Outdoor Overture, An

From Wind Repertory Project
Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland (transcribed by the composer)

General Info

Year: 1938 / 1948
Duration: c. 9:25
Original Medium: Orchestra
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts - $120.00   |   Score Only - $19.95


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet Solo-I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet
B-flat Cornet Solo-I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Triangle
  • Xylophone


In Parts:

  • Trombone I-II, m.150: Remove mute
  • Euphonium, m.188-191: Ties over eighth notes are phrase markings, not slurs. Eighth notes should be separated.

In Score and Parts:

  • Rehearsal numbers include the first partial bar which containing only one quarter note. Rehearsal 5 is the fourth complete bar.

Program Notes

While An Outdoor Overture may be considered more audience-friendly than Copland's Emblems, the former exhibits several of the same characteristics of the latter: open harmonic structures, a contrast of broad statements with intricate rhythmic motives, and disjunct melodic lines. A strong cornet soloist is recommended, as the introductory solo calls for flexibility and nuance.

- Notes from Great Music for Wind Band

Aaron Copland composed An Outdoor Overture for an entirely indoor occasion: a concert by the orchestra of the High School of Music and Art in New York City on December 16, 1938. The school's conductor, Alexander Richter, was in the process of launching a campaign to foster the writing of "American music for American youth," and the composer found the invitation to write such a work "irresistible" (all the more, perhaps, because his music was undergoing a stylistic change). An Outdoor Overture was a milestone in confirming this change, since it was written for young people to play, and the vague criterion of accessibility therefore mattered more to Copland than it had before. This change proved crucial, of course, as the works of this period, including Appalachian Spring and Rodeo, and culminating in the Third Symphony of 1946, have remained his best-loved, most-performed scores.

This band arrangement was made by Copland himself -- at his publisher's suggestion -- several years after its composition. The "outdoor" in the title stems from the style of spacious chordal writing, implying that very high and very low sonorities are present throughout.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

Outdoor Overture starts in a large and grandiose manner with a theme that is immediately developed as a long solo for the trumpet with a pizzicato accompaniment. A short bridge passage in the woodwinds leads imperceptibly to the first theme of the allegro section, characterized by repeated notes. Shortly afterwards, these repeated notes, played broadly, give us a second march-like theme, developed in a canon form. There is an abrupt pause, a sudden decrescendo, and the third, lyric theme appears, first in the flute and then the clarinet. Repeated notes on the bassoon seem to lead the piece in the direction of the opening allegro. Instead, a fourth and final theme evolves another march theme, but this time less articulate, and with more serious implications. There is a build-up to the opening grandiose introduction again, continuing with the trumpet solo melody. A short bridge section based on steady rhythm brings a condensed recapitulation of the allegro section. At the climax of the piece, all the themes are combined. A brief coda ends the work similarly to the beginning

- Program Note from University of Missouri Wind Ensemble concert program, 3 December 2015

High school conductor Alexander Richter commissioned Copland to create “American music for American youth.” An Outdoor Overture for orchestra was premiered by Richter in December 1938. Although written for an indoor concert, musical scenes of awe, curiosity, exploration, and play invite the audience to an outside adventure. This, however, is not strictly “light music.” Solemn fanfares and weighty marches are thoughtful moments where one might consider an adventurer’s place in the larger context of the outdoor world.

At the time of the premiere, the piece represented the beginning of changes to Copland’s overall style. Today, it is in the catalog of his most popular and oft-performed compositions (along with Billy the Kid and Appalachian Spring). Unlike many of his works, tonight’s transcription for band was made by Copland himself, ten years after the premiere.

- Program Note from University of Georgia Hodgson Wind Ensemble concert program, 17 November 2019


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Arkansas: V
  • Florida: VI
  • Georgia: VI
  • Kansas: V
  • Louisiana: V
  • Maryland: VI
  • Massachusetts: V
  • Minnesota: I
  • Mississippi: VI-A
  • New York: VI
  • North Carolina: VI
  • Oklahoma: V-A
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Tennessee: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete
  • Virginia: VI
  • Wisconsin: Event 3000 Concert Band Class A Standard Repertoire


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

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