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Variants on a Medieval Tune

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Norman Dello Joio

Norman Dello Joio

General Info

Year: 1963
Duration: c. 11:20
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Edward B. Marks Music
Cost: Score & Parts - $75.00  |  Score Only - $7.50


1. Introduction and Theme - 1:20
2. Variation I, Allegro deciso - 1:10
3. Variation II, Lento, pesante - 2:20
4. Variation III - 1:40
5. Variation IV, Andante - 2:30
6. Variation V, Allegro giocoso - 2:00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat 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
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tubular Bells
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Strong high school bands and university ensembles frequently perform Norman Dello Joio's Variants on a Mediaeval Tune. This is a superb piece for teaching cantabile style to younger musicians. The closing is a joyous culmination of the thematic variations and would function well as a concert finale. Audiences will find familiarity in the primary melody and will appreciate the journey of its many transformations.

- Program Note from Great Music for Wind Band

In dulci jubilo is a melody which has been used by many composers, among them Johann Sebastian Bach, as the subject for a variety of musical works. Norman Dello Joio was inspired by it to compose a set of variations. They consist of a brief introduction, the theme, and five “variants” which send the mediaeval melody through five true metamorphoses, strongly contrasting in tempo and character, and utilizing the possibilities of the band to the highest degree.

Norman Dello Joio not only ranks high as an outstanding symphonic composer but is also keenly interested in music for the schools. He has written a number of choral works that are regularly performed by high school and college choral groups. This, however, is his first original work in the band medium.

Variants on a Mediaeval Tune was commissioned by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation for the Duke University Band, Paul Bryan, conductor. It was first performed on April 10, 1963.

- Program Note from score

The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation commissioned Dello Joio’s first wind band piece, Variants on a Medieval Tune. Written for the Duke University Wind Ensemble and Paul Bryan, its conductor, the work received its premiere performance on 10 April 1963. The medieval tune is In dulci jubilo, an early 14th century work attributed to Heinrich Seuse, a German mystic who, according to legend, heard angels singing this tune and joined them in a dance of worship. Norman Dello Joio’s set of variations begins with a brief introduction, the theme, and then five variants contrasting in tempo and character. These metamorphoses utilize the sonic possibilities of the wind band to the highest degree.

- Program Note by Potsdam University Crane School of Music


State Ratings

  • Alabama: AA
  • Arkansas: V
  • Florida: VI
  • Georgia: VI
  • Indiana: ISSMA Senior Band Group I
  • Iowa: V
  • Kansas: V
  • Louisiana: V
  • Massachusetts: V
  • Maryland: VI
  • Michigan: MHAA
  • Minnesota: Category I
  • New York: VI
  • North Carolina: VI
  • New York: VI
  • Oklahoma: V
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Tennessee: VI
  • Texas: V
  • Virginia: VI
  • Wisconsin: Concert Band Class A
  • MusicFest Canada: B600


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Wind Orchestra (Nicholas P. Waldron, conductor) – 20 May 2023
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Concert Band (Jason H. Nam, conductor) – 4 April 2023
  • The All-America Concert Band (Sioux City, Ia.) (Martin I. Gaines, conductor) - 11 December 2022
  • University of Rhode Island (Kingston) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Brian Cardany, conductor) - 9 December 2022
  • University of Oklahoma (Norman) Symphony Band (Lauren Gates, conductor) - 21 April 2022
  • University of Toronto (Ont., Can.) Wind Symphony (Jeffrey Reynolds, conductor) - 7 April 2022
  • National Concert Band of America (Washington, D.C.) (Adrian Holton, conductor) - 5 December 2021
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Symphonic Band (Jerry Luckhardt, conductor) – 2 December 2021
  • Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Wind Symphony (Ruben Dario Gomez, conductor) - 4 June 2021
  • University of Missouri (Columbia) Wind Ensemble (Brian Silvey, conductor) – 20 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 Southwestern Division Conference, Norman, Okla.)
  • Hoover (Ala.) High School Symphonic Winds (Ryan Fitzpatrick, conductor) – 20 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 Southern Division Conference, Natchitoches, La.)
  • Angelo State University (San Angelo, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Jonathan Alvis, conductor) – 6 December 2019
  • Bowling Green (Ohio) State University Concert Band (Bruce Moss, conductor) – 25 November 2019
  • State University of New York, Potsdam, Symphonic Band (Brian K. Doyle, conductor) – 21 November 2019
  • Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Corey Seapy, conductor) – 13 October 2019
  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Band (Dennis Glocke, conductor) – 25 April 2019
  • University of Evansville (Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Kenneth Steinsultz, conductor) - 16 April 2019
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Concert Band (Jochen McEvoy, conductor) – 20 February 2019
  • High School Symphonic Band [Interlochen, Mich.] (Frederick Fennell, conductor) - 7 August 1993

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Crane Symphonic Band Program Notes, March 1, 2012
  • Johnson, Charles E. (1969). “Common musical idioms in selected contemporary wind-band music.” Ed.D. dissertation. Tallahassee: Florida State University. Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts International 30 (1970): 5471A.
  • Kopetz, Barry. (1989, November). “Norman Dello Joio’s Variants on a Mediaeval Tune.” The Instrumentalist 44(4), 21-22, 24, 27-28, 88
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 761-770.
  • 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 32-33.