Slava! (arr Longfield)

From Wind Repertory Project
Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein (trans. Robert Longfield)

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Subtitle: A Concert Overture

General Info

Year: 1977 / 2018
Duration: c. 3:05
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $85.00; (digital) - $85.00   |   Score Only (print) - $10.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
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
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV

(percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

When Mstislav Rostropovich (“Slava” to his friends) invited Leonard Bernstein to help him launch his inaugural concert as Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra, he also asked him to write a rousing new opening piece for the festivities. This overture is the result, and the world premiere took place on October 11, 1977, with Rostropovich conducting his orchestra at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The first theme of Slava! is a vaudevillian razz-ma-tazz tune filled with side-slipping modulations and sliding trombones. Theme two, which prominently features the electric guitar, is a canonic tune in 7/8 time. A very brief kind of development section follows, after which the two themes recur in reverse order. Near the end they are combined with a quotation (proclaimed by the ubiquitous trombones) from the “Coronation Scene” of Mussorgsky’s Boris Goudonov, where the chorus sings the Russian word “Slava!”, meaning “glory!” In this way, of course, the composer is paying an extra four-bar homage to his friend Slava Rostropovich, to whom this overture is fondly dedicated.

- Program Note by Jack Gottlieb

For the second week of his first season as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, in October 1977, Mstislav Rostropovich invited Leonard Bernstein for a program of his own works, in which the two musicians shared the podium and Mr. Rostropovich performed also as soloist in a work composed for him. In addition to the well-known suite from the music for the movie On the Waterfront, conducted by Mr. Rostropovich, there were three premieres: Bernstein conducted his new Songfest (settings of thirteen American poems, for six solo singers and orchestra, which he recorded here following the concerts), and, with Mr. Rostropovich as soloist, Three Meditations from “Mass,” for cello and orchestra.

The third premiere, actually the work that opened the program, was the piece Bernstein composed especially for that occasion, and in fact so close to the concert date that it had to be listed in a separate insert in the program booklet: the “political overture”Slava! That title, as listeners familiar with Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov know, is the Russian word for “glory”; for that opera’s coronation scene, Mussorgsky set that word to the old traditional tune known as “the Slava,” a tune quoted earlier by Beethoven in the scherzo of his String Quartet in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2 (the second of his three “Razumovsky” quartets), and subsequently by Rimsky-Korsakov and other Russian composers. “Slava” is also a nickname given to men with such names as Miroslav, Vladyslav and Vyacheslav, and by far the best known bearer of that sobriquet is Mr. Rostropovich himself, who is “Slava” to friends, family, colleagues -- and indeed everyone who knows him or speaks of him.

That is the context in which Bernstein’s overture is titled, but there is a reference to the traditional musical “Slava” as well, very brief and in an altered rhythm, at the end of the piece. When Bernstein received our Slava’s request for a “rousing new overture,” he took his basic materials from his musical play 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which had been introduced in Philadelphia the previous year; although that show was unsuccessful, its setting seemed to point to it as an apt source for welcoming Slava to Washington, and the exuberance of the themes definitely met his expressed specification. The score is marked “Fast and flamboyant.” Jack Gottlieb, in his notes for the premiere, wrote that the first theme is “a vaudevillian razz-ma-tazz tune filled with side-slipping modulations and sliding trombones. Theme II comes from the opening of the show, a canonic tune in 7/8 time. Instead of a conventional development section, there follows another kind of development, heard on tape, which will literally speak for itself [a parody of political oratory]. The two themes recur in reverse order. Near the end of the piece the two themes are presented together with the fleeting citation of the Russian Slava theme as noted above. The other “new material” at the end is the chanting of the name “Slava” itself by members of the orchestra. The first performance of this piece, in October 1977, was actually the first world premiere Slava conducted as music director of the NSO. The Bernstein performance included in the orchestra’s 75th-anniversary set of commemorative recordings is the only item in that collection performed under a conductor who was not the orchestra’s music director.

- Program Note by Jonathan Poquette for the University of Georgia Hodgson Wind Symphony concert program, 19 September 2016

Leonard Bernstein completed this composition in 1977 with the title Slava! A Political Overture for the inaugural concerts of Mstislav Rostropovich’s first season with the National Symphony Orchestra. Clare Grundman’s transcription for band differs not only in medium and title, but also leaves out a large section of music that Bernstein provided in the orchestral version –- musical material from the beginning is repeated while a pre-recorded tape is played. The tape displayed different politicians, one after another, spouting out their political gab during their respective campaign rallies. This tape complements Bernstein’s intent to make light of a serious political atmosphere. Due to the fact that Grundman’s manuscript score includes this section and since Election Day is right around the corner, tonight’s performance will include a modern take on Bernstein’s original material.

- Program Note from Ohio State University Wind Symphony concert program, 3 November 2016


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of British Columbia (Vancouver) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Jaelem Bhate, conductor) - 16 February 2023
  • East Tennessee State University (Johnson City) Concert Band (Reilly Fox, conductor) - 1 March 2022
  • University of Louisiana Monroe Wind Ensemble (Derle R. Long, conductor) – 26 February 2019
  • VanderCook College of Music (Chicago) Symphonic Band (Stacey Larson Dolan, conductor) - 21 December 2018 (2018 Midwest Clinic)
  • Normal (Ill.) West High School Wind Ensemble (Lisa Preston, conductor) – 14 November 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • Cool (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Murtha) (1957/2018)
  • West Side Story (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Sweeney) (1957/2015)

All Wind Works