Pirates of Penzance Overture

From Wind Repertory Project
Sir Arthur Sullivan

Arthur Sullivan (arr. Ted R. Marcus)

General Info

Year: 1879 / 2010
Duration: c. 8:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Ted R. Marcus
Cost: Score and Parts - $45.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
C Flute 1-2
Oboe 1-2
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
Bb Clarinet 1-2-3
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
Bassoon 1-2
Eb Alto Saxophone 1-2
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
Bb Trumpet 1-2-3
Horn in F 1-2-3-4
Trombone 1-2-3
Euphonium (bass clef)
Baritone (treble clef)
String Bass

  • Snare Drum
  • Concert Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals

Mallet Percussion (2 players; can be performed with 1 player):

  • Vibraphone
  • Bells
  • Xylophone
  • Marimba



None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Fictionalized pirates were popular fixtures of Victorian literature, drama, and opera. A comic opera about an improbable band of tender-hearted pirates ineptly terrorizing a placid seaside resort in Cornwall would have amused audiences in 1879 even without topsy-turvy complications. But W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan actually had another kind of pirate in mind with The Pirates of Penzance: The producers of some 150 "pirated" American productions of H.M.S. Pinafore, their hit from the previous year. An authorized production in the United States was then required to obtain copyright protection for a play or opera. As Gilbert and Sullivan had not yet brought Pinafore to America, they had no recourse against any of the pirates. So they decided to premiere The Pirates of Penzance in New York, after they opened their authorized production of H.M.S. Pinafore. (A pro-forma public reading of Pirates in Devon the day before the New York opening secured the British copyright.)

In the rush to complete the music and orchestration of an opera in time for opening night, Sullivan usually left the overture for the last minute. When he didn't have time to do it himself, he delegated that task to an assistant. For the Pirates overture, Sullivan turned to Alfred Cellier, who conducted most of the Savoy operas. Cellier's medley overture can stand on its own in the concert hall thanks to the appealing tunes it contains. Notably, it begins and ends with what would later become famous (with a new unauthorized lyric) as "Hail, Hail, The Gang's All Here."

- Program Note by Ted R. Marcus


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Peninsula Symphonic Winds (Richard Babcock, conductor) - 22 May 2011

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


None discovered thus far.