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Concerto Macabre

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Bernard Herrmann

Bernard Herrmann (trans. James Worman)

General Info

Year: 1944 / 1973 / 2019
Duration: c. 11:30
Difficulty: VII (solo), V (ensemble) (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Symphony
Publisher: Pending
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


Full Score
Solo Piano
C Piccolo
Flute I (doubles Alto Flute)
Flute II-III
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet (+ Flugelhorn) I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Field Drum
  • Gong, medium
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam, large
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The music comes from the movie Hangover Square, released in 1945. The concerto functions as the centerpiece of the entire movie, as George Harvey Bone, a promising composer in early 20th century London, is under stress to complete his magnum opus, a piano concerto. Due to this stress, Bone experiences blackouts seemingly brought on when he hears dissonances. He then finds himself, after the blackout, in a different quarter of the town, only to read in the paper the next day that someone in that locale was murdered. Seeking assistance from a doctor at Scotland Yard, he is assured, at first, that he has nothing to do with the murders, and is advised to simply reduce his work regimen and find relaxation like other, ordinary, people. But the blackouts (and murders) persist and in the climactic scene, Bone is confronted by both the police and the doctor from Scotland Yard at the concert venue -- a fight ensues, all while his concerto is being performed. Being Edwardian London, lighting is furnished by gas lamps, and in the physical altercation the lamps are thrown and knocked over and a fire engulfs the building. As the orchestra and audience flee the inferno, Bone sits down at the piano and finishes playing the concerto as the fire consumes the building and himself.

In 1973 Bernard Herrmann revised the music used in the film by expanding the development section and bridging the thematic material as a standalone composition. The music captures the film-noire essence with brooding darkness, melodramatic sweeping melodic lines, and musical sonorities suggesting sinister and maniacal psychosis. One unique element of the concerto is that the final two minutes are performed by piano only, just as in the finale of the movie.

This transcription retains the original piano writing in its entirety, the original keys, and most of the composer’s wind scoring, including all solo lines. The only changes were made to account for displaced lines when string transcriptions superseded pre-existing woodwind lines. Great care has been taken to transcribe the string writing, retaining the original emotional and textural effects in the context of contemporary wind and percussion sonorities.

- Program Note by transcriber


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Trinity University (San Antonio, Tx.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (James Worman, conductor) - 3 November 2019 *Wind Ensemble Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer