Quintet for Brass

Programme Note

This work was written in 1967 as a graduation piece whilst I was a student at the Royal Academy of Music. It won the coveted Frederick Corder memorial prize.

In the audience at the first performance, given by a student brass quintet, was Philip Jones, who took up the work and gave it its first professional performance as well as a broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Soon after, the Quintet was also taken up by Hallé Brass, who recorded it commercially. It was the composer’s first published work with Novello, who remain as his main publisher today. The work is dedicated to the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble.

The Quintet is in two movements. The first movement is in three sections marked Andante sostenuto, Allegro scherzando, followed by a reprise of the opening Andante. The opening horn melody, built on fourths, provides much of the material for the movement. The answering semiquaver rhythms on muted trumpets become the background accompaniment for the middle section scherzo. This scherzo is frenetic in character and consists of upward leaping sevenths, with various effects such as trills, flutter-tongues, and glissandi. The opening tranquil section returns, this time in canonic form.

The second movement is marked Allegro molto ritmico and the march-like character of the music is apparent from the outset. The movement is cast in rondo form and the main theme is built on arpeggio-like figures on the trumpets. The first episode is more lyrical and slightly ‘bluesy’ with the horn taking the lead, whilst the second is a fugato built on the opening melody of the work, but this time extended into a twelve-note chromatic subject. The opening rondo tune returns and the work concludes with a brilliant coda.

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Work Details

  • Date of Composition: 1967
  • Publisher: Novello
  • Genre:
  • Duration: 10'
  • Instrumentation: 2tpt.hn.tbn.tba

First Performance

  • Date: 5 July 1967
  • Venue: Royal Academy of Music, London, UK
  • Performers:
    William Stokes (trumpet) George Parnaby (trumpet) Christopher Larkin (horn) Alan Griggs (trombone) David Honeyball (tuba)


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