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Classic test-pieces revisited No1: Variations for Brass Band (Vaughan Williams)

Prof Stephen Allen takes an in depth look at one of the greatest test pieces written for the brass band medium — 'Variations for Brass Band' by Vaughan Williams.

vAUGHAN wILLIAMS
  Vaughan Williams listened to the National Brass Band Championships in 1956

In the first of a new series on 4BR, Prof Stephen Allen takes an in depth look at some of the classic works for the brass band medium to examine them in a wider context away from the contesting stage.

His first choice is 'Variations for Brass Band' by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a work which he has studied at great length and which will be the subject of an eagerly awaited analysis in the Musical Times in the near future..

Landmark

Composed for the 1957 National Championships of Great Britain 'Variations for Brass Band' was described by Frank Wright as being, "a new landmark in the history contesting — perhaps the most significant in the whole history of brass bands."

Stephen looks at this claim and the work, and how it is in his opinion inextricably linked to his late symphonic output — most notably his Ninth Symphony, written around the same time just a year or so before his death in 1958.

The Presenter

Prof Stephen Allen PhD (D. Phil Oxon) is Professor in Popular Music at Rider University in New Jersey.

https://www.rider.edu/faculty/stephen-arthur-allen

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