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Washington Grays (ed Fennell)

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Claudio Grafulla

Claudio Grafulla (arr. Reeves; ed. Frederick Fennell)

This title is also spelled "Washington Greys."

General Info

Year: c. 1856 / 1982
Duration: c. 4:20
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above).


Full Score
C Piccolo/Flute
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra Alto Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III-IV
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Field Drum
  • Snare Drum


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Dedicated to Jon Newsom, Chief of the Music Division, Library of Congress

- Program Note from score

The best-known of the many compositions and arrangements for military band by Claudio S. Grafulla that he wrote between 1838 and 1870, the march Washington Greys is still played by bands throughout the world. Washington Greys was composed sometime prior to 1852 for the 8th Regiment, New York National Guard, and is considered one of the finest American contributions to military band literature. Its actual composition date is clouded in obscurity, as no editions of this march published in either band or piano versions prior to 1900 exist.

The 8th New York was created on 1 May 1784, when a company of militia artillery was organized in New York City by Capt. Jacob Sebring. After marching in George Washington's inaugural parade on 30 April 1789 the company adopted the name "Washington Grays." On 22 March 1809 this company became part of Maj. Martin Boerum's battalion of artillery. This later became part of the 4th Regiment of New York State Artillery, which was redesignated the 3rd Regiment of New York State Artillery in 1812. During the War of 1812 (1812-1815) the regiment performed fortress duty in and around New York City. The regiment continued in the militia following the war, performing routine duties during emergencies and riot. The regiment gained its present designation on 27 July 1847, when, in consequence of a major reorganization of the state militia, it was re-designated the 8th Regiment of Infantry.

During the Civil War the 8th New York was active militia on three occasions, for a total of seven months.

The earliest known arrangement of Washington Greys is found in the Manchester (NH) Brass Band hand manuscript band books (set 1), added ca. 1856, from which this edition was arranged. Yet another band arrangement of this piece can be found in the hand manuscript band books of the 26th North Carolina Band located in the Moravian Music Foundation Music Archives, although it is hard to determine the date the composition was added to these books as they were also used for many years after the end of the Civil War.

- Program Note from Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music

Washington Grays (1861) was composed for the Eighth Regiment, New York State Militia. This work has been called a march masterpiece, a band classic, and the prototype of the concert march. Showing the stylistic influence of both German and Italian marches, the march has a marvelous balance of technique and melody in a continuous flow of musical ideas. It dared to break the old formulas, however, because it has no introduction, no break strain, and no stinger. The popularity of Washington Grays is due in considerable part to its early arranger, Canadian Louis-Philippe Laurendeau (1861-1916), otherwise known by his pseudonym, G. H. Reeves.

Washington Grays is considered Grafulla’s most popular piece. The “grays” in the title refers to the color of the regimental uniforms of the Eighth Regiment, New York State Militia.

The band books of the American Civil War (including the Port Royal Band Books arranged by Grafulla) included many charts of the prolific composer’s music, including this composition. There are elements of the Italian and German marches in this march. The running sixteenth notes and responding bass voices create a wonderful counterpoint. Frederick Fennell wrote of this march, “masterfully simple, effectively contrasting, its incessant flow of musical ideas is overwhelmingly convincing. It is a march of great passion. A real indoor rouser from 1861.”

- Program Note from Illinois State University Wind Symphony concert program, 28 October 2016

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

  • Kansas: IV


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Iowa (Iowa City) Symphony Band (Richard Mark Heidel, conductor) – 15 November 2018
  • Texas Youth Wind Symphony (Austin) (Bradley Kent, conductor)– 5 March 2017
  • Gold Coast Wind Ensemble (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) (Clinton H. Dawley, conductor) - 12 June 2016
  • Parkland College (Champaign, Ill.) Concert Band (Larry Stoner, conductor) - 5 May 2016
  • Texas A&M University (College Station) Symphonic Band (Arnald D. Gabriel, conductor) – 16 April 2010

Works for Winds by this Composer