Symphony III (Corigliano)

From Wind Repertory Project
John Corigliano

John Corigliano

Subtitle: Circus Maximus

General Info

Year: 2004
Duration: c. 35:05
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: G. Schirmer
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental   |   Score Only - Unknown

Movements (played without pause)

1. Introitus - 3:25
2. Screen/Siren - 4:50
3. Channel Surfing- 5:05
4. Night Music I - 6:40
5. Night Music II - 4:00
6. Circus Maximus
7. Prayer- 6:00
8. Coda: Veritas - 1:40


Full Score
Flutes I-II-III-IV (I and II doubling piccolo)
Oboe I-II-III-IV (I doubling English Horn)
Bassoon I-II-III
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet I-II
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV (I and II doubling D Trumpet)
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
Euphonium I-II
Tuba I-II
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V, including:

  • Anvil
  • Bass Drum
  • Brake Drum
  • Chimes
  • Clicker
  • Congas
  • Crotales
  • Drumset
  • Flexatones (2)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Lion's Roars (2, Low and High)
  • Maracas
  • Police Whistle
  • Ratchet
  • Sirens (2)
  • Snare drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-tam
  • Tambourine
  • Temple Blocks
  • Tenor Drums (2, High and Low)
  • Triangle
  • Tom-toms (5)
  • Vibraphone
  • Whip
  • Woodblock
  • Xylophone
  • 12-gauge shotgun

Surround Band

  • B-flat Soprano Clarinet
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone
  • Horn in F I-II
  • B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV-V-VI-VII-VIII-IX-X-XI
  • String Bass
  • Percussion I-II-III, including:
    • Crotales (3)
    • Snare Drums (3)

Marching Band

  • C Piccolo (doubling Flute)
  • E-flat Soprano Clarinet
  • B-flat Trumpet I-II (trumpets V and VII from Surround Band)
  • Trombone I-II
  • Percussion (Percussion II from Surround Band), including:
    • Bass Drum
    • Suspended Cymbal


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Circus Maximus is my first work specifically written for concert band. Many years ago, I arranged my piano-four-hand suite, Gazebo Dances, for band, but I have always felt more comfortable writing for the symphony orchestra. The sight of a multi-staved-and-transposed-band score still fills me with dread.

Attending a band concert, in contrast, I find exhilarating. For starters, the repertoire of band music is largely contemporary. As a result the audiences expect and look forward to new works. Listening in an environment largely ignored by the press, they learn to trust their own ears and respond directly to what they hear. Most important of all, concert bands devote large amounts of rehearsal time over a period of weeks – not days – to learning thoroughly the most challenging of scores. With its combination of new notations and spatial challenges demanding an intricate coordination of a large work, Circus Maximus could only have been attempted under such special circumstances.

I owe a great debt to the dedicatee of Circus Maximus, Jerry Junkin. He approached me about writing an original band work years ago. I declined at the time, because – frankly – the thought of that enormous ensemble, composed of so many instruments I had never written for, overwhelmed me. But Jerry persisted; and his encouragement both in commissioning me to write this work and during the composing process (during which he was incredibly supportive) has really made this piece possible. Jerry wanted a large and theatrical piece: a third symphony. And, when I thought about that, it made a certain sense. My first symphony was for large symphony orchestra, my second for string orchestra alone, and this piece is for winds, brass and percussion alone.

For the past three decades I have started the compositional process by building a shape, or architecture, before coming up with any musical material. In this case, the shape was influenced by a desire to write a piece in which the entire work is conceived spatially. But I started simply wondering what dramatic premise would justify the encirclement of the audience by musicians, so that they were in the center of an arena. This started my imagination going, and quite suddenly a title appeared in my mind: Circus Maximus.

The Latin words, understandable in English, convey an energy and power by themselves. But the Circus Maximus of ancient Rome was a real place - the largest arena in the world. 300,000 spectators were entertained by chariot races, hunts, and battles. The Roman need for grander and wilder amusement grew as its empire declined. The parallels between the high decadence of Rome and our present time are obvious. Entertainment dominates our reality, and ever-more-extreme "reality" shows dominate our entertainment. Many of us have become as bemused by the violence and humiliation that flood the 500-plus channels of our television screens as the mobs of imperial Rome, who considered the devouring of human beings by starving lions just another Sunday show.

The shape of my Circus Maximus was built both to embody and to comment on this massive and glamorous barbarity. It utilizes a large concert band, and lasts approximately 35 minutes. The work is in eight sections that are played without pause.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Sarah McKoin, conductor) - 21 October 2022
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Wind Ensemble (Scott Teeple, conductor) – 5 December 2019
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony (Kevin Michael Holzman, conductor) – 15 September 2019
  • Boston (Mass.) Conservatory Wind Ensemble (Vimbayi Kaziboni, conductor) – 3 May 2019
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Wind Ensemble (Damon Talley, conductor) – 24 April 2019
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Eric Laprade, conductor) – 3 February 2017
  • Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra (Shizuo Z Kuwahara, conductor) – 28 January 2017
  • Mahidol Wind Orchestra (Nakhonpathom, Thailand) (Thanapol Setabrahmana, conductor) – 18 July 2016
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 24 November 2015
  • University of Texas Composers' Wind Ensemble (Jerry Junkin, conductor) - 20 February 2015
  • The Juilliard School (Marin Alsop, conductor) – 9 February 2013
  • Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor)- 14 May 2010
  • Ohio State University Wind Symphony (Russel Mikkelson, conductor) - 1 December 2008
  • University of Miami Wind Ensemble (Gary Green, conductor) - 9 October 2008
  • Detroit Symphony (Leonard Slatkin, conductor) - 3-6 April 2008
  • University of Southern California (Los Angeles) Thorton Wind Ensemble (H. Robert Reynolds, conductor) - 30 March 2008
  • Aspen Music Festival (David Zinman, conductor) - 24 June 2007
  • University of Illinois Symphonic Band - 20 November 2006
  • Dallas Wind Symphony (Jerry Junkin, conductor) - 14 November 2006
  • Larvick School of Music (Norway) - 10 June 2006

Works for Winds by This Composer