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Don Gillis

Don Gillis (trans. Maurice Ford)

Subtitle: A Symphonic Portrait in Oil

General Info

Year: 1957
Duration: c. 10:00
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Ludwig Masters
Cost: Score and Parts - $90.00   |   Score Only - $12.00

For additional availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
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
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • Cowbell
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong
  • Iron Plate
  • Police Whistle
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Temple Blocks
  • Triangle
  • Tom-Tom
  • Vibraphone
  • Woodblock
  • Xylophone


In Score and Parts:

  • Percussion II. Part calls for "gun shots" in instrumentation, but there is no indication when to play them in the score or part.

Program Notes

Tulsa was commissioned by the First National Bank and Trust Co. of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for H. Arthur Brown and the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra. The score was completed July 7, 1950. Gillis describes the composition as follows:

Tulsa is a symphonic poem in four sections, the first of which is a pastoral movement depicting the land before the settling of the white man. This moves without pause into a rather violent struggle for possession of the land. This struggle, filled with the energy and passion of frontier civilization, ends in victory as the land is transformed from wilderness to homestead and thence to a modern city. The third movement attempts to ‘bring in’ an oil well, and is graphic in its portrayal of the violence of a ‘gusher.’ The final section is a celebration in which the whole population joins in a shirttail parade and square dance in the street.

- Program Notes from Program Notes for Band

The First National Bank of Tulsa, Oklahoma, commissioned Tulsa, a Symphonic Portrait in Oil to be played at the opening of their new bank building at the dedication ceremony on July 29, 1950. It is dedicated to the bank and to conductor H. Arthur Brown of the Tulsa Philharmonic. Mr. Brown recorded this work with the Vienna Philharmonic and almost started World War III as a result.

There is a section in Tulsa calling for gun shots. Mr. Brown had gone to the provost-general’s office in Vienna to get permission to fire blank cartridges during the recording session. Vienna at that time was still an occupied territory and the Brahms Hall was right across the street from the Russian command. When the musicians arrived on the morning of the recording session, they noticed a number of tanks and mobile artillery armored cars lined up -- all with their guns pointing at the hall. In a panic, lest the noise of the blank cartridges lead the Russians to think that they were under attack, the poor musicians begged the conductor not to fire the guns. He complied -- thus probably averting World War III for a few years.

- Program Note by the Brentwood Concert Band


State Ratings

  • Kansas: V
  • Louisiana: V
  • Minnesota: I
  • North Carolina: VI
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Tennessee: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Mid America Freedom Band (Kansas City, Mo.) (Lee Hartman, conductor) – 17 October 2021
  • University of Jamestown (N.D.) Wind Ensemble (Laura Lynch, conductor) – 27 April 2019
  • Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble (Hampton, Va.) (William Garlette, conductor) – 8 March 2019
  • Encore Concert Band (Mokena, Ill.) (William Schuetter, conductor) – 21 October 2018
  • Phoenix (NY) Community Concert Band (Ronald D. Nuzzo, conductor) – 15 May 2017
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Symphonic Winds (Gavin Smith, conductor) – 23 September 2016
  • Contra Costa Wind Symphony (Walnut Creek, Calif.) (Brad Hogarth, conductor) – 6 March 2016
  • Brentwood (Calif.) Concert Band (Susan Stuart, conductor) - 7 February 2015
  • Peninsula Symphonic Band (Palo Alto, Calif.) (Ted Henderson, conductor) - 23 November 2014
  • Rocky Mountain Wind Symphony (Colorado Springs, Co. (Kenneth P. Soper, conductor) - 2013

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Gillis, D.; Ford, M. (1957). Tulsa: A Symphonic Portrait in Oil [score]. Mills Music: New York
  • Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music. "Tulsa." Accessed 29 November 2014.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 229-230