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SS Eagle March

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Robert Russell Bennett

Robert Russell Bennett (arr. Kyle R. Glaser)

Movement V of the symphonic suite Down to the Sea in Ships

General Info

Year: 1969 / 2012
Duration: c. 2:15
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Alfred Music Publishing
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $150.00;   |   Score Only (print) - $15.00


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

  • Bass Drum
  • Boat Whistle
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Finger Cymbals
  • Fog Horn
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong
  • Low Bell
  • Marimba
  • Military Drum
  • Oriental Drum
  • Ship's Bell
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Wood Block (2)
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In 1952 the National Broadcasting Company premiered one of the nation’s first tele-documentaries, Victory at Sea, a twenty-six-part series that chronicled the major naval engagements of the Second World War. Blending film, spoken narrative, and an immense musical score composed by Richard Rodgers and Robert Russell Bennett, Victory at Sea would prove to be an enormous success for the NBC network. The series received thirteen national awards, including an Emmy, a Peabody, and the United States Navy’s Distinguished Service Medal. It also proved to be a financially lucrative venture for the network, as the series was released for syndication in late 1953. In addition, the RCA-Victor label released several recordings of the musical score, which by 1963 would gross nearly four million dollars.

The success of Victory at Sea provided the groundwork for NBC’s next documentary series, entitled Project 20, which sought to trace and illuminate the cultural heritage of modern man. A majority of the Victory at Sea staff participated in Project 20, but Robert Russell Bennett assumed musical oversight over the entire project, including composing and arranging all scores, as well as rehearsing and conducting the NBC orchestra for the recording sessions. Project 20 premiered in 1954 and totaled over 30 one-hour episodes when the series ended in the early 1970s.

The episode entitled Down to the Sea in Ships aired on the NBC network on December 11, 1968. Relying heavily on sea shanties and folk material, Bennett stated that this episode “had a lot to tell us about our struggles, triumphs, and defeats on the mighty ocean and my department had a lot of excitement with sea chanteys and wild winds and Franz Schubert’s beautiful song, Am Meer (On The Sea).”

NBC Press releases from December 1968 provided additional details for what would be seen in this particular episode:

The magic of the sea, the beauty of ships and their fascination for the men who sail them are explored by NBC’s renowned Project 20 unit in its first offering of the 1968-69 season, Down to the Sea in Ships... Richard Hanser’s script encompasses colorful and vivid detail — the beauty and majesty of the tall ship era, a challenge to the Atlantic Ocean by a 14-foot rowboat, rare film of rounding Cape Horn, the voyage of a latter-day Mayflower (in 1957), the fishermen and the merchantmen “that do business in great waters.”

The pleasure-boating boom and today’s great super-ships also form part of the story. So does the power and the terror of a storm at sea — and its aftermath, silently but eloquently expressed by the lonely hulks in an Atlantic graveyard ... Producer/Director Donald B. Hyatt explains that the program “tries to capture the essence of the adventure, daring, mystery and legend that are the rich heritage of the men who have gone down to the sea in ships.”

The original orchestral score for the program was composed by Robert Russell Bennett, who will also conduct. The program’s title comes from the Old Testament (Psalm 107): “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters — these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.”

Warner Brothers (now Alfred) Publications released a five-movement suite for concert band based on the orchestral score, transcribed by Bennett himself. The final movement is cast in march form without a break strain, with the trio utilizing the Schubert lied Am Meer as its melody. The suite was premiered on July 16, 1969, by the Goldman Band of New York for a concert celebrating Bennett’s 75th birthday.

- Program Note by Kyle Glaser

...Franz Schubert's melody Am Meer -- By the Sea is heard in the march, as it is in the opening movement of the suite. After a lengthy introduction, which sets the mood with sounds of a ship's bell, the march is rather traditional in form. In the finale, as in the beginning, Bennett makes use of a high degree of chromaticism to heighten the tension.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Heart of Texas (San Antonio) Concert Band (John Goforth, conductor) - 10 April 2022
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) North Star Campus Band (J. Nick Smith, conductor) – 24 October 2019
  • Woodcreek High School (Roseville, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Brad North) – 8 May 2019
  • Texas State University (San Marcos) Wind Symphony (Kyle R. Glaser, conductor) - 12 February 2015 (2015 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)

Works for Winds by This Composer