Tonic of Wildness, The

From Wind Repertory Project
Michael Markowski

Michael Markowski

General Info

Year: 2017
Duration: c. 6:40
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Markowski Creative
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $175.00   |   Score Only (print) - $25.00


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

  • Bass Drum
  • Bell Tree
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Patio Chimes
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

By 1850, people in New York City were beginning to feel the compounding stress of living in such a heavily urban environment. Ken Burns explains in his documentary New York that the early grid system which had defined the city's layout had failed "to provide enough park space for New York's overcrowded and overworked citizens. Half a century of explosive growth had transformed much of lower Manhattan into a congested wasteland of factories, warehouses, and tenements. For most New Yorkers, there was simply no escape." A few years later, 843 acres of land in the middle of Manhattan would be transformed into an urban oasis: Central Park.

Around this same time, Henry David Thoreau emerged from the woods after living by himself for over two years, and recounted, "Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of wildness." Thoreau understood there was something invigorating about being in nature, as did people like John Muir, who eventually founded the Sierra Club. For Muir, "in God's wildness lies the hope of the world — the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware." Decades later, following in Muir's footsteps, Sigurd F. Olson would also preach that "wilderness to the people of America is a spiritual necessity, an antidote to the high pressure of modern life, a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium."

The three pieces of music I wrote before writing The Tonic of Wildness had all been very furious, driving, and perhaps even musically congested. While that's exciting sometimes, it was definitely time to regain serenity and equilibrium in my own work. I began my initial research, dreaming up ideas, and quickly discovered the paintings of the Hudson River School painters — like Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church, and even Winslow Homer — who were known for creating vast and majestic American landscapes. Slowly, the music I was writing began to piece itself together like a slideshow from a family road trip — a musical montage — each theme moving through different scenery from one picturesque lookout point to the next. Above all, I think this piece is a celebration of the restorative power of nature, and of places like Ithaca, where there is certainly no shortage of natural beauty.

The Tonic of Wildness was commissioned by the bands of Ithaca High School in honor of the 100th Anniversary of The Ithaca High School Band and made possible by the generosity of the Fine Arts Booster Group, The Ithaca Public Education Initiative, The Ithaca High School Class of 1961, and The Ithaca City School District. It was premiered on June 7, 2017, in Ithaca, New York, with the Ithaca High School bands conducted by Nicki Zawel.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Cleveland (Ohio) State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Trevor Marcho, conductor) – 28 April 2022
  • Wayne (Neb.) State College Wind Ensemble (David Bennett, conductor) - 20 April 2021
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Symphonic Band (Jerry Luckhardt, conductor) – 22 November 2019
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus) Symphonic Band (Scott A. Jones, conductor) – 14 February 2019
  • University of North Georgia (Gainesville) Wind Ensemble (J. Ashley Jarrell, conductor) – 4 December 2018
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Orchestra (Beth Peterson, conductor) – 15 October 2017
  • Ithaca (N.Y.) High School bands (Nicki Zawel, conductor) – 7 June 7 2017 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works