The five most influential brass pieces

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Dave Payn, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    What brass works (band, ensemble, duet, solo etc.) have been most influential on you in your playing or indeed listening 'career'? What pieces have say, changed your approach to playing, conducting, or simply opened your eyes to a new world in the world of brass. Here's my list.

    In no particular order:

    Tameside Overture (Philip Sparke). The first piece I ever played in a brass band contest. I honestly can't remember what the result was but we certainly worked on it in detail!

    Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky arr. Howarth) Opened the door to a wave of orchestral arrangements and just what was possible on brass instruments. More challenging stuff has been produced since, but in my view, this set the standard for widening the boundaries of what was possible, for both brass ensembles and brass bands, both in composition and arranging. I've been fortunate enough to play this (well, the brass ensemble version. haven't played the band version!) and it's even more enjoyable to be a part of than to listen to!

    Variations on a Rococo Theme (Tchaikovsky - as performed by the Russian trumpeter Sergei Nakariakov - on the album No Limit). Stretched the boundaries of what was previously possible on a flugehorn, both in technique and range. The album title sums it up perfectly

    An Epic Symphony (Percy Fletcher) The first piece I ever conducted in a contest (what a scary start!) and one that has stayed with me ever since. Still a classic, still a test for most bands, and for amateur conductors like me, a b*gger to pull off!

    Resurgam (Eric Ball). Although Tameside Overture was the first band piece I played in a contest, the Crystal palace Band who I was playing with at the time, hadn't contested for the best part of 10 years and under its then conductor, Allan Wilson, worked intermittently and then solidly over a two year period to get this piece up to performance standard, eventually taking it to the contest stage (and getting, if I remember, a creditable 3rd place in an own choice contest). It was the band's 'goal' to get it back on the nitty gritty of the contesting trail and each rehearsal revealed something new about this marvellous work. Even now, almost 20 years later, I never tire of this piece and still find new listening 'rewards'. A veritable 'legend' of a musical work.

    So... they're my five. What about you?
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2004
  2. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    For me, in no order:

    Pagannini Variations - the first test piece I had ever heard. Blown away by Grimethorpes performance on the CD of the same name. Didn't think a band coud sound like that till then! Special also as I got my first contest win (in my 2nd ever contest) on it, at the Senior Cup last year.

    Contest Music - Just awesome music. I gather one or two bands are playing it at some crummy little contest at the weekend?!

    Various works from the YBS 'Essays' series, On Ratcliff Highway, The Lord is King etc - Growing up in the SA, I always knew these pieces well and heard them played to a very high standard but hearing the YBS versions shone a whole new light on them and that really developed my interest in contest banding.

    Princethorpe Variations - One of Ken Downie's earlier works. I remember my corps/church band play this when I was about 10 and just remember thinking how clever it was to make a big piece out of a little tune! Fantastic recording of the Canadian Staff Band performing this work on the CD 'Sounds of Joy'.

    Brass Ensemble transcription by Eric Cree of the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story - My brother used to listen to the LSO Brass recording of this none stop and subsequently I heard it through my wall! Had never heard orchestral brass before but was blown away by some of the playing. Maurice Murphy, Ian Bousfield, Rod Franks, James Watson all perform on disc and it's very special playing.
  3. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    Hmmm... time to put some thought in...

    1) Minuano (Pat Metheny arr. someone else) - One of the first pieces I played after joining my first band and probably what got me hooked. A great piece of music, and we had some awesome soloists at the time!

    2) Cry of the Celts - My favourite suite-type-thing I ever played. I just loved it! Also, still had the awesome soloists, which helped!

    3) DL Blues - The first trombone solo I heard with a band. Made me go home and practice like mad after hearing it!!

    4) Purcell Variations - The first test piece I ever played. Caused me to go home and practice again!

    5) Kaleidoscope - My first area piece. It was all a very strange experience for me!!
  4. fitzy

    fitzy Active Member

    My top five would be:

    Paganini. The first major work I ever played. Magnificent music.

    German Brass playing "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" Bach. If you have heard it you will know.

    Philip Jones Brass Ensemble playing "Earl of Oxford's March". John Fletcher is one of the all time greats and the playing from the whole group is awesome.

    Niklas Eklund playing the Telemann Concerto No1. I have never heard such a beautiful sond from a brass instrument let alone a natural trumpet!

    John Williams Olympic Fanfare '92 played by Black Dyke at the British Open Gala Concert. I only got to hear a recording but it blew me away with the sound and quality they produced.

    I Have more! (Tristan Encounters and Chivalry, Tallis Variations, Harmony Music, Tryptich) I had better stop now!
  5. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Indeed, I could list another 30 at least! ;-)
  6. fitzy

    fitzy Active Member

    Have you heard German Brass? They are mindblowing!!
  7. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Not for a while. I bought a CD of theirs which included an arrangement of Philip Sparke's Jubilee Overture (a tone higher than the brass band version) some years back and I have to say, I wasn't over impressed....
  8. fitzy

    fitzy Active Member

    Get a hold of their recordings of Bach stuff. They are amazing!
  9. jpbray

    jpbray Member

    I don't know about my five most influential brass pieces, but one thing that does it for me are some of the hymns out of the "red book", when the band gets it together with intonation, dynamics and tempo etc.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2004
  10. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    This is a tough one cos I have so many..... and I cant give much explaination of why I've chosen these either; and its not just from a player, conductor and listener point of view... but also from a composers ear as well...
    Just hearing them is enough... (played 4 of 5... although may be playing the fifth soon :lol: and conducted all of them in my own time :p :lol: )

    1) Oceans
    2) Labour and Love
    3) Tristan Encounters
    4) Harrisons Dream
    5) Year of the Dragon

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2004
  11. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    'Pagannini Variations' for me as well. It was the test piece that got me into banding. Although I had been playing for a good few years (and I did enjoy it) the basis of the interest I had certainly was due to the social side of the band rather than the playing itself. I can't even remember what the contest was or which band was playing! I just remember thinking it was just fantastic and it was a massive influence on me becoming the banding BOC I am today :rolleyes:
  12. Hornblower RN

    Hornblower RN Member

    Spectrum...made the audience sit up in Pontypridd when Cory played it circa 1970 when I first heard it.
    Cloudcatcher Fells favourite to play and Dyke's winning performance in the RAH 1985
    Harmony Music...fantastic sounds especially the start.
    The year of the dragon...Brittannia's winning performance in 1992 in St David's Hall Cardiff.
    Dances and Arias ...Cory's performance in the RAH in 1984 ...most excited I have been in a contest audience.
    This list could go on and on!
  13. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    James Cook Circumnavigator - the first test piece I played as a prelude to going to a contest. As an 18 year old new to the Newham Band, I found it mindblowing that I could play the Bb parts and the Eb players couldn't play theirs. This was my first experience of preparing for a contest, and it's still the aspect of banding that I like best.

    Malvern Suite - my first Sparke adventure.

    Resurgam - I want to hear a band play it well at a contest - it hasn't happened yet...

    The Shipbuilders - I could play this over and over again, I love it. The first movement (after the intro) is engrained in my brain to the extent that I can pick 132 bpm without fail, a useful tool as a sometime conductor.

    Lastly, Partita by Edward Gregson. Not because of the music, but the fact that it was trotted out again last year has made me redouble my efforts to write and get new music into the contest arena.

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2004
  14. buttrumpet

    buttrumpet New Member

    The last 5 times Becontree Brass qualified for the nationals (6 in total) will be my choice, its nice to remember the pieces that have moved us up the ranks :-

    Birmingham 4th - Fall of the Year
    Harrogate 4th - A Caledonian Story
    Preston 3rd - English Suite
    Torquay 3rd - Danceries
    Harrogate 2nd - Chaucers Tunes
  15. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    I've got more than five!!! But if I had to choose five, this is what they would be:
    1) Toccata - Oh, the Blessed Lord (Heaton)
    2) Paganini Variations (Wilby)
    3) Resurgam (Ball)
    4) Cloudcatcher Fells (McCabe)
    5) Montage (Graham)
  16. Tone deaf and mute

    Tone deaf and mute New Member

    Surely the most influential brass piece has to be The Floral Dance, even if it is for all the wrong reasons! No one piece of music has brought brass bands to the attention of the public as much as that one.....
  17. backrowbloke

    backrowbloke Member

    For me it is....(in no particular order, but sentimental value :) )

    1) Journey into Freedom
    Won areas in '91 with it & was closest I think any band i've played with has ever got to a perfect performance

    2) Of Men & Mountains
    I think the best contest performance I've ever given

    3) Pagannini Variations (seems popular!)
    Favourite test piece that I've played

    4) Middle movement from Royal Parks
    Very moving

    5) Little Suite for Brass
    Forst piece I ever played in a proper band, in '82, with Langley Juniors
  18. BbBill

    BbBill Supporting Member

    V hard, lots and lots to choose from, well in no order here goes!

    Pagannini (brilliant, played couple of times at nybbs, wish our band could play it....!)

    Resurgam (Trevor Warmsley told us if nobody clapped straight away at the end of the piece, we'd played brilliant and we'd win the contest we were at, sure enough that happened + our euph got best soloist, a v special moment after all the work put in)

    Holy war (can listen to YBS playing it over and over!)

    Angels watching over me (SA red book, played it at Mull of Kintyre Chinook Memorial service a few weeks after it happened, clouds opened up and sun shone halfway through it, another special & v moving moment, had trouble trying to play!):cry:

    I know thou art mine-SA song setting(sit back, close your eyes and listen, magic everytime!)
  19. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    That's for a potential separate thread.

    'What piece of music could influence you to jack in brass bands altogether?' ;-)
  20. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Knight Templar
    As a kid I once stood between Dyke's second cornet players, late at night on Whit Friday in Delph. I'll never forget that sound.

    Grimethorpe Aria
    Opened my ears to the world of contemporary music; thank you Mr Howarth.

    Just as I Am
    Wilfred Heaton has been an inspiration.

    New Jerusalem
    My favourite piece by Philip Wilby - not so tuneful as later works but full of energy and drive.

    Tallis Variations
    Wonderful sounds from Philip Sparke - continuing the best traditions of English music. Also my most recent contest success!