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Canzona (Mennin)

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Peter Mennin

Peter Mennin (ed. Justin Tokke)

General Info

Year: 1951 / 2020
Duration: c. 4:55
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Carl Fischer, Inc.
Cost: Score and Parts - $90.00   |   Score Only - $20.00


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

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal


  • Full score: pages 12, 13, 14 & 15: The lines labeled "Bar." and Bs" are actually the trombone lines, and the lines labeled "Trom" are actually the Baritone and Bass (Tuba) lines. The lines occur in the correct staff score order on these pages - they were just mislabeled Bar. and Bs. above the two trombone lines.
  • Score and Trombone II: m. 52, beat 4, the first eighth note should be a G♭, not a G♮ as printed (should match B. Cl, Bsn, Bs, St. B, etc.)
  • Euphonium: m. 45, bottom line. B natural should be B-flat

Program Notes

Canzona is a short, brisk work, which opens with a declamatory idea expressed in massed sonorities. Next, a broad melodic line is introduced and supported by powerful rhythmic figurations. This is followed by a cantabile section. These materials are developed and expanded, and the piece closes with the opening statements brought back in a more dramatic presentation.

Canzona was commissioned by Edwin Franko Goldman through The League of Composers, and was premiered by the Eastman Wind Ensemble, Frederick Fennell conducting, in New York on 15 June 1951.

- Program Note by Peter Mennin

Peter Mennin had a free-spirited approach that fell into no particular school of compositional style. In fact, he disliked the idea of compositional schools and held strong opinions about the compositional process. It was unthinkable for him to write in a style interchangeable with that of another composer. Mennin firmly believed that a composition should state something personal and that it must come from within. He said, “A composer can’t rely on outside stimuli. I would continue to be a composer whether I were here or in Timbuktu.” Mennin's craft was directed toward achieving a dramatic whole. He was adept at his use of motives and their exposition, and did not try to fit his ideas into anything resembling sonata form. His melodies are exceedingly long with no particular antecedent-consequent phrase structure and no strong dependence on the bar line. His sense of harmony restores select triads to important levels of power and gives them contemporary significance by such means as added notes, bitonality, and a kind of inflection unknown in the 19th century. Canzona is the only piece that Mennin wrote for band.

- Program note by New Trier High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble concert program, 20 December 2012

Mennin composed his Canzona in 1951 as a part of the continuing series of commissions from Edwin Franko Goldman, in cooperation with the New York League of Composers and it was premiered the same year by the famed Goldman Band.

The concept of the canzona as set forth here is not that of lyrical song implied by the name, but rather that of the early Baroque canzona by Gabrieli in the late 16th century in Venice. Using the reeds and brasses of the band, Mennin has created a stunning essay of contrasting sonorities in a 20th-century manner.

- Program Note from Lee University Wind Ensemble concert program, 23 November 2015

Canzona was commissioned in 1950 by prestigious band director Edwin Franko Goldman. Goldman believed that the future of the concert band required the development of a significant repertoire from contemporary composers. At the time the work was commissioned, many composers felt that they could not advance their careers by writing for concert band. It is not clear if this was a sentiment shared by Peter Mennin, as Canzona is the only work that he composed for concert band.

Mennin chose the title in homage to the late Renaissance instrumental forms of that name. Canzoni were particularly popular with Giovanni Gabrieli, who used the acoustics of the Cathedral of St. Mark in Venice to provide contrasting, antiphonal statements from opposing brass voices. Mennin has introduced that same polyphony into his composition and combined it with modern harmony and structure. Woodwinds and brass alternately reinforce and complement each other. Even during the solo passages, the tempo marking of Allegro Deciso underscores the powerful rhythms and themes.

- Program Note from Kennesaw State University Concert Band concert program, 19 April 2016

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Arkansas: V
  • Florida: V
  • Georgia: VI
  • Iowa: V
  • Kansas: V
  • Louisiana: V
  • Maryland: VI
  • Massachusetts: IV
  • 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


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Wind Ensemble (Glenn Hayes, conductor) - 25 November 2020
  • Dordt University (Sioux Center, Iowa) Wind Symphony (Onsby C. Rose, conductor) - 21 November 2020
  • Pacific Lutheran University (Parkland, Wash.) Wind Ensemble (Edwin Powell, conductor) – 15 March 2020
  • West Chester University (Penn.) Wind Symphony (M. Gregory Martin, conductor) – 1 March 2020
  • Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Symphony Band (James Batcheller, conductor) – 27 February 2020
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Symphonic Band (John Watkins Jr., conductor) – 27 February 2020
  • West Chester (Penn.) University Wind Symphony (Gregory Martin, conductor) – 21 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 Eastern Division Conference, Philadelphia, Penn.)
  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Band (Dennis Glocke, conductor) – 12 December 2019
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Hindsley Symphonic Band (Anthony Messina, conductor) – 6 December 2019
  • West Chester University (Penn.) Wind Symphony (M. Gregory Martin, conductor) – 4 December 2019
  • University of Tennessee (Knoxville) Wind Ensemble (Terrence Leve, conductor) – 19 November 2019
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla) Symphonic Band (Kyle Wernke, conductor) – 10 November 2019
  • Ithaca (N.Y.) College Concert Band (Benjamin Rochford, conductor) – 14 October 2019
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Ensemble (Daniel Cook, conductor) – 8 October 2019
  • George Mason University (Fairfax, Va.) Wind Symphony (Mark Camphouse, conductor) – 8 October 2019
  • University of Miami (Fla.) Frost Symphonic Winds (J. Steven Moore, conductor) – 3 October 2019
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) ( Bryan P. Sherlock, conductor) - 1 August 2019
  • San Luis Obispo (Calif.) Wind Orchestra (Jennifer Martin, conductor) – June 2, 2019
  • High School Symphonic Band [Interlochen, Mich.] (Frederick Fennell, conductor) - 15 August 1998

Works for Winds by this Composer

(This is the only work for winds by this composer)


  • Art of the States Website
  • Hunsberger, Donald. (1980) “Score study and preparation.” Pts. 1 and 2. The Instrumentalist 35 (August 1980): 17-25; 35 (September 1980): 34-39.
  • Kopetz, Barry. (1989) “Peter Mennin’s Canzona: An interpretive analysis.” The Instrumentalist 43/6 (January 1989): 17-22.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 601-614.
  • "New Music Reviews." The Instrumentalist, 75/1 (August/September 2020), p. 25.