Ballad for Band (Gould)

From Wind Repertory Project
Morton Gould

Morton Gould

General Info

Year: 1946
Duration: c. 8:35
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: G. Schirmer
Cost: Score and Parts - $90.00   |   Score Only - $11.50


Full Score
C Piccolo
D-flat Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
Solo B-flat Clarinet I
B-flat Soprano Clarinet 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 Bass Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Flugelhorn I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in E-flat I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Tambourine
  • Woodblock


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The work very successfully captures the spirit of popular music of that era [1946], as well as dance forms and jazz. Lush harmonies and chord structures are on display, as well as thematic interplay between sections of the ensemble. The Ballad is one of the most beloved and most often performed of the band's literature of the mid-twentieth century.

- Program notes from San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra concert program, 14 May 2011

In 1946 Morton Gould somehow found a few minutes to satisfy a request from conductor Edwin Franko Goldman to write a piece for his renowned Goldman Band. The result was the reflective and sensitively scored Ballad for Band, a work inspired by African-American spirituals. In an interview with Dr. Thomas Stone, Gould offered insight on how the spiritual influenced this music:

I have always been sensitive to, and stimulated by, the sounds that I would call our “American vernacular” -- jazz, ragtime, gospel, spirituals, hillbilly. The spirituals have always been the essence, in many ways, of our musical art, our musical spirit. The spiritual is an emotional, rhythmic expression. The spiritual has a universal feeling; it comes from the soul, from the gut. People all over the world react to them ... I am not aware of the first time I heard them. It was undoubtedly a sound I heard as a child; maybe at a revival.

Morton Gould offers the following additional commentary: ”Ballad for Band is basically an introverted piece that starts slowly, is linear, and has a quiet lyricism; it is not big band in the sense that there is little razzle-dazzle. A discerning listener who is programmed to appreciate the nuances and subtlety of a contemporary piece would respond favorably to this, but others merely find it from relatively pleasant to slightly boring. Only certain listeners respond to what this piece represents musically.”

It also captures the spirit of popular music and dance forms.The beauty of the melody can hide the complexities of theme exchanges within the sections of the band. Antecedent-consequent phrases play off each other and build tension. Accents, syncopation, and lively rhythmic patterns complement the lush harmonies of the chord structures.

- Program Note by composer and the United States Marine Band

Ballad for Band is perhaps the earliest example of an original masterwork for band by an American composer (excluding the multitude of superb marches composed by Sousa, King, Fillmore, et al.). Although it contains no direct quotes from existing spiritual melodies, Ballad expresses what Gould called “the Negro folklore idiom” –- it is the idea of the spiritual rather than the spiritual itself.

- Program Note excerpted from the University of Nebraska Wind Ensemble concert program, 28 February 2016


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class A
  • California: IV-B
  • Florida: VI
  • Georgia: V
  • Louisiana: IV
  • Massachusetts: IV
  • Mississippi: IVA, VA and VA
  • North Carolina: V
  • Oklahoma: IVA
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Tennessee: VI
  • Texas: IV. Complete
  • Virginia: V


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Osaka (Japan) Shion Wind Orchestra (Kevin Sedatole, conductor) - 21 December 2023 (2023 Midwest Clinic)
  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Band (Robert Hickey, conductor) - 4 October 2023
  • San Luis Obispo (Calif.) Wind Orchestra (Jennifer Martin, conductor) – 30 April 2023
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Mark Scatterday, conductor) - 25 January 2023
  • Las Vegas (Nev.) Academy of the Arts Wind Ensemble (John Seaton, conductor) - 19 December 2022 (2022 Midwest Clinic)
  • Washington University in St, Louis (Mo.) Wind Ensemble (Chris Becker, conductor) - 17 November 2022
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington) Symphony Band (Patrick Forrester, conductor) - 17 October 2022
  • University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Wind Symphony (John P. Lynch, conductor) - 6 October 2022
  • University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg) Wind Ensemble (Kyle Aufderhar, conductor) - 15 November 2021
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) Wind Ensemble (Paul Popiel, conductor) -16 April 2021
  • University of Oklahoma (Norman) Symphony Band (Michael E. Hancock, conductor) – 28 February 2020
  • University of Colorado Boulder Symphonic Band (Matthew Dockendorf, conductor) – 20 November 2019
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Symphonic Band (Marykatheryne E. Kuhne, conductor) – 20 November 2019
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington) Symphony Band (Michael Hudson, conductor) – 17 November 2019
  • Kennesaw (Ga.) State University University Band (Joseph Scheivert, conductor) – 7 October 2019
  • Butler University (Indianapolis, Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Michael Colburn, conductor) – 6 October 2019
  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Wind Symphony (Allison Satterwhited, conductor) – 3 October 2019
  • High School Symphonic Band [Interlochen, Mich.] (Frederick Fennell, conductor) - 14 August 2004
  • Eastman Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Frederick Fennell, conductor) – 17 December 1954

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Miles, Richard B. 2000. Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. Volume 3. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 396-303.
  • [ Morton Gould website]