Two Overtures for Film

From Wind Repertory Project
Gerard Schurmann

Gerard Schurmann (trans. Jack Stamp)

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General Info

Year: 1957 / 1967 / 2021
Duration: c. 7:16
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. Main Title, Attack on the Iron Coast (1967) – 3:20
2. Overture, Man in the Sky (1957) – 3:34


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

When Jack Stamp came to see my husband, the composer Gerard Schurmann, at his home in the Hollywood Hills of California, they got on like a house on fire. Just as Jack was leaving, Gerard showed him a piece of music and asked if Jack could look at it with a view to transcribing the overture for wind band. It was a genre for which Gerard had never attempted to write, even though he loved the brass bands and wind bands that he heard after coming to live in the United States. The work in question was an overture that Gerard had fashioned from his score for a 1967 film called Attack on the Iron Coast about a daring assault on the German-occupied French coast during World War II, starring Lloyd Bridges as a hotheaded commando leader. Gerard’s stark orchestral music for the main titles with its soaring, heroic theme had originally appeared on a United Artists 45-rpm single with Bernard Herrmann’s music from François Truffaut’s film The Bride Wore Black on the other side.

His concert overture was subsequently published by Novello & Co. under the title Attack and Celebration after he introduced lighter music from another film at its central point. For Jack, however, he suggested looking only at the “Attack” section, eliminating the Prokofiev-inspired “Celebration” part of the score. For a time, Jack pondered how he could make the transcription and do justice in particular to the surging theme that Gerard had scored for high strings. Then, it suddenly came to him, and, as you will hear, his effective solution contains all the power and majesty of the orchestral version while adding its own extra dynamic punch.

While Jack was pondering how to transcribe Attack on the Iron Coast for wind band, I sent him another concert overture of Gerard’s taken from a 1957 film about aeronautical flight called Man in the Sky, a classic Ealing Studios production starring Jack Hawkins and directed by Charles Crichton. Jack found the work appealing, particularly obbligato sections at the beginning and end for three trumpets in C heralding the sheer exuberance of flying, while an airy melody in counterpoint evokes the freedom of the skies.

Following the trumpet obbligato’s first appearance, stark, angular scoring suggests fierce turbulence buffeting the plane. A brief reflective intermezzo follows, leading again to music expressing the exhilaration of soaring heavenward. Jack set to work transcribing Man in the Sky first, and, having completed it, found the way to proceed with Attack on the Iron Coast.

Unfortunately, Gerard died in 2020 at the age of 96 before he could listen to either of Jack’s masterful transcriptions. I know that he would have been thrilled to hear them and have felt honored by Jack’s tribute to his music.

- Program Note by Carolyn Schurmann


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Orchestra (Andrew Trachsel, conductor) - 21 October 2021 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer