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American Salute

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Morton Gould

Morton Gould (trans. Philip J. Lang)

Subtitle: Based on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home"

General Info

Year: 1943 / 1971
Duration: c. 4:20
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Mills Music (first edition, 1943)
Publisher: Alfred Music Publishing
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $95.00   |   Score Only (print) - $15.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II-III
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
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes (extended high range required (high G5))
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Tam-tam (large)
  • Xylophone


Errata in the 1943 first edition is documented in Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. Volume 2. Compiled and edited by Richard Miles. Chicago: GIA Publications, 1998, pp. 391-407.

Corrections or additions to that list:.

  • 2nd Flute. reh. F + 2 meas., beat 1: add "simile" for continuation of staccato passage.
  • 1st B-flat Clarinet. reh. D + 4 meas., beat 3: 2 eighth rests should read F quarter note tied from the previous note (as in 2 meas. after D).
  • 1st Bassoon. reh. L, beat 1: move "pp" to beat 2.
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone. reh. J, beat 3: C natural should read C sharp (carries through to beat 4).
  • 1st, 2nd, & 3rd B-flat Cornets. reh. J + 3, beat 1: add "Natural" (to cancel "Hand in Bell" instruction at 1 meas. before reh. J).
  • 1st & 2nd B-flat Trumpets. reh. J + 3, beat 1: add "Natural" (to cancel "Hand in Bell" instruction at 1 meas. before reh. J).
  • 3rd & 4th Horns in F. 1 meas. before reh. K: add “4/4” meter signature at the end of the system
  • 2nd Trombone. reh. O + 10, beat 7: D should read E (above staff).

Additional errata for the 1943 edition:

  • 1st Flute. reh. M + 3, beat 2-3: remove dot in staff.
  • 1st Flute. 5 meas. before the end, beat 2-3: remove dot on E space.
  • 1st B-flat Clarinet. 1 meas. before reh. G, beat 1: add "Tutti".
  • 2nd B-flat Clarinet. 3 meas. before reh. G, beat 1: add. "div.".
  • 1st Trombone. reh. M: add "(mute out)".
  • 1st Trombone. reh. M + 4, beat 4: add "Tutti".

Errata for the 1971 edition:

  • 1st Bb Cornet. meas. 123–125, beat 1: dotted half note should read half note
  • 1st Bb Cornet. meas. 123–125, beat 4: quarter note should read half note (on beat 3)
  • 2nd Horn in F. meas. 97, beat 1&: F sharp should read F natural
  • All Horns and Trombones, meas. 142–143: shift beats 1, 2, & 3 to beats 2, 3, & 4
  • All Horns and Trombones, meas. 142–143, beat 1: add a quarter note rest

[Note: These instruments play on beats 2 and 4 while the rest of the ensemble plays on beats 1 and 3.]

Program Notes

Morton Gould's music is unique in its Americanism and in the seemingly endless wealth of creativity displayed by the composer. Like much of his music, this work is semiserious in nature -- a reflection of Gould's uncanny skill in thematic development. Using only When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again for melodic resources, he contrives a brilliant fantasy. Originally written for orchestra (in 24 hours) and later set for band, American Salute has become a favorite for both media.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

Originally written for orchestra, American Salute has become a favorite of the concert band repertoire. Using the familiar tune When Johnny Comes Marching Home as the sole melodic resource, Morton Gould demonstrates his skill in thematic development, creating a brilliant fantasy on a single tune.

Written in 1942 in the early days of World War II, it was composed at the request of a government radio program producer who wanted a “salute to America.” The composer insisted that he had no idea that the work was destined to become a classic: “It was years before I knew it was a classic setting. What amazes me is that critics say it is a minor masterpiece, a gem. To me, it was just a setting. I was doing a million of those things.” A million may be an exaggeration, but not by much. The pace of Gould’s schedule in those days was astounding. By his own account he composed and scored American Salute in less than eight hours, starting at 6 p.m. the evening before it was due (with copyists standing by), and finishing at 2 a.m. Although the ink couldn’t have been dry, the score and parts were on the stand in time for rehearsal the next morning and ready for broadcast that evening.

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band concert program, 24 August 2016

American Salute, written during World War II, is a fine example of both Gould's sophisticated writing and his instinct for achieving broad appeal. This pieces is based on When Johnny Comes Marching Home, originally written during the Civil War by Patrick Gilmore and subsequently securing a strong position within American popular culture. American Salute has become Gould's most popular work. The composer attended a performance of the piece, given by the United States Military Academy Concert Band, on the last evening of his life.

- Program Note from University of Arkansas Wind Symphony concert program, 21 November 2016

Commercial Discography

  • Audio CD: United States Air Force Band - "America" Released January 1, 1999

State Ratings

  • Florida: V
  • Georgia: VI
  • Louisiana: V
  • Maryland: VI
  • Minnesota: Category I
  • New York: V
  • North Carolina: VI
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Texas: V
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Texas Christian University (Fort Worth) Wind Symphony (George Ishii, conductor) – 13 October 2020
  • Mississippi State University (Starkville) Wind Ensemble (Dick Clardy, conductor) – 4 March 2020 (86th Annual ABA National Convention)
  • Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Symphony Band (James Batcheller, conductor) – 27 February 2020
  • University of Northern Colorado (Greeley) Symphonic Band (Wesley J. Broadnax, conductor) – 13 February 2020
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) High School Honor Band (Emily Threinen, conductor) – 26 January 2020
  • Claudia Taylor Johnson High School (San Antonio, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Jarrett Lipman, conductor) – 19 December 2019 (2019 Midwest Clinic)
  • New England Conservatory (Boston) Senior Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble (Michael Mucci, conductor) – 16 December 2019
  • Lynbrook High School (San Jose, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Norman Dea, conductor) – 12 December 2019
  • Lone Star Wind Orchestra (Dallas, Tx.) (Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor) – 10 November 2019
  • Ohio University (Athens) Wind Symphony (William Talley, conductor) – 3 November 2019
  • Stuart (Fla.) Community Concert Band (Jim LeBon, conductor) – 27 October 2019
  • Atlanta (Ga.) Wind Symphony (David Kehler, conductor) – 13 October 2019
  • Oak Ridge (Tenn.) Community Band (Shaun Salem, conductor) – 6 October 2019
  • Woodinville Community Band (Redmond, Wash.) (John Werth, conductor) – 19 May 2019
  • Gainesville (Fla.) Pops (Gary Langford, conductor) – 18 May 2019
  • Cottey Wind Ensemble (Nevada, Mo.) (Jackie Lordo, conductor) – 27 April 2019
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Symphonic Band (Dennis W. Fisher, conductor) – 5 February 2019
  • Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.) Symphony Band (Donald Peach, conductor) – 29 November 2018
  • Oak Ridge (Tenn.) Community Band/Wind Ensemble (Shaun Salem, conductor) – 18 November 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer