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Talk:Apothéose from "Grande Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale"

From Wind Repertory Project


The transcriber, Dr. Andrew McMahon, is currently offering this edition (full score, choral score, and all parts) free to groups who plan to perform it in the near future. You can find his contact information at

Notes on the 2014 transcription

- It is based upon the New Berlioz Edition published in 1966 (Hugh Macdonald, editor.) The goal was to only change that which was absolutely necessary in order to update the work for the modern symphonic band.

- The original version of the Apotheosis begins with a measure that ends the second movement. I removed this measure per Berlioz’s instructions when performing the Apotheosis alone. (from his letter in 1851: “I earnestly beg George Hainl not to perform the March Funebre, nor the Oraison Funebre, but to begin at the Apotheose, omitting just the chord of G major [first measure] which begins this movement and which is in fact the last chord of the preceding movement.”

- The alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone parts that I added are optional.

- The euphonium and tuba parts combine to create an equivalent to the original ophicleide parts; therefore, those should not be considered optional.

- Berlioz marked the contra bassoon and the choir parts as optional – so, I retained that indication in the score.

- The instrumentation for my edition is as follows. Anything marked as ‘unchanged’ will be almost identical to the 1966 critical edition.

o Piccolo [unchanged]

o Flute 1/2 [unchanged]

o Oboe 1/2 [unchanged]

o Eb Clarinet [unchanged]

o Bb Clarinet 1/2 [unchanged]

o Bass Clarinet [unchanged]

o Bassoons 1/2 [unchanged]

o Contra Bassoon [unchanged]

o Alto Saxophone 1/2 (opt.)

o Tenor Saxophone (opt.)

o Baritone Saxophone (opt.)

o Horns 1-6

§ The horns were originally in Eb (parts 1-2), G (parts 3-4), and F (parts 5-6). I transposed all six parts to the key of F. Also, while the music for the horn section is very much unchanged from the original, I did move a few things from one part to another in order to be more familiar to modern horn sections.

o Trumpets 1-4 [unchanged]

o Cornets 1-2 [unchanged]

o Trombones 1-3 [unchanged]

§ Both tenor and bass clef versions of the first trombone part are provided.

o Bass Trombone [unchanged]

o Euphonium

o Tuba

o Percussion [unchanged]

§ Timpani, 2 snare drums, Turkish crescent, cymbals, bass drum

- The choral parts provided with the transcription are identical to the original. I also created a separate vocal/piano score that begins 6 measures prior to the choir entrance. The piano reduction on this score is new as of this transcription and has been vetted by expert keyboard performer. This score is designed to be used by all members of the choir during rehearsal/performance.

- Some articulation markings throughout the piece were changed and some added in order to provide clarity for modern performers and to assist with rehearsal. However, they are fairly uncommon and shouldn’t really be noticeable.

- There were 3-4 instances in the critical edition in which portions of the ensemble were playing tuple rhythms versus triplet rhythms and I felt confident that this was a notation issue and not something that was intended by Berlioz. I spoke with Hugh Macdonald about and it and he agreed and basically said that the musicians of the time would have known that the rhythms should be played the same. Therefore, I made the decision in each case as to which I felt was the intention of Berlioz (it was pretty clear, in my opinion) and made those changes. Otherwise, the music (throughout the transcription) is true to the original.

- Finally, my intention was to create a “modern edition” more so than a transcription. However, I did not want to clutter up the score with additional markings to indicate where changes were made, AND I did not want to take the chance of missing something and being accused of providing an edition that was not 100% true to the original. Therefore, I decided to call it a “transcription” instead of an “edition”.

Also, I did not create the optional string parts yet. I might add those if requested by whoever is publishing the piece.

Andrew McMahan, San Luis Obispo, California, October 2014

Notes on the completed transcription (2016)

1. This version for modern wind ensemble or concert band is based upon the New Berlioz Edition (critical edition), edited by Hugh Macdonald. Every effort was made to keep it as true to the original as possible, both in how it sounds in performance as well as how the parts/score are presented/published.

2. Berlioz did not include parts for saxophone; therefore, the included parts are optional and are only provided in order to fulfill the requirements of the modern concert band/wind ensemble instrumentation. (That being said, they seemed to work very well in performance.) All other instruments marked as 'opt.' were notated as such in the original score.

3. The tuba and euphonium parts are direct replacements for the first and second ophicleide parts. Therefore, although not used by Berlioz in the original version, they should be considered as 'required' for performance of this edition.

4. The contrabassoon and bass trombone parts were both marked as optional on the original score; however, at least one is required to cover a short solo. Therefore, I have removed the 'optional' marking for the bass trombone part, since it is more commonly used.

5. Since contrabassoon is not always available, the tuba part sometimes reinforce the contrabassoon and/or bass line when the euphonium can adequately cover the ophicleide parts.

6. To help with visual clutter, the full score utilizes the same design as the critical edition in that not all triplets are marked with a number. However, in most cases, all triplets are explicitly marked in the individual instrumental parts.

7. The original first trombone part was notated primarily in tenor clef and was marked as being for 'alto or tenor trombones'. In this version, both the score and the part are in bass clef throughout.

8. The score maintains the original use of tenor clef for bassoon in some sections; however, the part is written almost entirely in bass clef.

9. All horn parts have been transposed to F.

10. There are several places in the score in which dotted eighth-sixteenth rhythms are used against a quarter/eighth triplet pattern. I feel this is most likely a notation failure on the part of the publisher at the time, so I asked Hugh Macdonald about this via email. Based on that conversation, I believe that we are both of us are of the opinion that performers at the time would have probably lined it them up as the same rhythm...probably favoring the triple rhythm. But, with the exception of one or two places towards the end, in which it simply wouldn't work to have the entire band and the entire choir singing different rhythms, I have retained the discrepancies in this version.

11. The page turns in some parts are brutal (especially the clarinet parts.) Conductors are encouraged to have most sections performing as two players per stand so that the part will remain covered as one player stops to turn the page. (One might argue that splitting sections into more parts would help with this -- for example, having four clarinet parts instead of two -- however, I wanted to maintain Berlioz's design as much as possible.)

Andrew McMahan, San Luis Obispo, California, August 2016