Program Notes: Magnificent Brass

Written by Kimberley Manerikar

Fanfare for the Common Man
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Fanfare for the Common Man was written in 1942 and premiered in 1943 as a commission for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Eugene Goossens.  Goossens had a popular tradition of opening wartime orchestral concerts with fanfares—a tradition he started in WWI with commissions by British composers, and continued in WWII with commissions by Americans.  None of the other commissions has enjoyed a comparable legacy to Copland’s; this iconic piece has been used to commemorate solemn occasions, has appeared in television and on film, and has even been heard in space.

Canzon duodecimi toni
(arr. King)
Giovanni Gabrieli (ca. 1554/7-1612)

Giovanni Gabrieli was an Italian composer and organist at the Bascilica San Marco in Venice at the end of the Renaissance.  While many of his contemporaries were known to write in a variety of different genres and styles, Gabrieli’s output was almost exclusively vocal and instrumental church music.  His Canzon duodecimi toni appears in his collection Sacrae symphoniae of 1597 and is written for two brass choirs performing antiphonally—alternating, as if in dialogue with one another.  Many of his works employed this technique, exploiting the spacious architecture of the basilica.  This arrangement for brass ensemble is by Robert King.

Bruckner Et
üde für das tiefe blech
Enrique Crespo (b. 1941)

Enrique Crespo is a trombonist, composer and arranger.  Born in Uruguay, trained in Argentina, and active in Germany for most of his career, Crespo is best known for combining classical, jazz and popular idioms in his compositions and arrangements.  His Bruckner Etüde für das tiefe blech was written as an homage to composer Anton Bruckner.

Divertimento for Brass and Percussion
Karel Husa (1921-2016)

Born in Prague with education in Prague and in Paris, Karel Husa achieved international recognition for his String Quartet No. 1, premiered in Paris in 1948.  A few years later Husa relocated to the USA, where he taught composition, conducting and orchestration on faculty at Cornell University from 1954 to 1992.  He received several prestigious awards for his work including two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Pulitzer Prize (for his String Quartet No. 3) and the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition (for his Concerto for Cello and Orchestra).  His Divertimento for Brass and Percussion was adapted in 1958, early in his tenure at Cornell, from his Eight Czech Duets for piano four hands.  The original pieces were written for his daughters as a tribute to their Czech heritage.  His adaptation for brass and percussion is in four short movements that showcase Czech melodies and rhythms in a distinctly contemporary context.  Husa’s orchestration utilizes the distinct colours of the ensemble to dazzling effect.

Ich ruf zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639
(arr. Crespo)
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

Ich ruf zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639 was published in Bach’s Orgelbüchlein (1713–15); a set of 45 chorale preludes for organ in which one contrapuntal part, set against the cantus firmus (main melody), continuously elaborates on a single independent musical motive.  This arrangement for double brass quintet is by Enrique Crespo.

(arr. Frackenpohl)
Charles Theodore Pachelbel (1690-1750)

Charles Theodore Pachelbel, son of Johann Pachelbel, was a German organist, harpsichordist, composer and teacher of the late Baroque period and one of the first European composers to settle in the American colonies.  Few of his works survive, but among them is his Magnificat for double choir, written in Germany under the tutelage of his father.  This arrangement for double brass quintet is by Arthur Frackenpohl.

Canzona per sonare No. 2
(arr. King)
Giovanni Gabrieli (ca. 1554/7-1612)

Canzona per sonare No. 2 appears in a collection of 36 Canzoni per sonare by Giovanni Gabrieli, Girolamo Frescobaldi, and others, published in 1608.  Written on the threshold of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, these works were remarkable in that they were specifically designated as instrumental (rather than vocal) compositions, and they were early precursors of the Baroque concerto style.  This arrangement for brass ensemble is by Robert King.