Symphony for Band
by Vincent Persichett

Vincent Persichett (1915 – 1987) : Composer

• born in Philadelphia (June 6).• was the oldest of three children.• began piano lessons at age 5.• started college classes in music theory at age 9.• at 14, gave his first public performance of his own original work.• played tuba and double bass, earning first chair in the Philadelphia All High School Orchestra.• at 20, received a Bachelor of Music degree from Combs Conservatory in Philadelphia, then joined its faculty as orchestra conductor.• at 25, earned his Master’s degree from the Philadelphia Conservatory as a

piano scholarship student.• married at age 25, having met his wife (Dorothea) as a graduate student.

• first child (daughter Lauren) was born two years later; son Garth came two years after her.• at age 27, became head of the composition department at the Philadelphia Conservatory.• his compositions began earning recognition and prizes before he reached the age of 30.• at 47, became head of the composition department at Julliard.• received numerous commissions for works, more than 8 honorary degrees, three Guggenheim Fellowships, two grants from the National Foundations on the Arts and Humanities, and a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. around the age of 71, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.• died at home in Philadelphia, aged 72 years (August 14).

Year of Composition: 1958

Publisher: Elkan-Vogel, Inc.

Grade: 6

Type of composition: Symphony for Band I. Adagio-Allegro II. Adagio sostenuto III. Allegretto IV. Vivace

Style: 1. Introduction, Sonata form II. Slow based on Round Me Falls the Night III. Trio IV. Free Rondo

Programming suggestions: Washington University of St. Louis commissioned this work which was premiered in March 1956 at the Music Educators National Conference. It was an immediate success and quickly became a standard part of the band literature. The following is quoted from Band Music Notes by Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire, 1989:

The four movements have forms with traditional implications. The opening horn call and a following scale-wise passage of the slow introduction section become the two principal themes, in reverse order, in the subsequent Allegro, which includes the standard exposition, development, and recapitulation of sonata form although the traditional key relationships are not completely retained. The slow second movement is based on “Round Me Falls the Night” from the composer’s Hymns and Responses for the Church Year. The third movement, in trio form, serves as the traditional dance movement, and is followed by a finale in free rondo form, which draws thematic material from the preceding movements.

Solo or exposed instruments: Horn, Tuba, flute, oboe, alto saxophone, percussion, cornet, clarinet

Anecdotal notes: Numerous meter and tempo changes. Percussion parts cannot be played by only one percussionist. Mutes required in trumpets, horn, euphonium, and tuba. A few heimola sections. Strong sections are required to fill in all voices. Timpani must be able to change pitches mid-movement. Good intonation required by second movement. Must have good dynamic contrast to have full effect of music. Stylistic changes occur in middle of sections. Extreme ranges required by all parts in most instrument families. Has Cornet and Trumpet parts. Eb Clarinet parts can be optional, but not recommended. 1st and 2nd parts and contrast greatly. Endurance is a factor with the piece.

Discography: Eastman Wind Ensemble – Fennell Conducts Grainger, Persichetti, & Others 8912836AW Mercury Records

Recording of "Symphony for Band"