Throughout the 19th century, music for winds became more popular. More pieces were transcribed, but only a few composers wrote large-scale works for winds. As military bands began to grow and instruments made improvements, more opportunities were presented for composers to write for the medium. In this chapter, we will explore some more chamber music, as well as some original compositions written for larger wind bands.

1824/1838 – Overture for Band, Opus 24 Felix Mendelssohn

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847) (more commonly known as Felix Mendelssohn) was a German composer, pianist, and conductor. Robert Schumann called him the “Mozart of the 19th century,” and Franz Liszt called him “J.S. Bach reborn.” Throughout his brief life, he wrote symphonies, operas, chamber music, music for piano and organ, and concertos. His most popular compositions include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Songs without Words, and his Scottish and Italian Symphonies.[1]

Felix Mendelssohn wrote the first version of his Opus 24 in 1924 with the original title, Notturno. The original instrumentation was for one flute, two clarinets, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, one trumpet, and one serpent. In 1838 he revised the score to include 23 winds and percussion.[2] Felix Greissle adapted the piece for modern band instrumentation in 1948.

1840 – Grand Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale Hector Berlioz

French composer, Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), helped expand the role of wind instruments in orchestras by assigning solos to wind players in his music. In 1843, he published a Treatise on Orchestration that provided composers with technical information about the orchestra’s instruments.

Berlioz wrote the Grand Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale in 1840 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the July Revolution that brought Louis-Philippe to power.[3] It premiered in Paris and was intended to be performed outdoors with a large ensemble of over 200 players. Richard Franko Goldman rediscovered the piece and gave the first American performance in 1947. [4]

Grand Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale is written in three movements meant to be performed back to back. The second movement incorporates a trombone solo meant to represent a recitative and blessing from clergymen. Until this point, the trombone was seldom used as a solo voice. Berlioz added optional string parts for a performance in 1842 and choral parts soon after. He referred to the final movement as an “indestructible war horse” and arranged it for chorus, vocal solo, and piano accompaniment.[5]

The three movements are:

    1. Marche funèbre (Funeral march)
    2. Oraison funèbre (Funeral prayer)
    3. Apothéose (Apotheosis)

1844 – Trauermusik Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was a German composer remembered most for his operas. Wagner’s Trauermusik was written in 1844 to be performed for Carl Maria von Weber’s (1786-1826) burial procession. Weber was known as one of the first to compose German opera, and was buried in London in 1826, and his remains were later sent to their final resting place in Friedrichstadt, Germany.[6]

Richard Wagner adapted themes from Weber’s opera Euryanthe for the torchlight procession. In the opera, Euryanthe is banished to the wilderness by Count Adolar after his sister Emma commits suicide. As the story develops, Emma’s soul is trapped inside a ring and requires “a tear of innocent love” to be released.[7] In the first section of

Trauermusik, Wagner adapts music from the overture to Euryanthe. The middle section quotes music that Euryanthe sang while banished in the wilderness, and the final section uses music from the end of the opera.[8]

Trauermusik is also known as Trauersinfonie because, in 1860, C.F. Meser published a piano arrangement without permission. Eric Leidzen edited the piece in 1948 for Edwin Franko Goldman’s band, and Michael Votta recreated a performance edition in 1992.[9] The original score calls for five flutes, seven oboes, twenty clarinets, ten bassoons, eight F horns, six Bb horns, six trumpets in F, three alto trombones, three tenor trombones, three bass trombones, four tubas, and six side drums.[10]

1864 – Huldigungsmarsch Richard Wagner

Huldigungsmarsch was written to show respect for King Ludwig II, who succeeded the Bavarian throne in 1864. Also known as the Homage March, this composition was written when Wagner arrived in Munich.[11] Later the March was transcribed for orchestra by Joachim Raff. Two other pieces that Wagner wrote for winds include Kaisermarsch (1871) and

Centennialmarsch (1876).[12]

1869– Orient et Occident Camille Saint-Saëns

French composer, Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), was devoted to the progression of French music. Orient et Occident was composed for a gala in 1869 and incorporated musical stereotypes of the East and West that were known at the time. Saint-Saëns dedicated the piece to his friend, Theodore Biais. The work was eventually transcribed for orchestra by the composer. David Whitwell created a modern edition in 2014.[13]

1878– Serenade in D Minor, Opus 44. Antonín Dvorák

Antonin Dvorák (1841-1904) is regarded as one of the great Czech composers of the 19th century. He spent 1892-1895 as the director of the National Conservatory of New York and would travel to Iowa during the summers. However, he was unhappy in the United States and went back to Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) to join the faculty of the Prague Conservatory. During his time in the United States, he composed Symphony No. 9 in E minor, more commonly known as the New World Symphony.[14]

Serenade in D minor, also known as Serenade for Winds in D minor, was written in 1878. Instrumentation for the piece includes two oboes, two Bb clarinets that double on A clarinet, two bassoons, an optional contrabassoon, two horns in F that double on Horn in E, one horn in Bb that double on horn in D, cello, and bass. The movements include:

    1. Moderato, quasi Marcia
    2. Minuetto
    3. Andante con moto
    4. Allegro molto

The Serenade in D minor was written in two weeks and premiered in Prague with Dvorák conducting.[15]

1881– Serenade, Opus 7Richard Strauss

German composer and conductor Richard Strauss (1864-1949) is often remembered for his tone poems. Some examples include Don Juan (1888),

Til Eulenspiegel (1895), Also sprach Zarathustra (1896), Don Quixote (1897), and
Ein Heldenleben (1898). His father, Franz Strauss, was also a musician and started Richard’s training at a young age. Hans von Bülow hired Richard Strauss as his assistant conductor with the Meiningen Orchestra in 1881 and encouraged him to keep composing after viewing the score to the Serenade.[16] Instrumentation includes two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, a contrabassoon, two Bb clarinets, a contrabass clarinet, two horns in Eb, two horns in Bb basso, and bass.

1884 – Suite in Bb, Opus 4 Richard Strauss

Although it has an earlier opus number than his Serenade, Richard Strauss wrote Suite in Bb in 1884. Hans von Bülow asked Strauss to write another wind piece, resulting in the four-movement Suite in Bb. Opus 4 uses the same instrumentation as Op. 7[17], and the movements include:

    1. Praeludium
    2. Romanze
    3. Gavotte
    4. Introduction and Fugue

1885 – Petite Symphonie Charles Gounod

As a child, French composer, Charles Gounod (1818-1893) would describe a dog barking in “sol” or a lady crying in “do,” and his neighbors would often call him “Le petit musician.”[18] In 1836, he began studying composition at the Paris Conservatory and won the Grand Prix de Rome in 1839.[19]

In 1885, the founder of the French Flute School, Paul Taffanel, commissioned Gounod to write the Petite Symphony for the Societe de Musique de Chamber pour Instruments a Vent. Taffanel’s ensemble was a standard Harmoniemusik octet with the addition of a flute and was committed to commissioning new works for winds.[20] The Petite Symphonie contains four movements:

    1. Adagio et Allegretto
    2. Andante Cantabile
    3. Scherzo
    4. Finale-Allegretto

The piece was modeled after a classical symphony, and the first movement is in sonata form, beginning with a slow adagio introduction. The second movement is lyrical with an aria-like flute solo. The third movement is a lively Scherzoand contains the most technically challenging lines in the piece. Finally, the fourth movement ends the piece in a modified sonata form.

  1. Norman E. Smith, Program Notes for Band (Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, 2002). 423.
  2. Ibid. 424.
  3. Frank L. Battisti, The New Winds of Change: The Evolution of the Contemporary American Wind Band/Ensemble and Its Music (Delray Beach, FL: Meredith Music Publications, 2018). 5.
  4. Ibid., 50.
  5. Stephen Rhodes, “5 Revolution and Nineteenth-Century Europe,” A History of the Wind Band: Revolution and Nineteenth-Century Europe, 2007, https://windbandhistory.neocities.org/rhodeswindband_05_19thcenturyeurope.html#berlioz, Accessed December 13, 2022.
  6. Richard B. Miles et al., Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, vol. 1 (Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, Inc., 2010). 756.
  7. Ibid. 756.
  8. Ibid. 757.
  9. Ibid. 757.
  10. Richard Franko Goldman, The Band's Music. On the Repertoire of the Band. (New York, NY: Pitman Publishing Corporation, 1938). 427.
  11. Ibid. 426.
  12. Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire, Band Music Notes (San Diego, CA: Kjos West, 1979). 238.
  13. Nikk Pilato, “Orient Et Occident,” Wind Repertory Project, https://www.windrep.org/Orient_et_Occident, accessed December 16, 2022.
  14. Norman E. Smith, Program Notes for Band, 183.
  15. Ibid. 184.
  16. Ibid. 569-570.
  17. Ibid. 570.
  18. Marie Anne Bovet, Charles Gounod: His Life and His Works (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, 1891), 55.
  19. Norman E. Smith, Program Notes for Band, 245.
  20. Edward Blakeman, Taffanel: Genius of the Flute (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005). 67-69.


Share This Book