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Symphony for Brass and Percussion (Reed)

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Alfred Reed

Alfred Reed

This work is also known as the composer's Symphony No. 1.

General Info

Year: 1952 / 1967
Duration: c. 18:25
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Sam Fox through Alfred Music Publishing
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $90.00; (digital) - $90.00   |   Score Only (print) - $10.00; (digital) - $10.00


1. Maestoso; Allegro ma non Troppo – 7:00
2. Largo – 7:00
3. Con Moto – 3:00


Full Score
B-flat Cornet I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Euphonium I-II
Tuba I-II
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Gong
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tom-Tom
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Symphony for Brass and Percussion, originally completed in the summer 1952, received its first performance in December of that year at the College Band Directors National Association convention in Chicago, by member of the Oberlin Symphonic Band under the direction of Donald I. Moore, to whom the work is dedicated. It is the composer’s second major work for the Wind-Brass-Percussion ensemble, following the Russian Christmas Music, and represents an attempt at exploring the possibilities for utilizing on brass and percussion sonorities in an extended piece.

The music is in three movements. The first opens with a broad introduction in which most of the thematic material of the movement is exposed. The allegro section takes the form of an intensive hard-driven march, but it is in triple rather than the usual duple time. The basic theme, already presented in the introduction, is treated with alternate quartal and tertial harmonies, although it is built mainly in fourths throughout. A quiet, almost chorale-like middle section follows the dying away of this first part, after which the original march-like theme returns and brings the first movement to an ending of great sonority.

The second movement, by contrast, is in three-part song form, beginning with a long, lyrical line in baritone, horn and tuba colorings, which is later taken up by the trumpets and trombones. The second part begins as a six-part fugato developing over along pedal point in the timpani. This reaches a high climax which dies away in preparation for the return of the original theme. This is now heard in tuned percussion colors, finally to be taken up again by the original baritone, horn and tuba grouping, bringing the movement to a quiet close.

The third movement is a rondo built on Latin-American rhythms, with the percussion section augmented by three tom-toms, tuned to low, middle and high pitches. It begins with an undulating rhythmic background over which the tubas state a motive which rises higher and higher in register until it is caught up by full trumpets and trombones. This is developed with rhythmic alterations, then dies away, yielding to the second part, which consists of a long lyrical line in canon between the trumpets, set over an inner pedal point figure in the horns. A basso ostinato is sounded by baritone and tuba in octaves. The horns, first in two and then in four parts, take over this theme in turn, followed by trumpets and trombones returning to the first section and its hard-driving rhythms. A short, broadened version of the first theme forms the coda, bringing the movement, as well as the entire Symphony, to a powerful conclusion.

For Donald I. Moore.

- Program Note from score


State Ratings

  • Tennessee: VI


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