Please DONATE to help with maintenance and upkeep of the Wind Repertory Project!

Symphony for Drums and Wind Orchestra

From Wind Repertory Project
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Warren Benson

Warren Benson

General Info

Year: 1963
Duration: 21:55
Difficulty: V+ (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Edition Peters
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental   |   Score Only - $24.00

Movements (played without pause)

1. Invocation - 4:45
2. Contemplation - 8:55
3. Declaration - 7:45


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet
C Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone I-II
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Field Drum
  • Gong
  • Sleigh Bells
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tom-Tom
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Benson wrote Symphony for Drums and Wind Orchestra while living in San Miguel, Mexico, a period when he got really hooked on composing. He became intensely involved in writing the composition, in the first movement, as “I wanted to see if I could make a whole movement work based on two pitches. A and B-flat.” The great variety achieved with the treatment of this semi-tone is largely due to the creative orchestration and imaginative use of percussion.

According to Benson, “the second movement is actually a big lyrical piece, in a sense. It is based on very simple material, ostinato, and canons with improvisational development. The development is more casual, subtle, and inflective rather than substantive.” The movement is woven with a simple three-measure, six-note theme in Aeolian mode that is a study in compositional economy. Paraphrasing the passacaglia variation technique, there are thirty continuous statements of the melody surrounded by increasing harmonic sonorities structured on the same six tones. It leads to a central climax of massive proportions before receding quietly.

The final movement stresses the crucial semi-tone of the first movement and expands it to a whole step before its ultimate resolution to the pitch A. It begins and ends with percussion alone. The elements of the semi-tone are present, but gradually the whole-step and finally full harmonics appear, while potent sources of jazz in the rhythmic superstructure hold sway. The work ends with percussion moving into silence.

- Program Note by John Paynter

For William MacLean for the American Wind Symphony (Robert Boudreau, conductor).

- Program Note from Warren Benson website


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Benson, W. (1963). Symphony: For Drums and Wind Orchestra [score]. Peters: New York.

[Category: 1963]]