Overture to "The Wasps"

From Wind Repertory Project
Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams (trans. Hudson)

General Info

Year: 1909 / 1995
Duration: c. 10:00
Original scoring: Orchestra
Difficulty: IV-1/2 (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: TRN Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $90.00   |   Score Only - $12.00


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Triangle


In parts:

  • Piccolo, m.317: change last note to A.
  • Flute I & II, m.405: change the last quarter note to B-flat.
  • Oboe I, m.76: add dot to first note; m.117, change second note to F-sharp.
  • Oboe II, m.117: change second note to F-sharp.
  • Clarinet I, m.217: beat 3; change lower div. G to G-sharp.
  • Clarinet II, m.224: delete bar line before beat 3.
  • Clarinet III, m.420: change 2nd 16th note to F natural.
  • Bassoon I & II, m.311: change beat 2 to even eighth notes.
  • Alto Sax I, m.133: delete first eighth rest.
  • Alto Sax II, m.114: make first quarter G sharp, m.121, make D-sharp.
  • Trumpet I, m.222: delete bar line before beat 3.
  • Trumpet II, m.130: change to 5 measures rest; m.349, delete bar line before beat 3.
  • Horn I, m.317: change 4th 16th note to D.
  • Horn II, m.146, 154, 160, 349: delete sharp from key signature.
  • Trombone II, m.130-131: make 1st note B natural
  • Trombone II, m.132: make 1st note D-flat.
  • Tuba, m.159: change 1st two eighth notes to F-G.
  • String Bass, m.403: first 4 notes should read F-G-A-G.
  • Harp, m.201: beat 1 & 2, change top stave to bass clef.

Program Notes

Overture to “The Wasps” was written for a production at Trinity College, Cambridge, of Aristophanes’ play, The Wasps, which satirizes the Athenian courts of law. The overture opens with the buzzing sounds of the judiciary and continues with a bouncy tune introduced by the woodwinds and joined by the entire band. A march theme and a pastoral tune are added later. All three themes are restated and altered throughout the piece, which eventually ends with the march tune. Except for the opening buzzing, the piece has surprisingly little to do with wasps or with ancient Greece.

- Program Note by the San Jose Wind Symphony


State Ratings

  • Florida: VI
  • Georgia: VI
  • Louisiana: V
  • Maryland: VI
  • Mississippi: VI-A
  • Oklahoma: V-A
  • Tennessee: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • OKC Winds (Oklahoma City, Okla.) (Mike Lowery, conductor) - 25 June 2023
  • Philadelphia (Penn.) Wind Symphony (Paul Bryan, conductor) – 14 December 2019
  • Butler University (Indianapolis, Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Michael Colburn, conductor) – 8 April 2017
  • Allegheny College (Penn.) Band Camp for Adult Musicians (Timothy Foley, conductor) – 1 July 2016
  • University of Texas, Austin, Symphony Band (Steven M. Knight, conductor) – 14 October 2015
  • San Jose Wind Symphony (Edward Harris, conductor) - 9 March 2014
  • Brooklyn (N.Y.) Wind Symphony (Jeff W. Ball, conductor) - 24 October 2009

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Vaughan Williams, R.; Hudson, F. (1995). Overture to "The Wasps" [score]. TRN Music: Ruidoso, N.M.