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First Symphony for Band

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William Bolcom

William Bolcom

General Info

Year: 2008
Duration: c. 16:35
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental (Presser)   |   Score Only - $50.00 (Leonard)


1. Ô tempora ô mores - 4:35
2. Scherzo tenebroso - 5:00
3. Andantino pastorale - 3:40
4. Marches funéraires et dansantes - 3:55


Full Score
C Piccolo
English Horn
Bassoon I-II-III
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV-V-VI-VII-VIII
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV-V-VI
Horn in F I-II-III-IV-V-VI
Trombone I-II-III-IV
Euphonium I-II
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:

  • Bass Drum with pedal
  • Bongos, 4 graduated
  • China Cymbals
  • Crash Cymbals, 3 graduated
  • Crotales
  • Flexatones (2)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Hi-Hat
  • Maracas
  • Marimba
  • Piccolo Snare Drum
  • Slapstick
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal, 3 graduated
  • Suspended Cymbal, small and medium
  • Tam-Tam, large
  • Temple Blocks (5)
  • Tenor Drum
  • Thai Gongs, tuned
  • Tom-Tom (4)
  • Triangle


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Commissioned by the Big Ten Band Directors Association and premiered by the University of Michigan Symphony Band, Michael Haithcock, conductor, my First Symphony for Band (2008) was originally planned to be my Ninth Symphony. I had decided to follow my friend John Corigliano’s example of calling his magnificent Symphony No. 3, "Circus Maximus" for band Symphony No. 3. On reflection I realized that, since Beethoven and Mahier, ninth symphonies have been thought of as a composer’s last will and testament — a third symphony doesn’t have that stigma — and I’m not ready for that final word yet. Thus, this is a First Symphony for Band.

The First Symphony is by far the most ambitious piece in my very small catalogue for band. In form it relates most closely to my fifth and sixth symphonies for orchestras: as with them, it begins with a tight sonata movement followed by a scherzo, a slow movement, and a sort of rondo-finale. Ô tempora ô mores, a tragic and forceful protest, laments our dark time. Scherzo tenebroso is a cousin to the scherzi in my third, fifth and sixth symphonies, especially in the sardonic use of popular material in their trios; in this trio, as we hear the cornet playing a waltz, I envision a clown dancing. Andantino pastorale belies a seemingly simple tunefulness with its dark undercurrent. The image of a New Orleans funeral procession, followed by a joyous dance-like march back from the graveyard, gives the form of Marches funéraires et dansantes, and leaves us at long last with an atmosphere of exuberance and hope.

- Program Notes by composer

Commercial Discography

Audio Links

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • California State University, Fullerton, Wind Symphony (Dustin Barr, conductor) – 7 March 2019
  • The Hartt Wind Ensemble (West Hartford, Conn.) (James Jackson, conductor) – 1 November 2019
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble (Kevin M. Geraldi, conductor) – 25 April 2019
  • Baylor University (Waco, Texas) Wind Ensemble (Eric Wilson, conductor) – 19 November 2018
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 9 March 2018
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Stephen W. Pratt, conductor) – 28 March 2017
  • Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Tex.) Meadows Wind Ensemble (John DeLaney, conductor) - 12 February 2015 (2015 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • Lawrence University Wind Ensemble (Andrew Mast, conductor) - 24 May 2014

Works for Winds by this Composer


  • Bolcom, W. (2008). First Symphony for Band [score]. E.B. Marks Co.: [New York]