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Passing Bell, The

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Warren Benson

Warren Benson

General Info

Year: 1974
Duration: c. 10:20
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Edward B. Marks
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $125.00   |   Score Only (print) - $15.00


Full Score
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Bb Contrabass Clarinet
Soprano Saxophone
Alto Saxophone
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Bongos
  • Chimes
  • Claves
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Suspended Iron Rods (2)
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tom-Tom
  • Triangle (2)
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Passing Bell is a dramatic and ethereal composition for the contemporary concert band. The work is "scored with sophisticated harmonies and extended ranges that bring upper woodwinds, horns, and trombones into their upper tessituras. The composer's use of space, time, and rhythm, have never been more impressive. This is a major wind band piece that deserves to take its place among the very finest compositions of our time."

The Passing Bell was commissioned by Weston Noble and Luther College in memory of their concertmaster, Dennis Rathjen, a Norwegian student who died after a brief illness. Warren Benson conducted the premiere by the Luther College Band.

The work begins with a solo clarinet sounding concert C, a symbol prevailing throughout the piece. The material centers around two hymns, Jesus, Meine Zuversicht (Praxix Pietatis Melica, 1653) and Merthyr Tydvil (Irish: We Move in Faith) (Joseph Parry, 1870). The first in C major, is a hymn of hope from the Burial Service in the Lutheran Hymnal; the second in G minor, is a triumphant Welsh hymn of faith.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

Although The Passing Bell is listed for wind ensemble, the performing forces required are somewhat larger than most in this category due to a significant number of divided parts within the piece. Additionally, a full complement of percussion instruments is called for, including five different sounding suspended cymbals and two suspended iron rods. Extended sonorities and wide ranges are common in the composition; mature players are required. This piece was commissioned as a tribute to the memory of deceased concertmaster at Luther College, in Decorah, Iowa.

- Program Note from Great Music for Wind Band

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

  • Florida: VI
  • Texas: V


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Dennis Glocke, conductor) – 18 October 2019
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (H. Robert Reynolds, conductor) – 5 April 2019
  • Texas 5A Symphonic Band (Robert Carnochan, conductor) - 16 February 2019 (2019 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • Baylor University (Waco, Texas) Wind Ensemble (Eric Wilson, conductor) – 1 February 2019
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony (Kevin Michael Holzman, conductor) – 28 November 2018
  • Charles River Wind Ensemble (Boston, Mass.) (Matthew M. Marsit, conductor) – 18 November 2018
  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Wind Symphony (Stephen Bolstad, conductor) – 4 October 2017
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Wind Ensemble (Damon S. Talley, conductor) – 1 December 2016
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Scatterday, conductor) – 2 November 2016
  • University of Miami (Fla.) Frost Wind Ensemble (Chee Weng Yim, conductor) – 3 December 2015
  • Eastman Wind Ensemble (Mark Davis Scatterday, conductor) - 3 May 2015
  • Western/Northwestern Division Conference CBDNA Intercollegiate Band (Eric Rombach-Kendall, conductor) - 17 March 2012
  • Butler University Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble (H. Robert Reynolds, conductor) - 6 October 2007

Works for Winds by this Composer


  • Benson, W. (1983). The Passing Bell: For Concert Band [score]. Edward B. Marks Music Co.: Milwaukee, Wisc.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 886-897.
  • Nicholson, Chad. (2009). Great Music for Wind Band: A Guide to the Top 100 Works in Grades IV, V, VI. Galesville, MD: Meredith Music Publications. pp 122.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 55