Year: 1778 / 1957
Duration: c. 6:05
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Cost: Score and Parts - $75.00 | Oversize Full Score of Complete Triptych - $65.00 | Score Only (oversized) - $35.00
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 Bass Saxophone
B-flat Cornet (or Trumpet) I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Percussion (4 players), including:
- Bass Drum
- Crash Cymbals
- Snare Drum
- Suspended Cymbal
- Piccolo. m.46, beat 2: sixteenth note (F-sharp) should read eighth note
- Oboe II, m.148, beat 1: add duration dot to E-flat quarter note
- Oboe II, m.148, beat 2: B-flat quarter note should read B-flat eighth note
- Clarinet I, m.100, beat 1: G-sharp should read G (natural)
- Clarinet II, m.75, beat 2: C natural should read C-sharp
- Clarinet II, m.170 + 5: rehearsal figure “175” should be here, not two bars later
- Clarinet II, m.206, beat 1: quarter rest should read eighth rest
- Clarinet III, m.82, beat 1: quarter rest should read eighth rest [corrected in Presser printing]
- Clarinet III, m.221, beat 1: B should read C
- Cornet I, m.101, beat 2&: delete last eighth rest
- Cornet III, m.18, beat 4: delete breath mark
- Cornet III, m.84, beat 1: quarter rest should read eighth rest
- Cornet III, m.207, beat 2&: E natural should read E-flat
- Horn in F I, m.167, beat 3: A should read B
- Percussion, m.83, beat 2&: this note is for crash cymbals. The snare drum enters in m.84, beat 1.
The tune on which this composition is based was born during the very time of the American Revolution, appearing in 1778 in a book of tunes and anthems composed by William Billings called The Singing Master's Assistant. This book became known as Billings' Best following as it did his first book called The New England Psalm Singer, published in 1770. Chester was so popular that it was sung throughout the colonies from Vermont to South Carolina. It became the song of the American Revolution, sung around the campfires of the Continental Army and played by fifers on the march. The music and words, both composed by Billings, expressed perfectly the burning desire for freedom which sustained the colonists through the difficult years of the Revolution.
Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And Slav'ry clank her galling chains,
We fear them not, we trust in God,
New England's God forever reigns.
The Foe comes on with haughty Stride;
Our troops advance with martial noise,
Their Vet'rans flee before our Youth,
And Gen'rals yield to beardless Boys.
What grateful Off'ring shall we bring?
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud Halleluiahs let us Sing,
And praise his name on ev'ry Chord.
- Program Note by William Schuman
Schuman originally composed Chester as the third movement of his New England Triptych for orchestra, where he interpreted William Billings’s hymn and marching song of the same name. He later developed and extended the work to become an overture for band; however, the work is often performed as the answer to Schuman’s second movement prelude of the Triptych, When Jesus Wept.
- Program Notes by Jennifer Daffinee for the 2016 Texas All-State 5A Symphonic Band concert program, 13 February 2016
- Audio CD: West Chester University Wind Ensemble (Andrew Yozviak, conductor) - 2018
- Audio CD: Cincinnati Wind Symphony (Eugene Corporon, conductor)
- Audio CD: Keystone Wind Ensemble (Jack Stamp, conductor)
- Audio CD: Music for Winds & Percussion Volume I, Northern Illinois University Wind Ensemble (Stephen E. Squires, conductor)
- Arkansas: V
- Florida: V --- (The Florida Bandmasters Association denotes this as "significant literature.")
- New York: VI
- Texas: V
- Virginia: VI
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble (Thomas Gamboa, conductor) - 12 September 2021
- United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Jason K. Fettig, conductor) - 8 July 2021
- University of Delaware (Newark) Wind Ensemble (Anthony McDonnell, conductor) - 7 May 2021
- Pittsburg (Kan.) State University Wind Ensemble (Andrew Chybowski, conductor) - 22 April 2021
- Henderson State University (Arkadelphia, Ark.) Wind Ensemble (Shaun R. Popp, conductor) - 11 April 2021
- Whitworth University (Spokane, Wash.) Wind Symphony (Richard Strauch, conductor) - 14 November 2020
- Luther College (Decorah, Iowa) Concert Band (Cory Near, conductor) - 8 November 2020
- Stuart (Fla.) Community Concert Band (Jim LeBon, conductor) - 27 October 2019
- University of Kentucky (Lexington) Wind Symphony (John Cody Birdwell, conductor) - 23 October 2020
- Arkansas State University (Jonesboro) Wind Ensemble (Shawn Crawford, conductor) - 13 March 2020
- Pima Community College (Tucson, Ariz.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Nelson, conductor) – 12 March 2020
- Ithaca (N.Y.) College Concert Band (Benjamin Rochford, conductor) – 4 March 2020
- Butler University (Indianapolis, Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Michael Colburn, conductor) – 1 March 2020
- Lander University (Greenwood, S.C.) Wind Ensemble (Reed Gallo, conductor) – 27 February 2020
- University of Chicago (Ill.) University Wind Ensemble (Nicholas J. Carlson, conductor) – 23 February 2020
- University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Symphonic Band (Jonathan Caldwell, conductor) – 18 February 2020
- United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (JoAnn Falletta, conductor) – 17 February 2020
- Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Thomas Caneva, conductor) – 6 December 2019
- University of Massachusetts Lowell Wind Ensemble (Daniel Lutz, conductor) – 5 December 2019
Works for Winds by This Composer
- American Hymn (1981)
- Anniversary Fanfare (1969)
- The Band Song (1967)
- Circus Overture (tr. Owen) (1944/1972)
- Dedication Fanfare (1969)
- George Washington Bridge (1950)
- New England Triptych (1956)
- Newsreel in Five Shots
- Prelude for a Great Occasion (1975)
- Variations on "America" (as orchestrator, trans. Rhoads)
- Brown, Michael. (1989). "The band music of William Schuman: A study of form, content and style." Ed.D. dissertation. Athens: University of Georgia. pp. 78-98. Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts International 50(9), 2692-A.
- Brown, Michael. (1993, November). "Conducting Schuman's Chester Overture." The Instrumentalist 48(4) 29ff.
- Magie, Gregory Alden. (1966) “Conducting William Schuman’s New England Triptych.” D.M.A. dissertation. Los Angeles: University of California.
- O'Toole, Anthony. "Score Study Episode #33: Chester Overture (Schuman)." YouTube. Anthony O'Toole, 14 July 2021. Accessed 24 July 2021
- Pearlmutter, Alan, and Jacques Voois. (1987, Spring-Summer). “William Schuman’s ‘New England Triptych’ and the music of William Billings.” Journal of the Conductor’s Guild 8(2 & 3), 48-57.
- Rhodes, Stephen. "A comparative analysis of the band compositions of William Schuman." Dissertation. Greeley: University of Northern Colorado. Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts International (1988, January) 48(7), 1579-A.
- Rhodes, Stephen L. (1989, March-April). "William Schuman: Chester Overture for Band." BDGuide 3, 32–38. Reprinted in Performance Study Guides of Essential Works for Band, edited by Kenneth L. Neidig. Galesville, Md.: Meredith Music Publications, 2009. pp. 64–67.
- Rudgers, Gregory B. La Fiesta Mexicana. MBM Times, Issue 6 (2012), 66.
- William Schuman website