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Nigel Clarke

Nigel Clarke

Subtitle: Three Symphonic Scenes for Concert Band

General Info

Year: 2004
Duration: c. 15:50
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Studio Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - £169.95   |   Score Only (print) - £39.95


1. Road to the Stars – 5:50
2. Orbit – 4:40
3. Homecoming – 5:15


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet (optional)
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Piano (or Clavinola)
Harp (or Synthesizer) Timpani
Percussion (5 players), including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bass Drum, pedal
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Drum Set
  • Glockenspiel
  • Hi-Hat
  • Metal Scaffolding (3 lengths)
  • Snare Drums (2)
  • Sports Whistle
  • Suspended Cymbal (2)
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tenor Drum
  • Triangle, large
  • Tubular Bells
  • Vibraphone
  • Whip
  • Xylophone

Choir (optional)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Three Symphonic Scenes conveys the excitement and traumas of the birth of space travel, following the life of the first man in space - Yuri Gagarin.

- Program Note from publisher

Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was the Soviet farm boy who became the first man in space. In Gagarin I have tried to capture the spirit of the “space race”. Road to the Stars describes the momentous launch of the first manned spacecraft, capturing the excitement of those involved and the strength of Gagarin’s character. Orbit looks at the exhilaration that Gagarin might have experienced and the impression that seeing Earth from space would have had on him. Homecoming is a celebration in the form of a Russian folk-dance. At various moments in the work I use fragments of Sing to the Motherland, Home of the Free (now revised and adopted as the Russian national anthem).

Gagarin was born on 9 March 1934, and this work celebrates his 70th anniversary. It was not until 1961 that the wider world heard his name. His short life spanned the 20th century’s most traumatic times from the turmoil of the Second World War in Russia, through to the Cold War, at the height of which Gagarin served as an officer in the Soviet Air force. It was against the backdrop of the Cold War that the two main post war superpowers competed to launch the first man into space.

Twenty of the Soviet Union’s exceptional test pilots were selected from a list of over 2000 and put through arduous training. Only one was to be chosen to be the first cosmonaut in space. Gagarin was the man the authorities selected for this historical flight; the decision being taken only a few weeks before the actual launch. His rocket, now world famous, was ‘Vostok 1’.

The launch took place in a specially made launch station in the south of the republic of Kazakhstan at Baikonur. There were many disasters and deaths that paved the way to this event. Only weeks before the launch, 190 men died when a rocket exploded at the Baikonur site. It was doubtful whether Gagarin knew about this as the whole project was shrouded in secrecy.

By today’s standards the whole launch process was primitive, but on 1st April 1961 Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth for108 minutes before returning to Earth and landing near the village of Smelkovka in the Saratov region. His return to Earth was reported to be witnessed by one or two local country people. As knowledge of the mission was confined to a privileged few, for them it must have been an unnerving sight.

Gagarin’s experience obviously had a profound effect on him: after his orbit he said ‘Circling the earth in the orbital spaceship I marvelled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty – not destroy it!’ In his own official account of events he describes that at the moment of launch he heard an ever-growing din and felt the rocket tremble all over before it slowly lifted off. He also spoke of a huge range of musical tones, pitches and timbres that no composer or set of musical instruments or voices could ever duplicate.

Gagarin became a national hero after his courageous mission, but although he gained world-wide recognition, he was never allowed to fly in space again. He died, tragically, on 28th March 1968 whilst flying his MiG-15UT1 jet.

- Program Note by composer

To Dr. Matthew J. George and the University of St. Thomas Symphonic Wind Ensemble, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

- Program Note from score

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer