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Portrait of a Clown

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Score Cover

Frank Ticheli

General Info

Year: 1988
Duration: 2:45
Difficulty: II (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Manhattan Beach Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $75.00   |   Score Only - $12.00


Full Score
Flute and Oboe
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet
Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II
Horn in F
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Woodblock
  • Xylophone


In score and parts:

  • Trombone, m.47: Should be an A-flat.

Program Notes

Portrait of a Clown is in A-B-A form, with a short introduction and coda. The melody in the A section, first appearing in the flutes and oboe, is bouncy and happy manner. The middle B section is flowing and melancholy, and is followed by a return to the A melody with its walking bass and woodwind countermelody.

Special thanks to Donald S. George and the University of Wisconsin - ­Eau Claire Symphony Band, who provided the initial recording of the piece, and to Cheryl Floyd and the Murchison Middle School Matador Band, who gave the work its premiere performance at the Murchison Middle School Annual Spring Concert on May 26, 1988, in Austin, Texas.

- Program Note by composer

Performance Notes

Portrait of a Clown is in ABA form surrounded by an eight-bar introduction and coda:

Introduction (beginning at measure "1")
A (beginning at rehearsal letter "A")
B (beginning at rehearsal letter "D")
A (beginning at rehearsal letter "H")
Coda (beginning at rehearsal letter "K")

The melody in the A section, first appearing in the flutes and oboe, is derived from the first five pitches of the B-flat Lydian scale: B flat, C, D, E natural, and F. It should be performed in a bouncy, happy manner, and should always predominate.

The middle section is flowing and melancholy, but without a change in tempo. It contains two melodies, one at letters D, E, and G, and the other at letter F in the clarinets and horns. Both melodies are marked "espressivo," and should always sing through.

The return of the A section at letter H contains three statements of the Lydian melody:

1. with a walking bass in the low woodwinds and low brass;
2. with its inversion in the 1st trumpets (at letter I); and
3. with a countermelody in the woodwinds (at letter J).

A brief coda at letter K recalls the introduction, and brings the piece to a close.

The piece was scored in such a way as to permit performances by bands lacking sufficient depth in low woodwinds and low brass; therefore, those band directors who do have enough of these instruments should take great care in not allowing them to overpower the others.


State Ratings

Florida: II


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Louisville (Ky.) Symphonic Band (Andrew Harris, conductor) - 29 April 2022
  • Catawba Valley New Horizons Band (Hickory, N.C.) (Len Allman, conductor) - May 2016

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Frank Ticheli, personal correspondence, August 2020
  • Frank Ticheli website Accessed 6 July 2020
  • Frank Ticheli's site at Manhattan Beach Music.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 211-216.
  • Ticheli, F. (1989). Portrait of a Clown [score]. Manhattan Beach Music: Brooklyn, N.Y.