The rise of the Twentieth century saw a shift to compositions now commonly recognized as “band music.” During this time, Percy Grainger started writing for winds, Holst penned two suites for band, and Edwin Franko Goldman (1878-1956) emerged as a champion of band music. Goldman learned to play the cornet as a boy and received a scholarship to attend the National Conservatory of Music. By the time he was seventeen, he had earned a position with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where he played for Gustav Mahler and Arturo Toscanini. He began conducting in 1905 and formed the New York Military Band in 1911. Three years after the end of World War I, Goldman changed the band’s name to the Goldman Concert Band in 1921 and a year later renamed it again to the Goldman Band. As there was little music composed for bands before this time, the Goldman Band performed mostly transcription. Edwin Franko Goldman spent much of his life advocating for more composers to write for bands and the wind ensemble medium.[1]

1901 – From the Steeples and the MountainsCharles Ives

Charles Ives (1874-1954) was an American composer and organist who made his living working in insurance. He studied piano and organ at a young age and eventually played drums in his father’s band. He was hired as a church organist at 14 and began composing anthems, and sacred songs for services. In 1893 he moved to New Haven to prepare for entrance exams at Yale. He entered Yale in 1894, where he studied composition with Horatio Parker. He moved to New York after graduation in 1898 and began his career in insurance. He continued playing organ and experimenting with composition in his free time. Around 1908 he began incorporating American melodies as themes in his music. His

Symphony No. 3  won the Pulitzer Prize in 1946.[2]

While not necessarily a “band” piece, From the Steeples and the Mountains demonstrates the exploration of writing for wind and percussion instruments at the turn of the century. This piece was written in 1901 and scored for four sets of church bells, trumpet, and trombone. From the Steeples and the Mountains demonstrates Ives’s experimentation with atonality and serialism right after his studies at Yale.[3]

Variations on “America” and Country Band March are two of Ives’s compositions transcribed for band that are seen as essential works for the medium. Variations on “America” for organ was composed in 1890 and is considered Ives’s earliest composition that demonstrates the use of polytonality. In 1964, William Schuman transcribed the work for orchestra, and in 1968, William Rhodes used the orchestra version to transcribe a band version.[4]

Country Band March was originally written for flute, clarinet, saxophone, cornet, trombone, violin, bass, piano, and drums in 1903 and was arranged for full band by James Sinclair in 1973. Some of the children’s songs, patriotic songs, and Sousa marches quoted in the Country Band March include Battle Cry of Freedom, Liberty Bell, London Bridge, Semper Fidelis, and Yankee Doodle.

1901 – Um MitternachtGustav Mahler

Austrian composer and conductor Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) is remembered as a great, late-Romantic composer. After experiencing much tragedy in his personal life, he set ten of Friedrich Rückert’s (1788-1866) poems to song between 1901-1904. These ten songs would become known as the

Kindertotenlieder and the Rückert Lieder.[5] There are five songs in the Rückert-Lieder: Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder, Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft, Um Mitternacht, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, and Liebst du um Schoenheit.

Um Mitternacht is scored for voice and orchestral winds including: flute, oboe d’amore, clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, timpani, harp, and piano. The German poem consists of five stanzas and when translated to English reads:

At midnight

I kept watch
and looked up to heavens;
no star of all the hosts of stars
smiled on meat midnight.

At midnight

I thought
out to the dark limits;
no vision of light
brought me comfort
at midnight.

At midnight

I attended to
to the beating of my heart;
a single pulse of sorrow
was set ablaze
at midnight.

At midnight

I fought the battle,
O Mankind, of your sufferings;
I could not gain the victory
by my own strength
at midnight.

At midnight

I gave my strength
into Thy hands!
Lord, over death and life
thou keep’st the watch
at midnight![6]

1902 – Hill Song No. 1 Percy Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (1882-1961) was a composer, pianist, and collector of folksongs. Born in Brighton, Victoria, he spent the first 13 years of his life in Melbourne. In 1895 Grainger began studying at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1901, he and his mother moved to London, where he established a career as a pianist. He began composing while in London but chose not to promote himself as a composer until after 1910, when he felt he had a strong reputation as a pianist. He moved to the United States at the onset of World War I in 1914, and served as a bandsman in the US Army from 1917-1919. After his mother committed suicide by jumping from a New York skyscraper in 1922, he spent time traveling Europe and Australia. He became a prominent educator in the 1930s and continued to perform as a pianist, compose, and lecture for the rest of his life.[7] Some of his important works for band include Colonial Song (1912/1918), Irish Tune from County Derry (1918), Shepherd’s Hey (1918), Lincolnshire Posy (1937/1940), and The Power of Rome and the Christian Heart (1947).

Grainger composed Hill Song No. 1 in 1902 while living in London. Grainger had developed a love for double reed instruments, and the piece was orchestrated for two piccolos, six oboes, six English horns, six bassoons, and a contrabassoon. Hill Song No. 1 was Grainger’s attempt at writing a piece free of pulse, and he wrote in the score that the only reason he used bar lines was to help facilitate the performers reading the piece. In 1907, Grainger borrowed musical ideas from Hillsong No. 1 and composed Hillsong No. 2 for 24 winds. [/footnote] He wrote that both compositions arose from a longing for hill countries.[8]

1909 – First Suite in Eb Gustav Holst

Gustav Theodore von Holst (1874 – 1934) was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and named after his grandfather, who composed harp music. He began composing at twelve and was appointed his first organist and choirmaster position at seventeen. After spending two months in Oxford studying counterpoint, he and his family decided that he should go to London and study at the Royal College of Music, beginning in 1893.[9] While at the Royal College of Music, he became fast friends with classmate Ralph (pronounced “Rafe”) Vaughan Williams. They began a lifelong friendship that would include sharing their music for thoughts and critiques.[10] In 1905 he was appointed the music director at St. Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith, where he taught until his passing in 1934.[11]

Holst’s First Suite in Eb was written in 1909, but did not receive its first performance until 1920 when the Royal Military School of Music Band premiered it. The three movements, Chaconne, Intermezzo, and March, are to be played without pause.[12] In The New Winds of Change, Frank Battisti shares conductor Richard Franko Goldman’s thoughts on the First Suite:

Richard Franko Goldman proclaimed that the Holst First Suite was the “…first available and universally recognized original band work of the century…. The credit belongs to the work for reasons other than simply the priority of the time. For this work…together with his Second Suite in F Major of 1911, established an altogether new style of idiomatic band writing and, one might say with all justice, a new conception of band sound and of the kind forthright music most suited to the performing medium.[13]

Colin Matthews’ edition of the First Suite was published in 1984 and is the most commonly performed version of the piece.


1911 – Second Suite in F Gustav Holst

Second Suite in F was composed in 1911, but Holst forgot about the piece until he was asked to write another suite for military band in 1921. The Military School of Band Music premiered the Second Suite on June 30, 1922. The suite is full of folk music and has four movements, including:

    1. March
    2. Song without Words
    3. Song of the Blacksmith
    4. Fantasia on ‘Dargason’

The first movement includes three tunes, “Glorishears,” “Swansea Town,” and “Claudy Banks,” in the pattern A-B-C-A-B. The second movement, Song without Words, is a setting of the English song “I’ll Love My Love.” Movement three quotes, “A Blacksmith Courted Me.” Holst combines the 16th-century folk song “The Dargason” in the final movement with “Greensleeves.”[14] Colin Matthews published an updated edition of the Second Suite in F in 1984.

1913 – Dionysiaques, Op. 62 Florent Schmitt

French composer Florent Schmitt (1870-1958) did not love music as a child. His parents were amateur musicians and tried to teach him organ and piano, but had little success. However, after he discovered the music of Chopin, Schmitt became fascinated with his study of music. He entered the Paris Conservatory in 1889, where he studied composition with Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré. Schmitt joined the military during his time at the Conservatory and played flute in the military band. He won the Prix de Rome in 1900 and the Grand Prix de Musique de Paris in 1957.[15]

Dionysiaques was written in 1913 for the Garde Républicaine Band in Paris, but due to the start of World War I was not premiered until June 9, 1925. “Dionysiaques” refers to Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of wine.[16] Dionysiaques uses four motives that constantly change through transposition, inversion, extension, and truncation. It is in an A B A’ B’ form and includes an introduction and coda.[17] The score includes an extensive and unique instrumentation that includes an alto horn in Eb, Eb piccolo bugle, bugles in A and B, and contrabass sarrusophone in C.[18]


  1. 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). 45.
  2. Peter J. Burkholder, James B. Sinclair, and Gayle Sherwood Magee. "Ives, Charles." Grove Music Online. 16 Oct. 2013; https://www-oxfordmusiconline-com.libe2.lib.ttu.edu/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-1002252967. Accessed 17 Dec. 2022.
  3. Robert Guy Vastano, A Biographical and Theoretical Analysis of the Trumpet in Selected Chamber Works of Charles Ives: An Aid to Performance, DMA diss, (Austin, TX: The University of Texas, 2002). 73.
  4. Norman E. Smith, Program Notes for Band (Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, 2002). 320.
  5. Jeffrey Thomas Hopper, The Rückert Lieder of Gustav Mahler (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers The State University of New Jersey, 2001). ii.
  6. Ibid. 100.
  7. Malcolm Gillies and David Pear. "Grainger, (George) Percy." Grove Music Online. 2001; https://www-oxfordmusiconline-com.lib-e2.lib.ttu.edu/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000011596. Accessed 17 Dec. 2022.
  8. Norman E. Smith, Program Notes for Band. 250.
  9. Imogen Holst, Holst (London: Faber and Faber, 1981), 13.
  10. Ibid. 17.
  11. Ibid. 29-30.
  12. Norman E. Smith, Program Notes for Band. 295.
  13. Frank L. Battisti, The New Winds of Change. 18-19.
  14. Norman E. Smith, Program Notes for Band. 297.
  15. Diane C. Janda, Dionysiaques, Op. 62: An Original Composition for Band by Florent Schmitt, DMA diss. (Cincinnati, OH: University of Cincinnati, 1993). 2-4.
  16. Ibid. 15.
  17. Ibid. 20.
  18. Chad Nicholson, Great Music for Wind Band: A Guide to the Top 100 Works in Grades IV, V, VI (Meredith Music Publications, 2009). 160.


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