Montage (Peter Graham)

I have for a long time regarded "Montage" by Peter Graham as one of my favourite works for Brass Band, particularly as it explores several compositional areas which are not generally used in most works for band. However, I recently studied Lutoslawski's "Concerto for Orchestra" and was quite surprised to realise that the first movement (Intrada) follows the exact same shape as the first movement of Montage.

I know Peter Graham inscribed the first movement of his wind band transcription of Montage (which is called "Symphony for Wind Orchestra" I think) with the phrase "hommage to Witold Lutoslawski" which of course shows the intended link between the works but, as a composition student myself, I was wondering where the line between reference and plagerism can be drawn? The similarities between the works, which are obviously intended, are very close with the form, structure, rhythmic shape and even harmonies being identical in places (there are several direct quotes taken from the Intrada) but it was only by listening to the two works that I realised this!

I'm curious how other composers feel about this use of quotation and reference - a collegue of mine got into great trouble with publishers in the past because he directly quoted some material from Berio so I can see how this issue could be a bit touchy!


Yeh, I know the Lutoslawski well and it cheesed me off when I played Montage. Tis a shame that the inscription was 'missing' off the brass band score - Lutoslawski was a hell of a composer and more people should go and listen to his work.

The piece that is currently upsetting my musical tastebuds is Harrison's Dream. Letter Y onwards sounds too much like Short Ride in a Fast Machine by John Adams for me to take seriously.
I think most composers (including myself) from time to time do refer to other pieces they may have been listening to, however the only thing that bothers me about the first movement of montage is the nature of the reference - literally the whole first movement follows the EXACT shape of the Lutolslawski with even direct quotations for many bars, which I think makes it a tad selfless, especially when there is no inscription or mention of Lutoslawski on the band score - makes it look a tad suspect!

I think Montage is a great piece for the record and have a lot of time for Peter Graham's music, however this has tarnished my personal view of his writing! Surely this is also an ethical (as well as copyright) issue?


Active Member
Break the trend here, but I don't like it. Just has never appealed to me like his other I think it rock hard, I've tried playing the euph and bari parts and aint got very far, think it has something to do with the fact that i will never be a euph player as long as I have a hole in my mouthpiece :p :!:

Edited: (RT)


Staff member
I've never found Montage particularly accessible either, although I did find hearing the two renditions in Glasgow helped to try and make sense of it.

As for the question of basing a piece of music around a previous model, that is a long established practice, from the "parody masses" onwards, both in the realm of "serious" music, and in jazz, where many folk have created new pieces around the chord structure of an existing song.

Many composers will also have their own characteristics that will recur over and over again - think of Bach, Handel & Beethoven, or in more recent years Mahler, Sibelius & Shostakovich, and I don't think it should disturb us any more than it would if a novelist has a recognised style of writing and specific language that they use.
I do not have a problem really with the use of quotation or reference, but it is the way that Peter Graham has used this that bothers me. Many composers have used these devices to make a extra musical statement, whether one of performance practise (as famously done by Luciano Berio in the 3rd movement of "Sinfonia") or to "send up" or parody a work or genre. As far as I can see, the first movement of Montage is neither of these and merely "copies" the structure of the Lutoslawski, adding nothing more to the musical argument that was present in the original. If anything, it "dumbs down" the original, basically taking the whole Intrada and re-writing it tonally. The lack of any acknowledgement of this in the score makes it even more questionable, which feels a little unethical to me, as a composition student myself.

As for compositional style, I think it's obvious that every composer has different hallmarks and means of writing which are going to carry through from piece to piece. Peter Graham certainly has a very distinctive style which one could argue leads a little too much to regurgitation of ideas, yet Montage is his only work which I feel breaks away from his usual style somewhat, although after finding out that this could just be because he has copied the Lutoslawski, it feels a little less impressive to me!


Whatever you think of the 1st movement surely the 2nd more than makes up for it? Superb section in my opinion and a great piece of music over all.
Don't get me wrong, i thin montage is a fabulous piece of music full of some excellent writing. The 2nd movement is excellent and very musical as is the 3rd which contains a huge amount of energy, but it is merely the ethical issue of copying another composers work which I am addressing. I love montage as a pice, but can't help but feel dissapointed to see that Mr Graham has "ripped off" Lutoslawski in it's construstion. This isn't merely an opinion, I can cite specific musical examples in the first movement which are identical to the lutoslawski! Perhaps I am thinking too much?


New Member

This post inspired to go out an buy the lutoslawski, as I had only heard it once and a fair while ago. Listening to it now I can see where cornetcheese is coming from - there are definite moments there that are extremely similar, and the framework is largely identical. BUT, there is plenty in Montage that isn't in the Lutoslawski. Someone also mentioned the 2nd movement - there is more impressionism there than anything else.
I don't think there is anything wrong with finding and using forms from the classics if you can make them your own. Obviously there can be a fine line sometimes... But, take one step back and you hear in Derek Bourgeois plenty of Shostakovich and Stravinsky, for example...



Lets not forget that " borrowing " themes and ideas from other composers has been a practice used for centuries.
The music of Phillip Sparke is another example.
When he was Composer in Residence at Salford I remember him stopping the band halfway through the slow movement of Partita and saying that he had borrowed the main theme from a Dionne Warwick song! "love that way again" or summit like that :?


Yeah it is great
I love Peter Graham stuff - particularly On Alderley Edge........there is nothing nicer than a high Euph solo :D

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