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Armenian Dances, Part One

From Wind Repertory Project
Alfred Reed

Alfred Reed

General Info

Year: 1972
Duration: c. 11:10
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Alfred Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $85.00   |   Score Only - $15.00


C Piccolo (doubles Flute III)
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
Contrabassoon (optional)
Eb Soprano Clarinet
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Bb Contrabass Clarinet
Eb Alto Saxophone I-II
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Bass Saxophone (optional)
Bb Trumpet I-II-III
Bb Cornet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbals (crash and suspended)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


  • 2nd Bassoon. meas. 23, beat 2&: sixteenth rest should read eighth rest + dotted eighth rest
  • 2nd Horn in F. meas. 317: add rehearsal mark "317"
  • 2nd Horn in F. meas. 318: delete printed rehearsal mark "317"
  • 4th Horn in F. meas. 7, beat 4: eighth rest should read quarter rest

Program Notes

The Armenian Dances, Parts I and II, constitute a four-movement suite for concert band or wind ensemble based on authentic Armenian folk songs from the collected works of Gomidas Vartabed (1869-1935), the founder of Armenian classical music.

Part I, containing the first movement of this suite (the remaining three movements constituting Part II), is an extended symphonic rhapsody built upon five different songs, freely treated and developed in terms of the modern, integrated concert band or wind ensemble. While the composer has kept his treatment of the melodies within the general limits imposed on the music by its very nature, he has not hesitated to expand the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic possibilities in keeping with the demands of a symphonic-instrumental, as opposed to an individual vocal or choral, approach to its performance. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the overall effect of the music will be found to remain true in spirit to the work if this brilliant composer-musicologist, who almost single-handedly preserved and gave to the world a treasure trove of beautiful folk music that to this day has not yet become as widely known in the Western world as it so richly deserves. Hopefully, this new instrumental setting will prove to be at least a small step in this direction.

Part I of the Armenian Dances was completed in the summer of 1972 and first performed by Dr. Harry Begian, (to whom the work is dedicated), and the University of Illinois Symphonic Band, on January 10, 1973, at the C.B.D.N.A. Convention in Urbana, Illinois.

Gomidas Vartabed (1869-1935), the founder of Armenian classical music, is credited with collecting well over four thousand Armenian folk songs. Born Soghomon Soghomonian in Keotahya, a small town in Anatolia, Turkey, he would later be given the name Gomidas. His exceptional lyric voice led the prelate of the region to select the orphan Soghomon, at the age of eleven, to study at the Kevorkian Seminary in Etchmiadzin, Armenia. He was ordained an Apegha (monk) in 1895, at which time he assumed the name Gomidas, after the Armenian architect-musician Catholicos Gomidas. His desire for further musical training led him first to studies with Magar Yekmalian in Tiflis, Georgia, and from 1896-1899 to Berlin, where he studied at the Richard Schmidt Conservatory, as well as Frederic Wilhelm University, under eminent musicians of the time. In 1899 he graduated from both the Conservatory and the University, receiving his Ph.D. in musicology; his dissertation topic was Kurdish Music.

Gomidas was a founding member of the International Music Society (1899-1912), for which he read important papers on Armenian neumatic notation, the structure of Armenian sacred melodies and folk melodies. At the age of forty-six, at the apex of his career, Gomidas was exiled, together with other Armenian intellectuals, by the Turks, in April, 1915, at which time the genocide of one and a half million Armenians took place. He was released within a short time, but the sufferings and atrocities which he had witnessed resulted in a complete mental and physical breakdown from which he never recovered. He died in Paris in 1935. His legacy to the Armenian people, and to the world's ethnic music, is invaluable, and his major contribution lies in preserving so many centuries-old melodies from obscurity, or oblivion.

Part I of the Armenian Dances is built upon five Armenian folk songs which were first notated, purified, researched and later arranged by Gomidas for solo voice with piano accompaniment, or unaccompanied chorus. In order of their appearance in the score, they are : Tzirani Tzar (The Apricot Tree); Gakavi Yerk (Partridge's Song); Hoy, Nazan Eem (Hoy, My Nazan); Alagyaz and Gna, Gna (Go, Go).

The Apricot Tree consists of three organically connected songs which were transcribed in 1904. Its declamatory beginning, rhythmic vitality and ornamentation make this a highly expressive song.

The Partridge's Song is an original song by Gomidas; it was published in 1908 in Tiflis, Georgia. He originally arranged it for solo voice and children's choir, and later for solo voice with piano accompaniment. It has a simple, delicate melody which might, perhaps, be thought of as depicting the tiny steps of the partridge.

Hoy, Nazan Eem was published in 1908, in a choral version arranged by Gomidas. This lively, lyric love song depicts a young man singing the praises of his beloved Nazan (a girl's name). The song has dance rhythms and ornamentation which make it an impressive, catchy tune.

Alagyaz (name of a mountain in Armenia), was first written by Gomidas for solo voice with piano accompaniment, and also in a choral arrangement. It is a beloved Armenian folk song, and it long-breathed melody is as majestic as the mountain itself.

Go, Go is a humorous, light-textured tune. In performance, Gomidas coupled it with a contrasting slower song, The Jug. Its repeated note pattern musically depicts the expression of laughter. This song also is in recitative style.

- Program Note by Violet Vagramian, Florida International University

Commercial Discography

Audio Links

State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Arkansas: V
  • Florida: VI
  • Georgia: VI
  • Iowa: V
  • Kansas: VI
  • Louisiana: V
  • Maryland: VI
  • Massachusetts: V
  • Michigan: Senior High AA
  • Minnesota: I
  • Mississippi: VI-A
  • New York: Concert Band VI
  • North Carolina: VI
  • Oklahoma: V-A
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Tennessee: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete
  • Virginia: VI
  • Wisconsin: Event 3000 Concert Band Class A Standard Repertoire


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Golden Gate Park Band (San Francisco, Calif.) (Robert Calonico, conductor) – 12 May 2019
  • Clovis (Calif.) East High School Wind Ensemble (Marco Mellone, conductor) – 12 April 2019 (2019 San Joaquin Valley (Calif.) Concert Band Invitational)
  • Clovis (Calif.) East High School Wind Ensemble (Marco Mellone, conductor) -15 March 2019 (2019 Sutherland Wind Festival (Fresno, Calif.)
  • Wartburg College (Waverly, Iowa) Wind Ensemble (Craig A. Hancock, conductor) – 3 February 2019
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Concert Band (Ryan S. Smith, conductor) – 3 December 2018
  • Grafton (Va.) High School Band (Darren Kirsch, conductor) – 3 December 2018
  • St. Norbert Community Band (De Pere, Wisc.) (Philip Klickman, conductor) – 12 November 2018
  • Mount St. Mary University (Emmitsburg, Md.) Wind Ensemble (Anne H. Tortora, conductor) – 3 November 2018
  • Portland (Ore.) Wind Symphony (Chris Chapman, conductor) – 29 October 2018
  • Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (John Campbell, conductor) - 16 October 2018
  • California State University, Northridge, Wind Ensemble (Lawrence Stoffel, conductor) – 11 October 2018
  • Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.) Peabody Wind Ensemble (Harland D. Parker, conductor) – 29 September 2018
  • University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) Summer Band (Barry Houser, conductor) - 21 June 2018
  • Wheaton North High School Wind Ensemble (Kent Krause, conductor) - 10 May 2018
  • Olmsted Falls (Ohio) High School Wind Symphony (Julie Budd, conductor) – 4 May 2018
  • Boardman High School (Youngstown, O.) Wind Ensemble (Thomas Ruggieri, conductor) - 1 March 2018
  • California State University Long Beach Bob Cole Conservatory Wind Symphony (John Alan Carnahan, conductor) – 23 March 2018 (CBDNA 2018 Western/Northwestern Conference, Rohnert Park, Calif.)
  • Drexel University (Philadelphia, Penn.) Concert Band (Wesley J. Broadnax, conductor) – 19 March 2018
  • Tualatin Valley Community Band (Tigard Ore.) (Kevin Soon, conductor) – 18 March 2018
  • Ithaca (N.Y.) College Wind Symphony (Benjamin Rochford, conductor) – 7 March 2018
  • Lone Star Wind Orchestra (Dallas, Tex.) (Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor) – 4 March 2018

Works for Winds by this Composer


  • Begian, Harry. (1985). "Alfred Reed's Armenian Dances (Part I): A Rehearsal Analysis." The Instrumentalist 40, no. 3 (October 1985): 27-30-32, 34.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 803-811.
  • Pease, Andy. "Armenian Dances Part I by Alfred Reed." Wind Band Literature. Web. Accessed 17 September 2018
  • Reed, A. [1974]. Armenian Dances Part I: For Concert Band or Wind Ensemble [score]. S. Fox Pub.Co.: New York.
  • Waltman, David. (2003). "Alfred Reed." In: A Composer's Insight, Volume 1. Galesville, Md.: Meredith Music Publications. pp. 119-130.