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Sun Paints Rainbows on the Vast Waves

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David Bedford

David Bedford

General Info

Year: 1984
Duration: c. 13:30
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Novello & Company
Cost: Score and Parts - $150.00


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
Cornet (in B-flat) I-II-III
Trumpet (in B-flat) I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal, small and medium
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tenor Drum
  • Wine Bottles, tuned (2)
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Sun Paints Rainbows on the Vast Waves was commissioned by the Huddersfield Festival of Contemporary Music in 1984. The composer writes:

The title comes from a jotting in Coleridge’s notebook during the period when he was working on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and is a reference to a passage which the poet had read in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. This was a letter from a Father Bourzes, of which the pertinent paragraph reads: “I shall add an Observation more concerning Marine Rainbows, which I observed after a great Tempest off of the Cape of Good Hope. The Sea was then very much tossed, and the Wind carrying off the Tops of the Waves made a kind of Rain, in which the Rays of the Sun painted the Colours of a Rainbow.” (Italics and capitals in original.) It is this evocative description that provided the stimulus for this composition and influences the feeling and atmosphere of its sound- world.

- Program Note by David Bedford


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Victoria Wind Symphony and The Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy (Victoria, BC) (Catherine Norris, conductor) - 7 February 2020
  • Triangle Wind Ensemble (Cary, N.C.) (Evan Feldman, conductor) – 19 November 2019
  • University of Toronto (Ont., Can.) Wind Ensemble (Gillian MacKay, conductor) - 1 December 2018
  • Treasure Coast Wind Ensemble (Vero Beach, Fla.) (Colbert Page Howell, conductor) - 8 June 2018
  • Nazareth College (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Symphony (Jared Chase, conductor) - 12 April 2015

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Bedford, D. (1984). Sun Paints Rainbows on the Vast Waves [score]. Novello: Borough Green, Kent, U.K.
  • Girsberger, Russ. Percussion Assignments for Band & Wind Ensemble. Volume I: A-K. Galesburg, MD: Meredith Music Publications, 2004, 26. Print.