From a Dark Millennium
Full Score (score is in "Open" or "French" format)
Flutes I-II-III (Flute II-III doubing on Piccolo)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III (I doubling E-flat Clarinet, II-III doubling Bass Clarinet)
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
String Bass (2)
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:
- Bass Drums (Medium-Large and Large)
- Remo Rototoms (6 drums)
- Suspended Cymbals (4; one small, two medium, one large)
- Suspended Triangle (Large)
- Tam-tam (Medium Large and Large)
- Timbales (4)
- Tom-Toms (3)
- Tubular Bells
- Vibraphones (2)
Performers singing and whistling
- Piano, m.21: Remove the dot from the dotted quarter at the end of the measure (should be a quarter note, as in m. 25).
- Celesta, m.21: Remove the dot from the dotted quarter at the end of the measure (should be a quarter note, as in m. 25).
From a Dark Millennium was commissioned by a consortium of college band directors from the Midwest in 1980 (the Mid-America Band Directors Association) and premiered by the University of Northern Illinois Wind Ensemble in 1981. It is a re-working of a movement from Schwantner’s earlier chamber work, Music of Amber. This work marks the only occasion in which Schwantner has used the same source material for two different works. The title is drawn from a poem written by Schwantner:
a play of Shadows
most ancient murmurings
from a dark millennium
the trembling fragrance
of the music of amber
- Program Note by Nikk Pilato
Written for woodwinds, brasses, and piano/celeste, the work includes an expanded percussion section. Challenges include complex rhythms, changing meters, singing and whistling, and extremes of range and volume. The piece ends with a quiet reference to a dark and solemn ostinato which first appears early in the score.
- Program Note from Program Notes for Band
From a Dark Millennium shows how an experienced composer can transform original material into more than one aesthetically satisfying form and still meet performance deadlines. The work is Schwantner’s second piece for the medium, commissioned by the Mid-American Conference Band Directors Association in 1980 after the success of ...and the mountains rising nowhere. It draws its musical material from an early Schwantner chamber work entitled Music of Amber. Both pieces were inspired by the composer’s poem “Sanctuary.”
Schwantner does not consider From a Dark Millennium to be programmatic, but he acknowledges that “the mysterious and shadowy atmosphere... springs from images drawn from a brief original poem that forms the poetic backdrop for the work. The poem helped to stimulate, provoke, and enhance the flow of my musical ideas.”
- Program Note from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble concert program, 21 April 2016
In 1980, the Mid-American Conference Band Directors Association commissioned Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph Schwantner to write a follow-up work to his landmark ...and the mountains rising nowhere of 1977. The resulting work, From a Dark Millennium, received its premiere by the University of Northern Illinois Wind Ensemble in 1981. A re-working of a material from his chamber work, Music of Amber, this marked the only occasion in which Schwantner borrowed earlier material for a subsequent work. Both works draw inspiration from Schwantner’s poetry:
a play of shadows,
most ancient murmurings
from a dark millennium,
the trembling fragrance
of the music of amber…
From a Dark Millennium has come to be seen as the second movement in a trilogy of sorts for wind ensemble including …and the mountains rising nowhere (1977), and In evening’s stillness… (1996) – bookends to From a Dark Millennium (1981). Although Schwantner does not consider From a Dark Millennium to be programmatic, he does admit that, “the mysterious and shadowy atmosphere ... springs from images drawn from a brief original poem that forms the poetic backdrop for the work. The poem helped to stimulate, provoke, and enhance the flow of my musical ideas.”
As a composition, From a Dark Millennium is a model of economy, spun out from the material heard in the first measure: a re-ordered “octatonic scale” [F, F#, Ab, A, B, C, D, Eb] -- a scale that ascends by alternating half-steps and whole-steps. The work features several of Schwantner’s “hallmark techniques,” the most apparent of which are a prominent, almost solisitc piano, and several large-scale percussion parts.
- Program Note from State University of New York, Potsdam, Crane Wind Ensemble concert program, 14 February 2018
- South Carolina: VI
- Texas: V
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- University of Missouri, Kansas City, Wind Ensemble (Joseph Parisi, conductor) – 17 October 2019
- Hope College (Holland, Mich.) Wind Ensemble (Gabe Southard, conductor) – 8 April 2019
- University of Colorado Boulder Wind Symphony (Donald J. McKinney, conductor) – 20 March 2019
- Binghamton (N.Y.) University Wind Symphony (Daniel Fabricius, conductor) – 24 February 2019
- Utah Valley University (Orem, Utah) Wind Symphony (Thomas Keck, conductor) - 10 October 2018
- Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Mark Scatterday, conductor) – 12 October 2018
- University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Wind Symphony (Jaclyn Hartenberger, conductor) – 20 April 2018
- University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Orchestra (Terrence Milligan, conductor) – 15 February 2018
- State University of New York, Potsdam, Crane Wind Ensemble (Brian K. Doyle, conductor) – 14 February 2018
- Boston University (Mass.) Wind Ensemble (David Martins, conductor) – 16 November 2017
- University of Maryland (College Park) Wind Orchestra (Brian Coffill, conductor) - 10 November 2017
- Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Eric Laprade, conductor) – 3 March 2017
- University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) Wind Ensemble (Christopher Knighten, conductor; Tomoko Kashiwagi, piano) – 24 February 2017
- University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire Wind Symphony (John R. Stewart, conductor) - 18 November 2016
- University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Symphony (Stephen G. Peterson, conductor) – 30 October 2016
- Brooklyn (N.Y.) Wind Symphony (Jeff Ball, conductor) – 29 October 2016
- University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble (William L. Lake, Jr., conductor) – 21 April 2016
- University of Kansas (Lawrence) Wind Ensemble (Tonya Mitchell, conductor) – 18 April 2016
- University of Oregon (Eugene) Wind Ensemble (Rodney Dorsey, conductor) – 9 March 2016
- Illinois State University (Normal) Symphonic Winds (Martin H. Seggelke, conductor) – 29 February 2016
- Florida State University Wind Orchestra (Jason S. Ladd conductor) - April 24, 2009
Works for Winds by This Composer
- ...and the mountains rising nowhere (1977)
- The Awakening Hour (2017)
- Beyond Autumn (tr. Miles) (2006)
- Concerto for Percussion (tr. Boysen Jr.) (1997)
- From a Dark Millennium (1980)
- In evening's stillness... (1996)
- Luminosity: Concerto for Wind Orchestra (2015)
- Music of Amber (1981)
- New Morning for the World (tr. Pilato) (1982/2007)
- Recoil (2004)
- Sparrows (1979)
- Higbee, Scott. (2003). "Joseph Schwantner." In: A Composer's Insight, Volume 1. Galesville, Md.: Meredith Music Publications. pp. 131–146.
- Lourens, Alan. From a Dark Millennium. MBM Times, Issue 6 (2012), 70.
- Miles, Richard, compiler and editor. (2000). Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. Volume 3. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 682–697.
- Paynter, John P. (1978, September). “New music reviews.” The Instrumentalist 33, 96 [Review]
- Pilato, NIkk. (2007). ”A conductor’s guide to the wind music of Joseph Schwantner with a transcription of the composer’s New Morning for the World.” Ph.D. dissertation. Tallahassee: Florida State University.
- Popejoy, James. (2000). "From a Dark Millennium comes the Music of Amber: A comparative study of two works by Joseph Schwantner." D.M.A. dissertation.Denton:University of North Texas.
- Renshaw, Jefrey. (1989, September). “Joseph Schwantner’s From a Dark Millennium: An interpretive analysis.” The Instrumentalist 44(2), 22-29, 117-119.
- Renshaw, Jeffrey. (1991). "Schwantner on Composition." The Instrumentalist, 45(6)
- Joseph Schwantner - Official Website
- Schwantner, J. (1981). From a Dark Millennium: For Wind Ensemble [score]. Helicon Music: [s.l.].
- Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 539.