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Symphony for Band (Persichetti)

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Vincent Persichetti

Vincent Persichetti

Subtitle: Symphony No. 6

This work bears the designation Opus 69.

General Info

Year: 1956
Duration: c. 17:05
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Elkan Vogel, Inc / Theodore Presser Company
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $175.00   |   Score Only (print) - $50.00


1. Adagio allegro – 5:55
2. Adagio sostenuto – 3:40
3. Allegretto – 2:25
4. Vivace – 4:25


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium I-II
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Sizzle Cymbal
  • Snare Drums (3: soprano, alto, tenor)
  • Suspended Cymbals (2)
  • Tambourine
  • Tenor Drum
  • Tom-tom
  • Triangle
  • Xylophone

Players singing


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Symphony for Band was commissioned and premiered by Clark Mitze and the Washington University Band at the MENC Convention in St. Louis on April 16, 1956. According to the composer, it could have been titled Symphony for Winds, following, as it did, his Symphony No. 5 for Strings. Persichetti, however, did not wish to avoid the word “band,” which he felt no longer had the connotation of a poor quality of music. In the autumn 1964 Journal of Band Research, he wrote, “Band music is virtually the only kind of music in America today (outside of the ‘pop’ field) which can be introduced, accepted, put to immediate and wide use, and become a staple of the literature in a short time.” According to Jeffrey Renshaw, “The Symphony for Band ... was in many ways such a departure from the established concepts of band works that it influenced the attitudes of generations of composers.”

The four movements (Adagio allegro, Adagio sostenuto, Allegretto, and Vivace) have forms with traditional implications. The opening horn call and a following scale-wise passage in the slow introduction become the two principal themes (in reverse order) in the subsequent Allegro. The standard exposition, development, and recapitulation of sonata form are the Allegro, although the traditional key relationships are not completely retained. The slow second movement is based on Round Me Falls the Night, from the composer’s Hymns and Responses for the Church Year. The third movement, in trio form, serves as the traditional dance movement and is followed by a finale in free rondo form, which draws the thematic material from the preceding movements and concludes with a chord containing all 12 tones of the scale.

- Program Note from San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra concert program, March 2, 2010

Persichetti composed his massive Symphony for Band during a time when directors vigorously sought repertoire that distinguished bands as serious performance groups. Over fifty years later, this work continues to receive frequent performances and is regarded as a masterpiece of the genre. Symphony for Band is based upon relatively short, rhythmic motives that are manipulated in a variety of ways. Persichetti tends to preserve distinct instrumental families, so brass, woodwind, and percussion often function as independent groups. Collegiate bands and exceptional high school groups would be able to navigate the technical challenges in this historically significant piece.

- Program Note from Great Music for Wind Band

Commercial Discography

Media Links

State Ratings

  • Florida:  ---   (The Florida Bandmasters Association denotes this as "significant literature.")
    • Grade IV: Movement 2 only
    • Grade V: Movements 1, 2, and one other
    • Grade VI: Complete Symphony
  • New York:
    • Grade VI: Movement 4 and one other
  • Texas:
    • Grade III: Play 1 movement only
    • Grade IV: Play 3 movements
    • Grade V: Play all movements
  • Virginia:
    • Grade VI: Movement 1 only
    • Grade VI: Movement 4 only
    • (a full performance of the entire symphony counts as two grade VI works).


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Band (Eric Allen, conductor) - 7 May 2021
  • Hope College (Holland, Mich.) Wind Ensemble (Gabe Southard, conductor) - 23 April 2021
  • Texas A&M University (College Station) Symphonic Winds (Travis Almany, conductor) – 18 October 2020
  • Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minn.) Wind Symphony (James Patrick Miller, conductor) – 21 March 2020 (scheduled, but concert canceled)
  • California State University, Los Angeles Wind Ensemble (Emily Moss, conductor) – 13 March 2020
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg) Wind Ensemble (Derek Shapiro, conductor) – 1 March 2020
  • West Chester University (Penn.) Wind Symphony (M. Gregory Martin, conductor) – 1 March 2020
  • West Chester (Penn.) University Wind Symphony (Gregory Martin, conductor) – 21 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 Eastern Division Conference, Philadelphia, Penn.)
  • Carmel (Ind.) High School Wind Symphony (Michael Pote, conductor) – 21 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 North Central Division Conference, Chicago, Ill.)
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Wind Symphony (David A. Waybright, conductor) – 20 February 2020
  • Ohio University (Athens) Wind Symphony (William Talley, conductor) – 13 February 2020
  • Texas Christian University (Fort Worth) Symphonic Band (Brian Youngblood, conductor) – 11 February 2020
  • Atlanta (Ga.) Wind Symphony (David Kehler, conductor) – 19 January 2020
  • West Chester University (Penn.) Wind Symphony (M. Gregory Martin, conductor) – 4 December 2019
  • Valdosta (Ga.) State University Wind Ensemble (Benjamin Harper, conductor) – 21 November 2019
  • Oregon State University (Corvallis) Wind Ensemble (Erik Leung, conductor) – 21 November 2019
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Concert Band (Courtney Snyder, conductor) – 18 November 2019

Works for Winds by this Composer


  • Cossaboom, Sterling Page. Doctoral Dissertation. Compositional and Scoring Practices for Percussion in Symphonies Written for Concert Band: 1950-1970. University of Connecticut, 1981.
  • Fennell, Frederick. “Vincent Persichetti: Symphony for Band.” BDGuide 2 (September-October 1987): 4–10. Reprinted in A Conductor’s Interpretive Analysis of Masterworks for Band. Galesville, Md.: Meredith Music Publications, 2008. pp. 16–22.
  • Jacob, Irving G. The Use of Percussion in Symphony No. 6 (Symphony for Band) by Vincent Persichetti: A Functional Analysis. Percussionist 15 (Fall 1977): 17-20.
  • Le Page, Brendon. Symphonies for Band, Part 2 Winds Magazine.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 734-742.
  • Nicholson, Chad. (2009). ‘’Great Music for Wind Band: A Guide to the Top 100 Works in Grades IV, V, VI.’’ Galesville, MD: Meredith Music Publications. pp 81-82.
  • Pease, Andrew. "Symphony for Band by Vincent Persichetti." Wind Band Literature. Web.] Accessed 17 January 2018
  • Renshaw, Jeffrey. The Conducting Challenges of Persichetti's Symphony. The Instrumentalist 49 (June 1995): 18-30, 61.
  • Vincent Persichetti at Presser Online