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King Across the Water, The

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Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

General Info

Year: 1995
Duration: c. 6:15
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: G & M Brand
Cost: Score & Parts - $75.00   |   Score Only - $10.00


1. Battle
2. Lament
3. Dancing


Full Score
Flute I-II (I optional C Piccolo)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II
Percussion I-II, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambour (various for woodwinds to use)
  • Tom-Toms


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This work is based on an event in the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie. He had returned to Scotland and was gathering about him an army heading south towards England, which had sent Sir John Cope to fight with him. The traditional folk-song Johnnie Cope is the basis of all the themes in the work.

Charlie attacked the English at Prestonpans outside Edinburgh -- this is represented by Battle -- where the theme appears as fanfares and battle shrieks. There followed a period of mourning as the English had been massacred -- Lament -- in which the theme is fragmented into long sustained phrases. The Scots rejoiced and celebrated in Edinburgh -- Dancing -- where the theme is the original used as a reel.

- Program Note by composer

Fraser treats the folk song three different ways in the three movements of the piece. In the first movement, Battle, we hear marching and gunfire in the sounds of tambours (hand drums) played by many of the wind players in the band. The melody is introduced as a brilliant fanfare led by the trumpets, then all the brass.

The battle ensues, then we are led into the plaintive second movement, the Lament, during which a solo clarinet plays the same melody, but this time as a mournful cry. Flutes and other high winds follow, singing the sad melody in a slow round, like wails of the grief-stricken. The battle has been successful, but injuries were suffered and lives were lost. Percussion adds sparse reminders of gunfire and marching sounds, perhaps to reflect loss and injury of members of the batterie.

In the third movement, we hear the folk tune in its original form, a Scottish reel. A festive mood is evident. The Scottish have defeated their enemy, and now it’s time to dance and make merry! After a rousing intro, an elegant trumpet solo presents the jaunty dance melody. Next, the tune is played by clarinets in the lovely chalumeau register, then a lively piccolo solo follows. A tenor sax and euphonium join the piccolo on the repeat, and finally the whole band shares the melody in hocket style, one or two notes at a time. As the warriors dance and make their way home, they realize they have gleaned life experience, much like the deeper understanding that the listener and musician have acquired from the transformation of the Scottish folk song Johnnie Cope.

- Program Note by Nancy Moser for the Joaquin Miller Middle School Advanced Band concert program, 21 February 2015


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer


None discovered thus far.