Directed Chamber Music Published In The United Kingdom

Tim Reynish introduces a catalogue devised by Leroy Osmon of large-scale wind chamber music

Updated 17/8/2004

One of the great advantages of the 21st century is the ease of electronic communication; Band-Chat recently put us all back in touch with Leroy Osmon down in Mexico, and the problem of identifying large-scale wind ensemble works, and this produced from Leroy a wonderful listing of pieces including 18 works by Leroy himself. As with any listing, it easy to quibble: why include Walton's Façade but not Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, and why no sign of Webern's ensemble music, such as the Concerto for Nine Instruments, especially if the list includes the works of Varèse. For that matter, I would also include the Berg Kammerkonzert.

21st Century Masterpiece

However, this is mere carping, since Leroy's listing is pretty comprehensive, going up in scope as far as the Stravinsky Symphony of Wind Instruments and the two late Strauss works. I would add to these undoubted masterpieces several fine large-scale European works which I think are well worth programming. The new millennium was celebrated by Sir Simon Rattle and the Royal Festival Hall with the commission from Magnus Lindberg of his Gran Duo (Boosey & Hawkes), scored for the same forces as the Stravinsky in its second version, with the addition of a bass clarinet. This is a challenging work for the players, but I personally find it more varied emotionally than the Stravinsky. 

No Strings Attached

A number of other works have been played at WASBE Conferences and are amongst my favourite orchestral works without strings; Willem van Otterloo's Sinfonietta (Donemus) for triple woodwind and horns was played at the Boston Conference, but I was lucky enough to first hear it in the Concertgebouw conducted by the composer. 

Dutch Wind Music

A work commissioned for the wind section of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is Tristan Keuris' fine Catena (Novello). Tristan's premature death is a sad loss to "middle-of-the-road" Dutch music, but he did leave us an Intermezzo (Donemus) for flute and octet, commissioned by Netherlands Wind Ensemble, while another excellent Dutch work was played at WASBE 1991, the Piccolo Concerto op 67 (Donemus) for 12 wind instruments, timps, percussion and piano by Lex van Delden. We need research to be published on the commissions and repertoire of the Netherlands Wind Ensemble.

Manchester 1991 Repertoire

In that same programme we heard Peter Racine Fricker's moving Sinfonia In Memoriam Benjamin Britten, Britten's own Russian Funeral Music (Faber) for orchestral brass and Ole Schmidt's hilarious Homage to Stravinsky (Maecenas). Elsewhere in the WASBE Manchester conference, delegates were introduced to Elizabeth Maconchy's impressive Music for Wind and Brass (Chester), the Brotons Sinfonia da Camera (is this ever going to be published?) and Malcolm Arnold's Water Music (Novello).

Symphony Orchestra Wind, Brass & Percussion

Finally, two British works which brilliantly exploit the orchestra without strings are Celebration, written by Edward Gregson for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Mosaic, the first movement of the Concerto for Orchestra, written by Michael Tippett for the Boston Symphony.

American Chamber Winds & Jean Françaix

In Manchester Jean Françaix was the soloist with American Chamber Winds under the late Stanley Hettinger and David Waybright, and they played several Françaix works which are on Leroy's list. It is however worth getting from Schotts a complete listing of the chamber music of Françaix and other composers who wrote for the Mainz Wind Ensemble. Two works which I especially enjoy for their wit and energy are Le Gay Paris with solo trumpet, and Mozart New Look with solo double bass, both with wind dectet accompaniment, all published by Schott.

The importance of WASBE or someone maintaining a listing of works played at Conferences is underlined by several other omissions of works which I consider to be minor, and sometimes major, masterpieces. Two of the most useful are the beautiful Alwyn Concerto for Flute and Eight instruments, and the Concertino for Bassoon by Juriaan Andriessen. To supplement Leroy's listing, it is worth purchasing the WASBE Journal no 6 for 1999 which has articles by Jim Croft and Bob Garofalo, the former listing a "core" repertoire for Chamber Winds, the latter discussing Theme Programming. Of course, any listing is out of date by the time that it reaches print, but as a reference such catalogues are invaluable. 

Chamber Concerti

It is so easy to forget works of importance, and one such minor (or major masterpiece) is the very fine Ritornelli for Solo Trombone, Seven Wind and Percussion by Alun Hoddinott, now on sale from Denis Wick publications. Another work that I love which is available in both wind band or chamber versions is Tales of Father Goose (EMB) by the Hungarian Gyorgy Ranki, also for solo Trombone, while the original Hartmnann Concertino for Trumpet and Ensemble is now in the Schott catalogue. This was lost for over seventy years, and the story of its rediscovery deserves to be told.

"New" Discovery For Trumpet And Chamber Winds

Concertino for Trumpet and Seven Solo Instruments

Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1905-1963)

Hartmann's Concertino was composed around 1933 and premiered by Professor Nikolay on August 12th 1933 during a Musical Congress in Straatsburg (Strasbourg, France), conducted by Dr. Hermann Scherchen. After the performance Hartmann took the score with him and tried to find other brass players who would be interested in his composition, but he could not find anyone with the technical skills demanded by the piece. After years of searching, Hartmann visited Amsterdam in 1956 and gave the score, written with a lead pencil, to the first trumpeter, Marinus Komst, of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Unfortunately Komst did not perform as a soloist in those years; perhaps this was his reason for not having returned the score. After some time Hartmann forgot whom he left the music with. 
After retiring from the Orchestra, Komst gave the Hartmann score to one of his former students who also chose not to perform the piece. This trumpeter also studied with Freddy Grin at one point. It was Grin who eventually convinced his former student to return the score to Frau Professor Elisabeth Hartmann, who was almost 90 years old then. She was extremely thankful to finally be able to see the music that has been mentioned so often by her late husband, who truly lamented having lost the Concertino then.

A "Mahler" Symphony For Wind Octet

Even more important was the omission of a work which I consider to be virtually Mahlerian, albeit for Octet, the Hans Gal Divertimento (Maecenas -Leuckart) for flute, oboe, 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns and trumpet.

The standard reference book now for Wind Ensemble must be The Wind Ensemble Catalog (sic) compiled by Jon Gillaspie, Marshall Stoneham and David Clark, published by Greenwood Press, and a mine of information.

Barbar The Elephant

This book reminds me that the Dutch scholar Bastiaan Blomhert has made awonderful arrangement of Poulenc's Barbar the Elephant for narrator, wind dectet with usual doublings, trumpet, tuba and piano, on hire from Chester/Music Sales.

Mozart Original Arrangement

Bastiaan has also edited and written a dissertation on the arrangement of Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Barenreiter) which increasingly looks as if it is arranged originally by the master himself.

Matyas Seiber

And finally a wonderful piece admittedly for sextet so not really part of Leroy's list, but one missed out in the Wind Ensemble Catalogue, a Serenade (Schott) for 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons and 2 horns, which like the Hans Gal, would need a lot of rehearsal to be played without conductor.

WASBE 1991 Conference - Where Are They Now?

The Manchester Conference introduced a number of works for chamber ensemble that need a conductor, and David Whitwell chaired a session presented by Volker Braach on literature for groups up to twenty players. Jeffrey Renshaw gave a paper on the commissions of Robert Boudreau for the American Wind Symphony, which turned into a book published by Greenwood Press, Frank Battisti and David Whitwell presented their research into the Longy Club (another book emerged), but what happened to the results of the research session on Unknown Composers, chaired by Robert Spradling? The programme ran:

  • Robert Spradling introduces the music of Brian Israel
  • Gary Ciepluch introduces the music of Paul Epstein
  • Bob Grechesky introduces the music of Michael Schelle
  • Ibrook Tower introduces the music of Bruce Yurko
  • AND Paula Crider introduces the music of Leroy Osman!

American Symphony Commissions

It is a nice point whether these should be included - perhaps the AWS catalogue needs to be included as an addendum in its own right. Jeffrey Renshaw can be contacted at University of Connecticut, and his research has been continued by Donald de Roche of St Paul University, Chicago, who heads up the research committee for WASBE currently. Perhaps too those papers from Manchester in 1991 could be published.

Donald de Roche -
Jeffrey Renshaw -

Made In England

Below I am adding a few more works, mainly from England, that I have heard or often conducted and can recommend warmly Three works in particular I would like to mention. The first is the beautiful Richard Rodney Bennett Reflections on a 16th Century Tune (Novello), seamlessly re-scored by a master-craftsman from his original string orchestra version for double wind quintet with piccolo, cor, bass clarinet and contra bassoon. Another charming work for double quintet is Guy Woolfenden's Serenade for Sophie (Ariel), while for octet one of my favorite pieces is the Howard Blake Serenade. Finally, a special plea for a major contemporary octet, Five Impressions (Novello) by Willard Elliott, formerly principal bassoon with the Chicago Symphony. This is a fantastic work which I discovered at Northwestern University and eventually got published, over twenty minutes in length running the full gamut of emotions; for complete contrast, there is an outrageously funny piece written for the Mozart celebrations, Eine Kleine Snookerspiel (Camden) by Gary Carpenter.


Apart from the two major reference books by Gillaspie, Stoneham and Clark published by Greenwood Press, there are a number of other essential reference books in looking for material for different ensembles, and probably there are sources on the internet. For me, an essential bedside reference is Felix Hauswirth's 1000 Selected Works for Wind Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, available to WASBE members at a 20% discount and excellent value even at full price. With this I use both the Wallace/Corporon book of 1984 and its fore-runner of 1975 by Reynolds, Corporon, McMurray, DeRusha and Grechesky (what a team) and for British music the British Wind Music of Four Decades which we published in 1991 and Jonathan Good's invaluable reference of 1999, while the WASBE lecture by Croft and Garafalo in San Luis Obispo gave valuable ideas.

Happy Birthday Alun & Willem

Ideally, with Leroy's permission this listing might go onto the WASBE web, with periodic updates; already Leroy has issued an addendum with over two hundred extra works. There is now need for someone with time and a meticulous mind to edit the listing thoroughly, possibly adding publishers and timings where known and making corrections. Colleagues who want to celebrate Alun Hoddinott's 75th birthday this year will need to know that his Ritornello is for Solo Trombone and seven instruments, while the centenary of the birth of Willem van Otterloo should inspire many performances of his superb Symphonietta for 3333:4, published by Donemus, and not yet in Leroy's list.

Recommended Large-Scale Chamber Music Composed Or Published In England

Composer Work Publisher Instrumental Scoring
Alwyn, WilliamConcerto for Flute(Legnick)
Arnold, MalcolmWater Music(Novello)
Bennett, Richard RodneyReflections on a 16th Century Tune(Novello) 2 cl. cbsn doublings
Blake, DavidCassation(Novello)
Blake, HowarDSerenade(Con Brio)
Carpenter, GaryEine Kleine Snookerspiel(Camden)
Elliot, WillardFive Impressions(Novello)
Fricker, Peter RacineSinfonia; In Memoriam Benjamin Britten(Maecenas)
Hoddinott, AlunRitornelli for Trombone, seven winds and percussion(Denis Wick)
Horovitz, JosephFantasia on a Theme of Couperin(Novello)
Keuris, TristanCatena(Novello) perc-celeste
Maconchy, ElizabethMusic for Wind and Brass(Chester)2.2.2.- T
McCabe, JohnSymphony for 10 Winds(Novello)
Oliver, StephenRicecare 2(Novello)