As we mentioned in our recent post, Introduce Your Young Band to Classical Literature, classical arrangements and transcriptions are generally overlooked in favor of standard marches, required adjudication selections, and the overwhelming number of excellent original works for band. While each of these components is an integral part of modern band programs and concert programming, excellent new arrangements from the classical/orchestral repertoire are also released each year. In addition to adding more variety to your concert programming, these arrangements expose your students to different stylistic periods of playing and composition, and round out their music education.
This year’s selections range from the operatic (Triumphal March from Aida) to the programmatic (Finale from Carnival of the Animals), and the impressionism of Debussy to the American expansiveness of Copland. More fantastic classical arrangements and transcriptions can be found by visiting the From the Classics link in the High School section of our Listening Library.
The Promise of Living
Aaron Copland, arr. James Curnow
James Curnow has skillfully adapted this Copland classic for younger players while maintaining its characteristic voicings and transparency. Its simple, legato, elegant opening in the woodwinds gives way to flowing triplet lines and syncopations as it gradually builds to a full climax. This moving work is a great introduction to Copland for your students and a breath of fresh air for your audience!
Claude Debussy, arr. Erik Morales
The ethereal quality of French impressionist Claude Debussy is beautifully captured in this lyrical transcription that lets your woodwinds take center stage. From plaintive to powerful, the orchestration and melodic lines often make the music sound like an epic film score.
Marche Turque/In the Village
Modeste Moussorgsky, arr. Mayhew Lake/Alex Hilliard
This 1938 publication has been updated for the modern concert band utilizing most of Mayhew Lake’s original scoring, but eliminating uncommon instruments. Stylistic variety abounds from its different march style with plenty of articulation work (trumpets), to its Middle Eastern modality and ambling tempo, and Lake’s scoring uses the wind band instrumentation to full effect.
Finale from Symphony #2 Excerpts
Jean Sibelius, arr. Larry Daehn
Sibelius’ famous “Symphony for Finland’s Struggle for Freedom” expertly arranged for concert band by Larry Daehn. It’s all here – the heroic “Big Tunes” with radiant trumpets, sonorous horns, the threatening rhythmic motif from the trombones, and the incessant foreboding ostinato.
Grade 4.5 – 5
Triumphal March from Aida
Giuseppe Verdi, arr. Douglas A. Richard
While there have been many triumphal marches written by great composers, few are as well-known as this powerful and exuberant march from Act II of Giuseppe Verdi’s 1871 grand opera, Aida. This arrangement is orchestrated to showcase the richness and capabilities of the contemporary wind band and is based on the early 20th Century setting by the famous Italian bandmaster and composer Giuseppe Creatore.
Carnival of the Animals Finale
Camille Saint-Saens, arr. Larry Daehn
This wildly hilarious classic for eleven players comes to life in this new setting for concert band or wind ensemble, arranged by Larry Daehn. Not for the timid – but if you have ‘animals’ in your band (two mallet virtuosi and wind players who get around fast and easily in the key of C) then this piece is for you. A perfect selection for encore programming!
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