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Three City Blocks

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John Harbison

John Harbison

General Info

Year: 1993
Duration: 15:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: G. Schirmer
Cost: Score & Parts - Rental   |   Score Only - $25.00


1. Fervent and Resolute - 6:37
2. Tough, Driving - 4:18
3. With Relentless Energy - 4:03


Full Score
Flute I-II-III-IV (III and IV doubling Piccolo)
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II (II doubling Contrabassoon)
Eb Soprano Clarinet I-II
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
Bb Bass Clarinet I-II (II doubles Bb Contrabass Clarinet)
Alto Saxophone I-II
Tenor Saxophone I-II
Trumpet (in Bb) I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
Euphonium I-II
Tuba I-II
String Bass I-II
Timpani (doubling Rain Machine and 2 Steel Plates)
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Brake Drum
  • Cowbells (4)
  • Crotales
  • Cymbal (crash)
  • Cymbal (4 suspended)
  • Drumset
  • Field Drum
  • Gong (pitched in E or B)
  • Maracas
  • Marimba
  • Police Whistles (2)
  • Siren
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Temple Blocks (4)
  • Tom-Toms (2)
  • Triangle (3)
  • Vibraphone
  • Woodblock
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Over the radio, in the early fifties, came sounds played by bands in hotels and ballrooms, now distant memories that seemed to a seventh-grade, small-town, late-night listener like the true pulse of giant imagined cities.

Years later, these sounds -- layered with real experience of some of their places of origin: magnified, distorted, idealized and destabilized -- came into contact with other sounds, some of recent origin, and resulted in these celebratory, menacing, Three City Blocks, completed in the fall of 1991 at Nervi, near Genoa, on the Mediterranean coast of Italy.

Three City Blocks was commissioned by the wind ensembles of the New England Conservatory, the University of Cincinnati, Florida State University, Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Southern California, and The United States Air Force Band.

- Program Note by composer

Commercial Discography

Audio Links

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 21 February 2020
  • Oklahoma State University (Stillwater) Wind Ensemble (Joseph Missal, conductor) – 18 February 2020
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 30 September 2016
  • Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisc.) Wind Ensemble (Andrew Mast, conductor) – 11 March 2016
  • Indiana State (Terre Haute) Wind Orchestra (Roby George, conductor) – 25 February 2016 (CBDNA 2016 North Central Division Conference, Ames Iowa)
  • Hodgson Winds (University of Georgia, Athens) (Cynthia Johnston Turner, conductor) – 6 October 2015

Works for Winds by this Composer


  • Harbison, J. (1993). Three City Blocks: For Wind Ensemble [score]. Associated Music Publishers: New York.
  • Miles, Richard, compiler and editor. (2002). Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. Volume 4. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 924–934.
  • Scott, Judson. (2003). "John Harbison" from A Composer's Insight, Volume One." Galesville, MD: Meredith Music.
  • Spittal, Robert Joseph. (1995). “Three City Blocks by John Harbison.” D.M.A. dissertation. University of Cincinnati. Abstract: Dissertation Abstracts International 56(7) (January 1996): 2479-A; University Microfilms International no. 95-38265.
  • Wagner, Alan D. (1994). “An analysis of John Harbison’s Three City Blocks.” Ph.D. dissertation. Tallahassee: Florida State University.