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Courtly Dances, The

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Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten (arr. Jan Bach)


Subtitle: From Gloriana, op. 53


General Info

Year: 1953 / 1995
Duration: c. 9:50
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts - $104.00   |   Score Only - $10.50


Movements

1. March - 0:45
2. Coranto - 1:15
3. Pavane - 2:35
4. Morris Dance - 1:10
5. Galliard - 1:50
6. Lavolta - 1:20
7. March - 0:38


Instrumentation

Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II (II doubling English Horn)
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
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
Cornets I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium I-II
Tuba I-II
String Bass
Harp
Timpani
Percussion (5 players), including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Small Drum
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tenor Drum
  • Triangle


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Gloriana was commissioned by The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Cast in three acts, the plot concerns the later years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and her relationship with Robert Deveraux, the Earl of Essex. Britten began work on the opera in 1952, and completed it by March 1953. The Courtly Dances are drawn from several places in the opera, primarily from Act 2.

- Program Note from Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music


Among the characteristic features of many of Britten’s compositions is the combining of “old and new” and, in his operatic works, the use of orchestral interludes which not only serve to link the dramatic action but also function well as independent orchestral pieces. The Courtly Dances from Gloriana are one such example.

Gloriana was commissioned by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The opera is in three acts, and the text by William Plomer, based upon Elizabeth and Essex (1928) by Lytton Strachey. It was dedicated “by gracious permission to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in honour of whose coronation it was composed” and was premiered at Covent Garden on June 8, 1953.

The Courtly Dances are drawn from throughout the opera, primarily Act II. Author Arnold Whittall wrote: “Britten’s imaginative use of allusions to Elizabethan dances and lute songs create not only local colour but also a sense of ironic distance from the 20th century.” The prominent use of wind instruments in the orchestral suite, Opus 53a, is reminiscent of the predominance of winds and percussion in the original Elizabethan dance music, and makes this an effective subject for the band transcription prepared by Jan Bach.

- Program Note by U.S. Marine Band


Commercial Discography


State Ratings

  • Florida: VI
  • Louisiana: V
  • Maryland: VI
  • Michigan: Senior High AA
  • Oklahoma: V-A
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Mark Scatterday, conductor) - 17 February 2021
  • Mid America Freedom Band (Kansas City, Mo.) (Lee Hartman, conductor) – 20 October 2019
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg) Wind Ensemble (Derek Shapiro, conductor) – 13 October 2019
  • Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble (Boston) (Michael Mucci, conductor)– 15 May 2019
  • College-Conservatory of Music (Cincinnati, Ohio) Wind Ensemble (Thomas Gamboa, conductor) – 28 March 2019
  • Shenandoah Conservatory (Winchester, Va.) Concert Band (Keith Taylor, conductor) - 24 April 2018
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Wind Ensemble (J. Nick Smith, conductor) – 12 December 2017
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Symphony (Stephen G. Peterson, conductor) – 24 September 2017
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Orchestra (Terrence Milligan, conductor) – 12 April 2017
  • California State University, Northridge, Wind Ensemble (Lawerence Stoffel, conductor) – 29 November 2016
  • Foothill Symphonic Winds (Los Altos, Calif.) (David Bruce Adams, conductor) - 7 June 2015
  • University of Michigan Symphony Band (Dustin Barr, conductor) - 10 April 2015


Works for Winds by this Composer


References

  • Britten, B.; Bach, J. (1995). The Courtly Dances: From Act 2 of the Opera Gloriana, op. 53 [score]. Boosey & Hawkes: [New York?].
  • Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music. "Courtly Dances from Gloriana." Accessed 5 April 2015
  • Worzbyt, Jason. "Courtly Dances." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 9, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 512-518. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2013.

Category; Multi-Movement