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Elegy for a Young American

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This work has been identified for inclusion in the Small Band Repertoire Initiative. You may find discussion of the work's challenges and merits under the Discussion tab above. You may also contribute your own thoughts and recommendations by joining the WRP.

Ronald Lo Presti

Ronald Lo Presti

General Info

Year: 1967
Duration: c. 6:35
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Theodore Presser
Cost: Score and Parts - $95.00   |   Full Score Only - $35.00   |   Condensed Score Only - $6.00


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 Trumpet (Cornet) I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Tenor Drum
  • Xylophone


In parts:

  • Bassoon II. reh. 11, beat 4: F-flat should read F natural
  • Bass Clarinet, m.8: Delete rehearsal figure 1; move it one measure later (to meas. 9)

Program Notes

Elegy for a Young American was written in 1964 and is dedicated to the memory of President John F. Kennedy. The Indiana Wind Ensemble, with Daniel DiCicco conducting, premiered the work in April of that same year.

Except for a ten-measure allegro near the end, the tempo of the entire work is a slow adagio. Contrast and balance are achieved by solo instruments alternating with small sections of instruments and with the sound of the full band. A simple scalar motif in the opening clarinet develops through the elegy, giving the listener a full musical experience of pain, grief, and loss. The ending chimes leave us with a sense of acceptance and peace.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

Written to honor the memory of President John F. Kennedy, this somber work has been a staple in the repertoire for many years and is on most lists as one of the top pieces in literature. It is our hope that by this re-promotion, a new generation of band directors and musicians will become familiar with this classic work.

- Program Note from publisher

Elegy for a Young American is a testament to the vision and commitment of our 35th president, as well as a deeply emotional meditation on his tragic passing. The work is often described as moving through the various stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Interestingly, the idea of a codified progression of grief was not put forward until 1969, five years after the premiere, but there is no doubt that the piece travels through many of the emotional states felt by so many Americans in November of 1963. Gentle, homophonic choruses give way to discordant outbursts and massive climaxes as the composer struggles to make sense of Kennedy’s death. Finally, the anguish settles into a peaceful resolution, suggesting that even in the face of tragedy there is some room for acceptance.

- Program Note by Kevin Simpson for the United States Army Band concert program, 23 February 2019


State Ratings

  • Arkansas: IV
  • Florida: V
  • Minnesota: II
  • North Carolina: V
  • Texas: IV. Complete
  • Virginia: IV


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Tyler (Tx.) Junior College Symphonic Band (Eddie W. Airheart, conductor) - 12 April 2022
  • Crofton (Md.) High School Concert Band (Erick Von Sas, conductor) 15 December 2021
  • Bemidji (Minn.) State University Symphonic Band (Ryan Webber, conductor) - 16 November 2021
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City) Wind Ensemble (Timothy Sexton, conductor) - 9 November 2021
  • University of Nebraska at Kearney Wind Ensemble (Duane Bierman, conductor) - 30 September 2021
  • Angelo State University (San Angelo, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Jonathan Alvis, conductor) - 2 May 2021
  • East Tennessee State University (Johnson City) Wind Ensemble (Christian Zembower, conductor) - 11 March 2021
  • Pima Community College (Tucson, Ariz.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Nelson, conductor) – 12 March 2020
  • University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg) Concert Band (Travis Higa, conductor) – 4 March 2020
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Symphonic Band (Preston Weber, conductor) – 3 March 2020
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) Symphonic Band (Tom Davoren, conductor) – 2 March 2020
  • Oklahoma State University (Stillwater) Concert Band (Tyler Austin, conductor) – 25 February 2020
  • Stetson University (Deland, Fla.) University Concert Band (Doug Phillips, conductor) – 25 February 2020
  • Houghton (N.Y.) College Wind Ensemble (Timothy McGarvey, conductor) – 21 February 2020
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Symphonic Band (Eric M. Smedley, conductor) – 11 February 2020
  • Baylor University (Waco, Texas) Symphonic Band (Nathan Taylor, conductor) – 25 November 2019
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Symphonic Band (Gabrielle Tordi, conductor) – 21 November 2019
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Concert Band (Luslaida Barbosa, conductor) – 6 November 2019
  • Bentonville (Ark.) High School Wind Ensemble (Tim Hendrix, conductor) – 13 May 2019
  • Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.) Wind Ensemble (Joseph D. Conti, conductor) – 29 April 2019
  • Liberty Youth Wind Symphony (West Chester, Penn.) (Andrew Yozviak, conductor) – 14 April 2019
  • Virginia Wind Symphony (Norfolk) (Frederick Fennell, conductor) – 17 December 2004 (2004 Midwest Clinic)

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Lo Presti, R. [1967]. Elegy for a Young American [score]. T. Presser: Bryn Mawr, Pa.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 390-391.