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Marching Song of Democracy

From Wind Repertory Project
Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger


General Info

Year: 1917 / 1948 / 1991
Duration: c. 7:15
Difficulty: IV-1/2 (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts - $75.00   |   Score Only - $9.95


Instrumentation

Full Score
C Piccolo I-II
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
Contra-Bassoon
Eb Clarinet
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Bb Soprano Saxophone
Eb Alto Saxophone I-II
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Bass Saxophone
Cornets I-II-III
Bb Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium (Bass Clef & Treble Clef)
Tuba
String Bass
Piano (optional)
Harp (optional)
Timpani
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong
  • Marimba
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Swiss Hand Bells (optional)
  • Tubular Bells
  • Vibraphone


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Percy Grainger wrote these notes on his Marching Song of Democracy:

When in Paris during the Exhibition of 1900, I happened unexpectedly upon the public statue of George Washington while trolling about the streets one day, and somehow or other this random occurrence galvanized in me a definite desire to typify the buoyant on-march of optimistic humanitarian democracy in a musical composition in which a forward-striding host of comradely affectionate humanity might be heard, “chanting the great pride of man in himself.”

My original plan was to write my Marching Song of Democracy for voices and whistlers only (no instruments) and have it performed by a chorus of men, women and children, singing and whistling to the rhythmic accompaniment of their tramping feet as they marched along in the open air; but a later realization of the need for instrumental color inherent in the character of the music from the first ultimately led me to score it for the concert hall. The musical material dates from the summer of 1901 (Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany), December, 1908 (Stawell, Vic, Wangratta, Vic, Albury, N.S.W., Australia) and the summer of 1915 (New York City, U.S.A.) The final scoring was made in the summer of 1915, the spring and summer of 1916, and the spring of 1917 (New York City). The work, which perhaps it might not be amiss to describe as a kind of modern and Australian version of the Gloria of a Mass, carries the following dedication: “For my darling mother, united with her in loving adoration of Walt Whitman."

- Program Note from Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music


The band version, created for the Goldman Band in 1948, was not published until 1991. Grainger integrated the vocal lines into the texture of the wind band in this version, marking the work purely instrumental.

- Program Note from Teaching Music through Performance in Band


The quite freely moving polyphony of this work was intended by Grainger to be a ‘musical counterpart of individualistic democratic tendencies’. The initial inspiration came during Grainger’s visit to the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900, where he suddenly, unexpectedly stood in front of the statue of George Washington. He later wrote that this random occurrence somehow galvanised in him ‘a definite desire to typify the buoyant on-march of optimistic humanitarian democracy in a musical composition in which a forward-striding host of comradely affectionate athletic humanity might be heard chanting the great pride of man in himself, the underlying urges to be heroic but not martial, exultant but not provocative, passionate but not dramatic, energetic but not fierce, athletic but not competitive’.

The work was also inspired by In a Backward Glance O’er Travel’d Roads (Leaves of Grass) by Walt Whitman and thus dedicated ‘For my darling mother, united with her in loving adoration of Walt Whitman’.

The composition process began in the summer of 1901, but the scoring for chorus, orchestra and organ was not finalised until 1917. In 1948 he scored the version for band, premiered that year by the Goldman Band. His original plan was to write for voices and whistlers only, and have the song performed by a chorus of men, women, and children singing and whistling to the rhythmic accompaniment of their tramping feet as they marched along in the open air. Even though he later decided to score the music for the concert hall, he insisted that ‘An athletic out-of-door spirit must, however, be understood to be behind the piece from start to finish.’

- Program Note by Bjarte Engeset for the University of Texas Symphony Band, 7 December 2018


Commercial Discography


State Ratings

  • Oklahoma: V-A


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Grinnell (Iowa) College Symphonic Band (Joshua W. Neuenschwander, conductor) - 11 May 2019
  • University of Texas (Austin) Symphonic Band (Joshua Gall, conductor) – 7 December 2018
  • Harding University (Searcy, Ark.) Wind Ensemble (Mike Chance, conductor) – 22 February 2018
  • Indiana University Concert Band (David C. Woodley, conductor) - 18 November 2014
  • Philharmonic Winds (Singapore) (Tim Reynish, conductor) - 2012


Works for Winds by this Composer


References

  • Carson, William S. "Marching Song of Democracy." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 11, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 583-597. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2018.
  • Grainger, P. (1991). Marching Song of Democracy: Concert Band [score]. G. Schirmer: New York.
  • Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music. "Marching Song of Democracy." Accessed 27 November 2014