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On the Shoulders of Giants 2010

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”
Letter from Isaac Newton to Robert Hooke, 5 February 1676

The art of brass playing embraces a range of diverse approaches and styles. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the musical melting pot of the USA. On the Shoulders of Giants pays tribute to this diversity and to the great American brass virtuosi whose legacy has provided the foundation for countless brass giants of today.

The opening movement, Fanfares, reflects on the legendary Chicago Symphony Orchestra brass section. It has been suggested that the much-admired and distinctive style of the CSO Brass was initially driven by the Germanic repertoire favoured by the early music directors. Here the opening bars from the finale of Bruckner’s 8th symphony provide the departure point for the musical journey.

The work continues (attacca) with an Elegy. America’s role as the birthplace of jazz and two of her leading brass lights are remembered here – Miles Davis (through the sound world created for him by Gil Evans) – and the father of lyrical trombone playing Tommy Dorsey. In acknowledgement that jazz owes its origins to Negro spirituals, the gospel song Steal Away underpins the movement.

The finale, a Fantasie Brillante, pays homage to the turn of the century brass virtuosi of Sousa Band fame. The centrepiece of the movement finds Herbert L. Clarke, Arthur Pryor and Simone Mantia stepping from the mists of time to deliver snippets from their greatest solos (together with passing references to Sousa’s highest paid soloist, drummer August Helmecke). Moments of individual virtuosity lead to a series of ensemble power chords - giant footsteps in musical imagery. Finally, an allusion to the “chess-like” nature of brass band contesting brings the work to a dramatic conclusion.

On the Shoulders of Giants was commissioned by The Cory Band and The National Youth Brass Band of Wales with additional funding from Ty Cerdd – Music Centre Wales. The work was published for the 158th British Open Brass Band Championships, 2010.

Composer: Peter Graham
Type: Test Piece

Date Contest Band Position

Printed from https://brassbandresults.co.uk/