Brass Quintet Excerpts, Part II

Continuing the post from Part I of this series, we should consider some of the other reasons why it is beneficial to study, or least be familiar with, brass quintet excerpts.  Quoting again from the Guide to the Brass Quintet:

Many of these works are performed frequently by student and professional brass quintets.  Being aware of the important horn solos and other prominent passages in these pieces will keep you from being caught off guard at your next reading session or rehearsal.

Because the brass quintet is the most popular medium for those instruments in chamber music, and because it has a tradition extending back to the 19th century (Ewald, etc.), there is now a more or less standard repertory, similar, though not as large, to what we find in symphonic music.  Even if you are not currently active in a brass quintet, it would still be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the major works and passages in the literature.  (Quoting myself again from the Guide to the Brass Quintet)

Although professional brass quintet auditions are not standardized in this country the way orchestral auditions are, players interested in pursuing a career in chamber music for brass should definitely know this repertoire.  Players auditioning for teaching positions at institutions  which have a faculty brass quintet would also need to be familiar with these works, since a reading session with the quintet would be very likely during the audition/interview process.  In addition, some full time and regional orchestras also have a woodwind or brass quintet made up of principal players – I know of at least one audition list that stated “Auditionee for Principal Horn may be asked to participate in a reading session with woodwind and/or brass quintet.” (Cedar Rapids, Principal/3rd horn, 1997)

If you’re looking for a place to start your study of brass quintet music, consult the list below.  These are all pieces – in no particular order – that I think most would agree are more or less standard in the literature, meaning they are performed and recorded quite often.  There are certainly others equal in popularity, but these are as good as any for a point of departure.  Clicking the links will take you to a specific movement from that work located in the Guide to the Brass Quintet website.  Return to the Excerpts homepage to see passages from additional movements.

Malcolm Arnold, Brass Quintet No. 1, Op. 73

Victor Ewald, Brass Quintet No. 1, Op. 5

Andre Previn, Four Outings for Brass Quintet

Morley Calvert, Suite from the Monteregian Hills

Eugene Bozza, Sonatine

John Cheetham, A Brass Menagerie

John Cheetham, Scherzo

Ingolf Dahl, Music for Brass Instruments [Brass Sextet]

Anthony Plog, Four Sketches

Eric Ewazen, Colchester Fantasy

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Brass Quintet Excerpts, Part I

This will be the first of three installments devoted to important horn parts in brass quintet music, which was also the subject of my doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  As part of the project, I created a website, the Guide to the Brass Quintet, as a way to make the information in my dissertation more accessible and user friendly.  As a bit of background, I’ll quote from the homepage to this website.

The initial idea and inspiration for this project came from reading the “Afterthoughts” section of Douglas Hill’s book Collected Thoughts on Teaching and Learning, Creativity and Horn Performance.  In this section, Professor Hill lists a number of intriguing research topics, including the creation of excerpt books focusing on repertoire other than standard orchestral excerpts.  I am very interested in the wonderful music being written for the brass quintet, so this project proved to be an excellent choice given my own research interests and performing background.

What is Contained in this Site?

Hopefully, horn players and other interested musicians will find the following resources contained in these pages useful.

A collection of printable excerpts of important horn passages from some of the most frequently performed and recorded original brass quintet compositions. The excerpts are formatted and edited with additional performance instructions for horn players.

A Discography showing the names of the ensembles, titles of compositions, and information on the specific recordings where each work is found.  The discography lists, at times, multiple recordings of each major work, so that players can study and listen to multiple interpretations.

Supplemental information such as an excerpt classification system, which organizes the excerpts according to their technical requirements, as well as the Range Requirements for 55 standard brass quintet compositions.

A bibliography of additional resources, both print and electronic, for further study of the brass quintet and its repertoire.

If this stuff sounds interesting to you, then stick around!  One way to use this information, which I mention in my dissertation and on the website, is as an alternative/supplementary etude collection, complete with excerpt classifications for solo passages, high horn, low horn, technical, and extended techniques.  For example, if you’re working on extended techniques and want some extra material to practice, you can consult the Extended Techniques section of the website for a list of composers, works, and measure numbers.  All of the excerpts listed are available in the Excerpts portion of the site.  Here are a couple of particularly interesting passages.

Georges Barboteu (b. 1924),  Astral, 1 mm.  after reh. G-7 mm.  after reh. G, Lento (quarter note=50) [With metronome playing at quarter note=50]

All excerpts from Astral by Georges Barboteu used by permission. Copyright © 1971 by Edition Choudens.  C. F. Peters Corporation, sole selling agents.  All Rights Reserved.

Douglas Hill (b. 1946), Timepieces for Brass Quintet, Movement I, “Good Times” mm.  43-56, Double tempo (quarter note=160)

All excerpts from Timepieces for Brass Quintet by Douglas Hill used by permission.  Copyright © 1997 Douglas Hill. Really Good Music, LLC, Sole Selling Agent.

For twenty-three of the fifty-five works, I recorded the horn parts and included them along with the printed music.  Although it’s no substitute for a full ensemble recording, it hopefully gives you an idea of the excerpt.  You can listen to the above excerpt from Douglas Hill’s Timepieces here:

If you enjoyed this post, check out the full website, it has much more information.  Much of this material can also be found in my article “Why the Brass Quintet?” published in the May 2009 issue of The Horn Call.

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