Rolling Thunder March (arr Foster)

From Wind Repertory Project
Henry Fillmore

Henry Fillmore (ed. Robert E Foster)

Subtitle: A Trombone Ace

General Info

Year: 1916 / 2014
Duration: c. 2:05
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $80.00; (digital) - $80.00   |   Score Only (print) - $12.00


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

  • Bass Drum
  • Snare Drum
  • Crash Cymbals


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Written in 1916, Rolling Thunder was dedicated to Ed Hicker, presumably a trombonist, since the march is sub-titled A Trombone Ace. Since its composition, Rolling Thunder has been used for diverse circus acts, including high sway poles, elephant acts, and Roman rides, at rodeos to generate excitement, and on concert programs as a show-stopper. Rolling Thunder is not only one of Henry Fillmore’s most exciting marches, it is also one of his most difficult.

-Program Note from The Grand Band Companion

The fast-paced march Rolling Thunder draws upon two important influences in Fillmore’s life: an early involvement in the circus and a lifelong fascination with the trombone. When the young Fillmore displayed an interest in the slide trombone, his father, a conservative partner in a religious music publishing firm, declared the instrument uncouth, sinful, and off-limits to his son. Fillmore’s mother snuck her son a secondhand instrument to practice in an attempt to keep him out of bigger trouble. The deception was serendipitous since Fillmore became an innovative composer for the instrument, writing signature trombone rags and often featuring the trombone section as he does in Rolling Thunder.

Fillmore’s conservative father also likely disagreed with his decision to join the circus, but this choice also resulted in innovative music. Fillmore’s role as circus bandmaster gave him the opportunity to amplify the circus experience for the audience by using music to intensify suspense or heighten the excitement. A fast and exciting show-stopper like Rolling Thunder makes hearts race and feet tap, whether in the circus ring or the concert hall.

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band concert program, 28 July 2016

Rolling Thunder is a great circus march, as breath-taking in its excitement as the action feats by horsemen riding full tilt around the narrow confines of a sawdust track under canvas. The track is known in the circus as the Hippodrome and the music played by the band to accompany the riding is invariably exciting and driving in its manner, and it is always played at an appropriate breath-taking speed.

- Program Note by Frederick Fennell

N.B. This 2014 Grade IV edition is by Robert E. Foster, senior. It should not be confused with the 2015 Grade III arrangement of Rolling Thunder by Robert E. Foster, the son, published by Wingert-Jones.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) Symphonic Band (Sharon Toulouse, conductor) – 6 March 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • Courage (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Clark) (1919/2003/2012)
  • His Honor March (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Clark) (1933/2014)

All Wind Works


  • "New Music Reviews." The Instrumentalist. September 2017, 38. Print.
  • Perusal score
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 205.