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Ballad for Band (Gould)

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Morton Gould

Morton Gould

General Info

Year: 1946
Duration: c. 8:40
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: G. Schirmer
Cost: Score and Parts - $90.00   |   Score Only - $11.50


Full Score
C Piccolo
Db Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn Bassoon I-II
Eb Soprano Clarinet
Solo Bb Clarinet I
Bb Soprano Clarinet II-III
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Alto Saxophone I-II
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Bass Saxophone
Flugel Horn (in Bb) I-II
Bb Trumpet I-II
Solo Bb Cornet
Bb Cornet I-II-III
Horn in Eb I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Baritone TC
Euphonium (BC)
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbals (crash)
  • Melodic Percussion (Bells and chimes)
  • 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

Commercial Discography

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

  • 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
  • Baylor University (Waco, Texas) Wind Ensemble (Richard Floyd, conductor) – 27 April 2019
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony (Kevin Michael Holzman, conductor) – 27 April 2019
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Concert Band (Jason H. Nam, conductor) – 6 April 2019
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony (Kevin Michael Holzman, conductor) – 29 March 2019
  • Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Thomas Caneva, conductor) – 22 March 2019
  • University of Texas (Austin) Symphony Band (Tiffany Galus, conductor) – 27 February 2019
  • Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.) Symphony Band (Kevin Gray Richardson, conductor) – 24 February 2019
  • University of Wisconsin-Parkside Wind Ensemble (Laura Rexroth, conductor) – 6 December 2018
  • Truman State University (Kirksville, Mo.) Wind Symphony I (Kyle Rieger, conductor) – 14 November 2018
  • North Dakota State University (Fargo) Wind Symphony (Matthew Winarski, conductor) – 14 October 2018
  • California State University, Long Beach, Symphonic Band (Jermie Arnold, conductor) – 11 October 2018
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Symphony (Stephen G. Peterson, conductor) – 7 April 2018
  • 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]