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Cotswold Symphony, A

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Derek Bourgeois

Derek Bourgeois (trans. by composer)

This work is also known as the composer's Symphony No. 6. It bears the designation Opus 109b.

General Info

Year: 1988 / 2000
Duration: c. 32:00
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: HAFABRA Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - €450.00   |   Score Only (print) - €90.00

Movements (played without pause)

1. Pastoral: Dawn: Mists Rise Over the Vale of Gloucester
2. Maypole
3. The Iron March of Rome
4. Church Bells: "As sure as God's in Gloucestershire"
5. The Old City: Gloucester
6. Epilogue: Pastoral


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II (II doubling English Horn)
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV

  • Bass Drum
  • Bell Tree
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Crotales
  • Glockenspiel (extended high range required (high D))
  • Mark Tree
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-tam
  • Tambourine
  • Temple Blocks (4)
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

My Cotswold Symphony was originally an orchestral work commissioned by the Stroud Festival, in the heart of the Gloucestershire range of hills called the Cotswolds. The genesis of the symphony came when Maurice Broadbent, one of the Festival directors, took me up to the top of a hill near Stroud that overlooked the Severn Estuary, and, in the far distance, the city of Gloucester. It was a misty early Autumn day, and the whole scene was so evocative that the germ of a sound came into my head whilst I was staring at the magnificent view. I had already discussed with Maurice a general idea for the shaping of the symphony, but I knew at this moment that this was where the symphony should begin.

The symphony plays continuously, but falls broadly into six sections:

1. Pastoral: Dawn: Mists Rise Over The Vale Of Gloucester. Out of barely distinguishable shimmering sounds, a dawn chorus emerges which in turn gives way to a big tune, tentative at first, in the unequivocal key of D major, a key which, for me, has always implied things green and pastoral. This short prelude will return from time to time in different guises and eventually provide the apotheosis of the work.

2. Maypole. The title speaks for itself. This is a swirling dance, which via a rustic central episode builds up to a big climax in C major with the main dance tune in augmentation. The jollity suddenly turns sour and we are hurled into:

3. The Iron March of Rome. There is nothing pastoral about this slow movement. It represents the inexorable advance of the Roman Empire across the countryside. An angular march tune builds relentlessly, growing ever louder, accompanied by long pedal points. The music is powerful, yet brutal. At the end a gradual accelerando leads us into the next section, still loud, but representing an entirely different mood.

4. Church Bell: 'As sure as God's in Gloucestershire.' A quotation from Ivor Gurney, the Cotswolds' most celebrated poet, heralds this short and transitory movement. A grand tintinabulation from bells, glockenspiel and piano accompanies a noble theme in triple time, a reminder that the origins of the Dick Whittington legend lie here. As this subsides we are led gently back to the theme that started the symphony, but this time quiet and serene. A short pause leads us into:

5. The Old City: Gloucestershire. This movement is complex, yet basically jaunty, and happy, building gradually into a march, but this time one far more characteristic of the English tradition. The word nobilmente (not a real Italian word, but one invented by Elgar) may spring to mind as the march unfolds. The movement is not so much a literal portrayal of Gurney's words, but a capturing of the emotion they engendered in me. As the march subsides we move back into the material from the very beginning of the symphony.

6. Epilogue: Pastoral. The original tune reappears, and this time builds to a big and indulgent climax. At the very end there is a reference to the Iron March of Rome, but now in a glorious and unambiguous D major.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • Serenade (Flex instrumentation) (adapt. Brand) (1965/1980/2020)

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