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Toccata Marziale

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Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams

General Info

Year: 1924
Duration: c. 4:40
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts - $125.00   |   Score Only - $12.95


Full Score
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet Solo
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet (doubles the Bass Saxophone part)
Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
Bass Saxophone (doubles the Contrabass Clarinet part)
Solo and 1st B-flat Cornet
B-flat Cornet II
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Triangle


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Toccata Marziale, written in 1924, was Vaughan Williams’s second work for military band and is one of the most significant contributions to the wind band literature. The word “toccata” comes from the Italian toccare, meaning “to touch,” hence its association with the early Baroque virtuouso keyboard pieces written by Frescobaldi and others. Toccata Marziale is a contrapunctal masterpiece for wind ensemble, in which textures are juxtaposed in massed effects with large sections of winds and brasses. A rhythmic vigor, as suggested by the title, permeates the piece, and Vaughan Williams’s brilliant scoring reveals the fundamental properties of the band’s sonority and its instrumental virtuosity and color.

- Program Note by Frederick Fennell

This Vaughan Williams composition works well as the opener of a concert program. While playable by both fine high school and university ensembles, conductors should note that the thick scoring can result in a heavy, sluggish performance if players are not proficient with light articulations and styles. Some key compositional traits of this composer are present, such as blurring the downbeat, enacting rhythmic interplay amongst parts, and juxtaposing contrasting melodic styles. When performers take full advantage of these expressive opportunities and highlight the unique qualities of this composition, Toccata Marziale makes for an invigorating contribution to the concert.

- Program Note from Great Music for Wind Band

Toccata Marziale is one of two works Vaughan Williams composed for concert band after being exposed to military bands during his service in the British Army in World War I. Completed in 1924, the “toccata” references an early Baroque genre of virtuosic keyboard music. The piece’s long melodic lines are tempered only by its martial tempo and stately character. Vaughan Williams’s skillful use of the concert band features dialogue between the woodwind and brass sections in a brilliant and constantly shifting texture.

- Program Note from Baylor University Symphonic Band concert program, 21 April 2017


State Ratings

  • Arkansas: V
  • Florida: VI --- (The Florida Bandmasters Association denotes this as significant literature)
  • New York: VI
  • Texas: V


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Texas at Arlington Wind Symphony (Douglas Stotter, conductor) - 14 March 2021
  • Grand Symphonic Winds (St. Paul, Minn.) (Matthew George, conductor) - 12 February 2021
  • Texas A&M University (Lubbock) Wind Symphony (Timothy Rhea, conductor) – 28 February 2020
  • Tallahassee (Fla.) Winds (Patrick Dunnigan, conductor) – 11 February 2020
  • Peabody Institute (Baltimore, Md.) Preparatory Wind Orchestra (Elijah Wirth, conductor) – 14 December 2019
  • Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisc.) Symphonic Band (Matthew Arau, conductor) – 16 November 2019
  • University of Central Florida (Orlando) Wind Ensemble (Danny Santos, conductor) – 7 November 2019
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City) Wind Ensemble (Tim Sexton) – 29 October 2019
  • University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) Wind Ensemble (Christopher Knighten, conductor) – 16 October 2019
  • Southern Adventist University (Collegedale, Tenn.) Wind Symphony (Ken Parsons, conductor) – 13 October 2019
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 27 September 2019
  • State University of New York, Fredonia, Concert Band (Ray Stewart, conductor) – 26 September 2019
  • State University of New York, Potsdam, Crane Wind Ensemble (Brian K. Doyle, conductor) – 20 September 2019
  • Middlesex Concert Band (Wakefield, Mass.) (Mark E. Olson, conductor) – 2 June 2019
  • Golden Gate Park Band (San Francisco, Calif.) (Robert Calonico, conductor) – 26 May 2019
  • Shepherd University (Shepherdstown, W. Va.) Wind Ensemble (Scott Hippensteel, conductor) – 11 May 2019
  • Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.) Preparatory Wind Band (Elijah Wirth, conductor) – 11 May 2019
  • The Northshore Concert Band (Evanston, Ill.) (Donald Hunsberger, conductor) – 17 December 2011 (2011 Midwest Clinic)
  • Arts Academy Band [Interlochen, Mich.] (Frederick Fennell, conductor) – 11 January 1970
  • Eastman Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Frederick Fennell, conductor) – 17 December 1954

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works