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Fanfares Liturgiques

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Henri Tomasi

Henri Tomasi

General Info

Year: 1947
Duration: c. 19:25
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Alphonse Leduc Éditions Musicales
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $87.85


1. Annonciation – 2:20
2. Evangile – 3:40
3. Apocalypse – 3:30
4. Procession du Vendredi-Saint – 9:00


Full Score
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Percussion (4 players), including:

  • Crash Cymbals
  • Field Drum
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-tam


In parts;

  • Batterie, mvt. 4, m.1: There is no dynamic marking for the tambour militaire; it should be either mezzo forte or piano.
  • Batterie, mvt. 4, reh. 13: Dynamic marking for tambour militaire should be forte.

Program Notes

Tomasi wrote Fanfare Liturgiques (originally Fanfares Concertantes) as part of his opera Don Juan de Mañara; they were premiered in 1947 in Monte Carlo, where Tomasi had recently become conductor of the opera. They were published in 1952, although the full opera was not premiered until 1956 (in Munich).

The first fanfare begins with a brilliant acclimation in the horns, but a somber lyric section follows, with a brief recall of the opening theme at the end. The second is statelier, with prominent timpani; a dramatic solo trombone recitative takes over, leading to a solemn close. The third depicts the horsemen of the apocalypse galloping with a menacing edge, at a confident, aggressive pace. The theatrical final fanfare, as long as the other three combined, comes from a scene in the opera that takes place in Seville during a Holy Week procession, when a heavenly voice sings to protagonist Miguel Mañara, lifting his spirits after the death of his wife. It begins in percussive mystery, and gradually grows in dynamics and intensity under the impassioned pleading of the Spirit of Heaven, as the procession approaches. It fades into calm for an ardent chorale, over which the voice soars again, concluding in a spiritual ecstasy that reminds us of Tomasi’s abiding interest in medieval religious music.

- Program Note from Michigan State University Wind Symphony concert program, 27 October 2016

Within the catalog of his instrumental writing, Tomasi held a strong penchant for wind instruments. His first composition, a quintet for winds, was indicative of this preference; Tomasi’s concerti for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, and saxophone remain valuable additions to each instrument’s repertoire. His affinity for winds, coupled with a long held love of drame lyrique, provided an expressive nexus from which emerged what we now know as Fanfares Liturgiques.

Based on a play by French poet Oscar Milosz, Tornasi’s opera Don Juan de Mañara is set in seventeenth-century Seville, Spain. The story is inspired by the biography of Don Miguel Mañara Vincentelo de Leca who, through the innocence, purity, and love of a woman named Girolama, turns his back on a life of depravity in order to marry her. Shortly after their marriage, Girolama dies and Miguel becomes a monk, devoting his life to charity and good works.

Unquestionably tonal in nature, Tomasi’s musical setting of the story received criticism from some of his contemporaries who championed the avant-garde. Their criticism was in vivid contrast to the central tenet of Tomasi’s musical language as expressed by the composer himself: “Although I haven’t shirked from using the most modern forms of expression, I’ve always been a melodist at heart. I can’t stand systems and sectarianism. I write for the public at large. Music that doesn’t come from the heart isn’t music.”

Although the opera was completed in 1944, it did not receive a staged performance until 1956 in Munich, Germany. However, a “concert performance” of music from the opera was presented to the public in 1947. This performance of music from Don Juan de Manara was arranged into four movements (originally called Fanfares Concertantes) and scored for three trumpets, four horns, four trombones, tuba, timpani, and two percussionists. The music was published in 1952 as Fanfares Liturgiques.

Tomasi’s work for brass and percussion is symphonic in form and demonstrates the musical depth evident in the composer’s output. The first movement, Annonciation, is derived from the first scene of Act III in which Miguel renounces his past life. The shortest of the four movements, its fiery first theme is counterbalanced with an introspective second theme. In a nod to sonata-allegro form, the first theme returns at the end of the movement. The second movement, Evangile, evokes Miguel’s reading of sacred text later in Act III. Typical of a symphony’s third movement, Apocalypse is a scherzo depicting an aged Miguel’s struggle as he confronts a final temptation by the Earth Spirit. Procession du Vendredi-Saint, the fourth and final movement, recalls an earlier scene from Act II. Following Girolama’s death on Holy Thursday, a procession passes by during which the Spirit of Heaven sings to a grief-stricken Miguel. The familiar Dies Irae plainchant serves as an ostinato for the penitential procession, but gives way to a Corsican hymn signifying Miguel’s ultimate redemption.

- Program Note from Monarch Brass concert program, 15 December 2016


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • New England Conservatory (Boston, Mass.) Wind Ensemble (Charles Peltz, conductor) - 10 November 2022
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Wind Symphony (Kevin Sedatole, conductor) - 26 February 2021
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Scatterday, conductor) - 19 February 2021
  • University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Brass Choir – 18 December 2020
  • Ohio University (Athens) Wind Symphony Chamber Players (William Talley, conductor) – 4 March 2020
  • New England Conservatory (Boston, Mass.) Wind Ensemble (Charles Peltz, conductor) – 6 November 2018
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 23 February 2018
  • Monarch Brass (Mallory Thompson, conductor) - 15 December 2016 (2016 Midwest Clinic)
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Wind Symphony (Connor Fetting, conductor) – 27 October 2016
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Symphony (Barry L. Houser, conductor) - 28 March 2015 (2015 CBDNA National Conference, Nashville)
  • Lynn Conservatory of Music (Boca Raton, Fla.) Wind Ensemble (Kenneth Amis, conductor) – 15 September 2012
  • Flexible Brass (Theo Walters, conductor) - 1997

Works for Winds by This Composer