement) has a sarcasm and bitter sweetness about it, because it has to do with the pomposity and conceit of certain people in the world. The third movement is a fantasia about what my world would have been like if Natalie had lived. It is a farewell to her. The finale (fourth movement) represents a rebirth of spirit, a reconciliation for us all. The second theme of the last movement is based on an old Lutheran children's hymn called I am Jesus' Little Lamb. This hymn was sung at Natalie's funeral. The last stanza of the song reads:

Who so happy as I am

Even now the Shepherd's lamb?
And when my short life is ended,
By His angel host attended,
He shall fold me to His breast,
There within His arms to rest.

Three days after I completed this symphony, on June 25, 1994, our son Billy Barnes was born. If the third movement is for Natalie, then the finale is really for Billy, and our joy in being blessed with him after the tragic death of his sister.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Florida: VI
  • Georgia: VI
  • Louisiana: V
  • Maryland: VI
  • North Carolina: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Symphonic Band (Jerry Luckhardt, conductor) -- 28 November 2023
  • Westwood High School (Austin, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Thomas Turpin, conductor) - 22 December 2023 (2023 Midwest Clinic)
  • La Crosse (Wisc.) Wind Symphony (Jeff Krauklis, conductor) - 5 November 2023
  • Luther College (Decorah, Iowa) Dorian All-Band Reunion Band (Cory Near, conductor) - 2 July 2023
  • Piedmont Wind Symphony (Winston-Salem, N.C.) (Mark A. Norman, conductor) - 11 February 2023
  • Chicago Wind Symphony (Chicago, Ill.) (Michael McCain, conductor) - 7 January 2023
  • Kansas Wesleyan University (Salina) Wind Ensemble (James McAllister, conductor) - 6 December 2022
  • Towson (Md.) University Symphonic Band (Christopher Cicconi, conductor) - 1 December 2022
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Wind Symphony (Jaclyn Hartenberger, conductor) - 21 September 2022
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington) Wind Symphony (John Cody Birdwell, conductor) - 18 September 2022
  • Indiana Wind Symphony (Carmel) (Charles P. Conrad, conductor) - 21 November 2021 (Concert scheduled but cancelled)
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Ryan J. Nowlin, conductor) - 29 July 2021
  • Bentonville (Ark.) High School Wind Ensemble (Timothy Hendrix, conductor) — 17 December 2020
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) Wind Ensemble (Tom Davoren, conductor) – 20 November 2020
  • Fresno (Calif.) State University Wind Orchestra (Gary P. Gilroy, conductor) – 27 February 2020
  • University of Central Arkansas (Conway) Wind Ensemble (Ricky Brooks, conductor) – 21 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 Southwestern Division Conference, Norman, Okla.)
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts (Winston-Salem) Wind Ensemble (Mark Norman, conductor) – 16 February 2020
  • Yale University (New Haven, Conn.) Concert Band (Thomas Duffy, conductor) – 17 November 2019
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Ryan Nowlin, conductor) – 22 August 2019
  • Connecticut (Fairfield) Symphonic Winds (Charles Brian DePaul, conductor) – 18 May 2019

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Barnes, J. (1997). Third Symphony, Opus 89 [score]. Southern Music: San Antonio, Tex.
  • Miles, Richard B. 2000. Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. Volume 3. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 763-770.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 38.
  • "Third Symphony (Tragic) op. 89." Wind Band Symphony Archive. Accessed 18 August 2023