There Was a Composer of Genius
Subtitle: A Whimsical Celebration of Four American Composers
1. Bernstein - 2:30
2. Ives - 2:35
3. Ellington - 2:27
4. Sousa - 3:26
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 Cornet I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
(percussion detail desired)
None discovered thus far.
There Was a Composer of Genius was written to honor four towering figures in American music: Leonard Bernstein, Charles Ives, Duke Ellington and John Philip Sousa. Each of these composers has a distinctive voice in his own particular genre.
Leonard Bernstein's genius allowed him to compose fluently not only for the concert stage, but also for film, dance, and musical theater. Known by most everyone for his popular musical West Side Story, Bernstein was equally adept at incorporating jazz and more traditional "classical" styles into his music. He was also famous worldwide as a conductor, pianist and music educator.
Of the four composers, Charles Ives was the least well known during his lifetime, writing music in a style that had never been heard before. His many innovations, such as combining well known melodies simultaneously in different keys and meters, using notes that are in between the keys you find on the piano, and other wildly experimental techniques, made him a target of critics and public audiences for the few works that were publicly performed during his lifetime. He wrote almost all of his music before he was thirty, and much of it was not heard by others until late in his life or after his death.
Duke Ellington is remembered primarily as the world's preeminent composer for the jazz orchestra, now commonly referred to as the big band. His talent as a composer and charisma as a band leader attracted some of the very best jazz musicians of his day to play in his ensembles. You'll hear references to two of those players, saxophonist Johnny Hodges and trumpeter "Bubber" Miley, in one of the limericks.
John Philip Sousa ("The March King") made his mark by solidifying the form of the military or patriotic march. Like Ellington, he traveled widely throughout America and abroad as a leader of his own band, playing well over 15,000 concerts! The band premiered most of Sousa's marches, many of which have become standards of the repertoire for wind ensembles throughout the world.
In creating this work, I have enjoyed combining my profession as a writer of music with my hobby as a writer of limericks, a habit I got into when my daughters were younger and we traded them back and forth when email came into our lives. Each movement is preceded by two limericks about the composer, pointing out one or more features of his style which are then mirrored in the music to follow, along with a few well-known musical quotations. During the final movement, the band has a little fun with one of the more popular aspects of Sousa's most famous march.
This composition was performed by thirty high school, college, community and military bands in 2010-2011, about half of these performances in the state of Minnesota. I was fortunate to assemble this consortium as a result of a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.
It is my hope not only that you will be entertained and educated by what you hear in the limericks and music, but that your curiosity might be sparked to seek out the actual music of these composers for your listening enjoyment.
Each movement is preceded by two limericks:
His mind was crammed full of things sonic,
His youthful ambition was chronic,
His fame came alive
When at twenty five
He led the New York Philharmonic!
This genius we fondly call Lenny
His heart soared with music a plenty
The concert band knows
To be on its toes -
Those changes of meter, so many!
His list'ners could become quite furious,
To critics he was all impervious.
Ives brushed them aside
Made two tunes collide
Now that's when the audience gets nervous!
Traditional rules don't apply.
"I don't understand it!", we cry.
Yet we must agree
Ives turned out to be
More famous than you or than I.
Jazz orchestra, that was his thing,
Composing for them he was king.
He'd jive and he'd juke
And thus said the Duke:
"It don't mean a thing without swing."
His players were none but the best,
Their solos: a creative quest!
Ol' Hodges would howl,
and Bubber could growl
Head and shoulders above all the rest!
A band leader, John Philip Sousa
Was truly in touch with his musa.
His bold archetype:
The Stars and the Stripes.
It's music you just can't refusa!
America thinks highly of him,
For bands there is no one above him;
John Sousa's the name,
the march king of fame,
And piccolo players just love him!
- Program Note by Daniel Kallman
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Sacramento Symphonic Winds (Lester E. Lehr, conductor) - 6 April 2013 (ACB’s 35th Annual Convention (San Ramon, Calif.))
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Alyeska: The Great Land
- An American Jubilee
- An American Tapestry (2003)
- Fantasia Variations on "Eternal Alleluias" (1995)
- Galop (2015)
- The Groundhog's Lament (2004)
- A Halama Christmas (2004)
- The Jig Is Up (2003)
- March Emeritus
- Metamorphosis (1986/2005)
- Overture from "Yankee Doodling"
- Promenade and Galop
- Sea Creatures
- Streets of Honor
- There Was a Composer of Genius
- The Vanishing Snows of Kilimanjaro
- A Visit With Old Joe
- Yankee Doodling: A Young Person's Guide to the Concert Band
None discovered thus far.