Variations for Wind Band

From Wind Repertory Project
Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams (scored by Donald Hunsberger)

General Info

Year: 1957 / 1988 / 1997
Duration: c. 13:50
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Brass band
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts - $170.00   |   Score Only - $17.50


Full Score
Piccolo (doubling flute)
Flute I-II-III (III doubling Alto Flute)
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Piccolo Trumpet I-II
B-flat Flugelhorn I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Celesta
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Triangle
  • Xylophone


  • Substantial errata from the 1988 edition are included here.

Program Notes

The great British brass band tradition has been fostered since 1860 by an annual competition for bands. Originally held in the Crystal Palace (until that edifice burned in the 1930s), it is a major event at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Each year there is a new test piece, required of all bands, and in 1957 Ralph Vaughan Williams (by then a revered, grandfatherly figure in British music) was finally persuaded to write a composition for that purpose.

The composition comprises a theme and 11 variations in a variety of moods and styles, including a waltz, a polonaise, a chorale, a canon, an arabesque, and a fugue.

- Program Note by Brass Band Music Shop

Ralph Vaughan Williams was commissioned to write his Variations for the 1957 National Brass Band Championship of Great Britain. The work was first transcribed for orchestra by Gordon Jacob and renamed Variations for Orchestra, and subsequently transcribed for wind band by Donald Hunsberger as Variations for Wind Band.

Vaughan Williams used the four-bar opening theme from the Variations in his Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, which he was writing concurrently. Although the theme is original, it is influenced heavily by British folk songs, which Vaughan Williams had researched extensively, as evidenced by the "sweeping lyrical lines, bold choral-like statements, florid figures, delicate intertwining solo lines, use of modal writing and harmonies, and counterpoint" that he included in the Variations.

- Program Note by Victor Markovich


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Band Class AA
  • Louisiana: V
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble (Hampton, Va.) (William Garlette, conductor) - 4 March 2023
  • Cleveland State University (Ohio) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Birch Browning, conductor) – 20 November 2022
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Orchestra (Andrew Trachsel, conductor) – 17 November 2022
  • Central Michigan University (Mt. Pleasant) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Christopher C. Chapman, conductor) – 7 April 2022 (CBDNA 2022 North Central Conference, Madison, Wisc.)
  • Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisc.) Wind Ensemble (Andrew Mast, conductor) – 19 October 2019
  • Yuetao Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Taipei, Taiwan) (Gary Brattin, conductor) - 30 March 2010

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works