Most difficult test piece

The Cornet King

Active Member
Tough question really.

Technically, something like Masquerade, Contest Music are seriously hard.
Having said that pieces like Cloudcatcher Fells, Resurgam have a different difficulty, requiring absolute control of slow playing.

Apocalypse by Bourgeois overall is probably the hardest going at the moment.

Dave Payn

Active Member
From a point of view of achieving a great performance rather than 'technical wizadry', Moorside Suite (particularly 2nd movement) and Epic Symphony spring to mind.


Active Member
Blitz sounds pretty tough, especially getting it together. Wouldn't mind a crack at playing it though! (must be the massochist in me :D ).


Supporting Member
The hardest test piece I've ever played? Tristan Encounters! :lol:
Why? High, wiggly, nasty solos and exposed bits, lyrical passages that are hard to pull off well.... the ultimate test imho.

Harmony Music comes a close 2nd for me, for pretty much the same reasons. I'd love a crack at Masquerade or On Alderley Edge too - they sound "challenging"!


Active Member
Hardest Piece...

In my own experience , I have not found a part which I have not been able to play without a bit of work, if you look at the basics, time sig , key , any sure anyone can play anything that is put in front of you...I dont think I have ever been to a competition without having a fully rehersed part , I have been dropped in a few competitions on day transfers with bands and not having a rehersal with a band , but I have had the music to look at before. would like to say my sight reading is ok..
few examples of sight reading at concerts and competitions..
Ballet for Band - Horovitz
Dove Decending - Wilby
Concerto for Cornet -Torstein Aagard Nilsen
Dances West Side Story - Bernstien
On the Town - Bernstien
Rachmaninov Symphony No2.
Sibelius Symphony No2.
Leibestod - Tristan - Wagner
Symphonic Metamorphosis - Paul Hindermith
American In Paris - Gershwin
Porgy and Bess - Gershwin
Firebird - Stavinsky get the picture .
I enjoy music , I dont find it hard...I just work at it to make it as good as possible. Yes I have split loads of notes , and blobbed in wrong places ( as we all have ).
the only piece I have found hard to concentrate on , get a decent balance and get some shape out of it " Prague " I think Judith Bingham's work is great ( 4 min Mile , the earth below the stars above ) just found it really difficult to get over in a competition situation , as I've put before it is great in a contempory music festival ,where you can program it with other works , but on it's own cold in an empty hall...Nah and when I played it with Beaumaris ( and the band were drawn last on...where normally you would have a full hall ) the Brangwyn Hall in Swansea was almost empty ( maybe 20 - 30 people)....


The hardest test piece I've ever played was Leonardo at the 1st section finals in 2002. I ended up playing the Repiano part and the 3rd man down part so had loads of tricky solos and mute changes. I have never been so drained coming off stage as I was that day.

Jo x

Andy Stevens

New Member
I guess it all depends on how you define "difficult".

From those that I've played, Blitz has the most moments where every member of the band is right on the edge of their seat praying that they don't come in at the wrong place (virtually the entire piece actually). Even the rests are fraught with danger on this one.

Contest Music has the most moments where it doesn't matter how many times you rehearse it, one player having a bad day can split enough notes to ruin the entire performance for everyone (especially the front row cornets, trust me I've done it!).

The prayer and Nativity from ..Dove Descending has to be the most challenging though. Starting with trombone and euphonium squawking away up in the high register, it eventually settles into a beautiful good old fashioned melody (remember those?). However, it's pianissimo for almost the entire movement with the odd ppp thrown in, every player in the band plays a different part (so you can't cheat and knock a few players off), and there's enough high and controlled short solos to scare any end-chair player. It beats the second movement from A Moorside Suite all ends up for me.

Having said all that, Mexican Fiesta caused me no end of trouble when I played it in the fourth section....


New Member
most difficult piece

It all depends where you sit,. Some pieces are considered very difficult for some, but very easy for other players on a different part or instrument :) :? :D

Will the Sec

Active Member
The most difficult test pieces I've played were The Shipbuilders and Partita.

I did the Shipbuilders for a year with Harlow as our own choice piece for the contest season, then joined Waltham Forest only to find that the piece for the areas was.... I had to conectrate very hard and stifle yawns.

Partita: Did it in 1989 with Harlow; depped with I can't remember who for two contests in 95 when they did Partita; nearly did it with Waltham Forest but we didn't go to whatever contest it was. Did it as own choice with Fulham in 2000. So when it was announced for the fourth Section areas this year, I was very close to walking out because the thought of hearing "D'oh! D'oh! D'oh! Don't have a cow, Man!" for another four months was almost unbearable. Playing it took a lot of self control. (Of course, I now think it is a BRILLIANT piece again :D :D :D )


Active Member
The hardest I have ever played at a contest would have to be year of the dragon, it isn't just a couple of tricky bars either!!!


On listening:- Year of the Dragon or Harrison's Dream

But playing:- Les Preludes (its solid), not technically difficult but just quite hard to play as its a transcription the arranger expects front row to be like a woodwind section/violins...etc

Tristan didn't seem to easy at the start but came quite easily after numerous practices and a lot of hard work done at home


Test pieces...........

I mostly agree with all those pieces which have been said, although I think any piece can become the most difficult when put into a contest context. Out of the pieces that I have played I'd say that:-

1) Masquarade (them damn buzzy-bee bits on the second page!)
2) Aubade
3) Contest Music
4) Harrison's Dream

Of the ones I haven't really played:-

1) Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
2) Concerto Grosso

There are more but got a hangover and I can't think beyond these!
I think the hardest piece I have ever played is 'Kokomo' and 'Walking Home With Brother Bill'

The hardest test pieces are 'Triptych' and 'A Caledonian Journey'

No doubt about it :shock:
None at all :?

:p :p :p :p
Yeah rock on Apocalypse, although it hasn't been set as a 'test' piece yet has it?? :?:

It'd be interesting to know how many individual black dots are on the score. It would make for a fantastic 'guess the jelly bean count' type competition at a concert instead of the same boring old raffles.

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