Mudcat Café message #2088749 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #102684   Message #2088749
Posted By: JohnInKansas
27-Jun-07 - 10:55 PM
Thread Name: Folk music parts for concert band
Subject: RE: Folk music parts for concert band
I seem to have missed this thread when it first appeared, and while I can't offer much helpful it does stir some (mostly) fond memories.

I played in a college Concert Band for a couple of years, with a conductor who was a real purist and insisted on playing only music specifically written for Concert Band. No "concert band arrangements of orchestral music" for us.

The suggestions from GUEST,melinda, 25 Jun 07 - 05:43 PM are vaguely familiar, and seem representative of selections we played, although the only two pieces I remember specifically that we played were:

Invention On Two American Folk Tunes1, by Andrew Kazdin. This was an incredibly complex piece that we played for the essential reason that nobody else could and for the secondary reason that Andy was assistant conductor of our band. (More recently he's been Director of Music Education for Brookline MA public schools, and may still be there(?).) While this would qualify for the "folk" category, it requires a lot of rehearsal to get it just right.

Circus Polka, by Igor Stravinski, which we played because it was historically significant and nobody else would play it. I'm told the elephants hated it, and I'm inclined to cast my opinion with the elephants, although with enough work it was "musical after a fashion." And it's hardly "folk," although it has a "mature reputation."

1 Jacket notes from the (vinyl) recording made in 1962, a couple of years after I left the band:

Invention on Two American Folk Tunes, by Andrew Kazdin, was conceived by the composer while working in 1954 as a recording engineer for a young student folksinger. Peggy Seeger. Two of the songs recorded by Miss Seeger, "Katy Cruel" (a lively dance tune), and "When First unto This Country a Stranger I Came" (a slow ballad) as well as a countertune devised by Mr. Kazdin form the basis of the thematic material. The work falls into two large sections, divided by three staccato chords at the climax of an extended fugato. Although thematic development is achieved throughout the work by fragmentation, augmentation, and diminution, each of the tunes does appear without alteration in the section which it dominates: "Katy Cruel" in the high woodwinds and xylophone near the beginning of the work, and "When First unto This Country    as a French horn solo at the start of the second section.

Mr. Kazdin received the Bachelor of Music Degree in composition from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1959. He is presently a graduate student in industrial management at M.I.T. and Assistant Conductor of the Concert Band. The Invention, completed in 1957, was preceded by three other band works: Marche Baroque (1953). Prelude and Happy Dance (1955), and the score for the M.I.T. film "The Social Beaver" (1956) which was made into a suite of the same name in 1959.

Not particularly useful for the purpose at hand, but I thought perhaps an interesting side note.

A number of composers have used/incorporated folk tunes, and the composers listed above are some of the better known among them. Not all of them sound realy "folky" in concert arrangements, but that the tunes are preserved in some excellent compositions is reassuring.