Tam O'Shanter
by Arnold
arr. Paynter
Grade 6

Malcolm Arnold: composer

Arr. John Paynter

Malcolm Arnold (b. 1921) has created for himself a significant and somewhat unique position in contemporary British music. At a time when much new music is foreboding or despairing, his optimistic outlook and high spirits are the more welcome. He was born in Northampton, a town with considerable musical tradition. He studied at the Royal College of Music, where he would later return as an instructor. His list of works includes nine symphonies, twenty concertos, much chamber music, five ballets, and music for several films; he received an Oscar for his music for the 1958 film, Bridge on the River Kwai. His suites of English, Scottish, and Cornish dances are hallmarks of his repertoire. He served many years as principal trumpet player in the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Year of publication: 1991

Publisher: Fischer

Grade: 6

Type of composition: Overture

Style: slow then becoming fast

Programming suggestions: Tam O’Shanter is title and hero of a poem written by the Scottish poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796). He is a drunken farmer who, while riding home late from Ayr, in a stormy night, disturbed a witch’s party in the haunted church of Alloway. The hags pursued him to the keystone of the bridge over the river Doon, but had to stop there as they could not cross running water. One witch, however, plucked the tail from his mare, Maggie.

Solo instruments: piccolo, horn, tuba, trombone, timpani, cornet, vocal in trombone, bassoon, alto sax, clarinet, flute.

Anecdotal notes: Whip, harp, and celesta are in piece. Blank pages occur randomly through out the score. Fast chromatic runs occur in woodwinds. One section consists of trills on consecutive notes for several measures. Several meter, tempo, and key changes. Requires great dynamic control by the ensemble. Brass ranges are high in some sections and are not preceded by a run. Fast passages of non-repeating sequence of notes may prove difficult for some players. Will require good technical ability by players on every instrument. Some passages are based on unusual modes and triads.

Discography: Arnold For Band. Dallas Wind Symphony. Conductor: Jerry Junkin. Label: Reference Records

Recording of "Tam O'Shanter"