Original Music for Brass Band Contests

Prior to 1913 music for brass band had consisted largely of arrangements of classical or popular music. Although there had been a long tradition of composers (usually bandmasters) writing original marches and light music, there certainly had been no original music used in the major contests. This changed when Percy Fletcher’s Labour and Love was written and used in the National Brass Band Championships at the Crystal Palace in 1913. This broke the ice and many composers over the following years were inspired, commissioned or otherwise persuaded to write for brass bands.

lalThe adoption of original works in the contest arena was somewhat slow to begin with but gained momentum through the 1920s and 1930s. A number of key composers led the way and the list of the major works used in these early years of original test pieces shows whom we have to thank for rich variety of original works we enjoy today. Here is a list of the composers and their original works for major contests from 1913 until WW2.

Granville Bantock
Oriental Rhapsody (1930)
Prometheus Unbound (1933)

Hubert Bath
Freedom (1922)
Honour and Glory (1931)

Arthur Bliss
Kenilworth (1936)

Edward Elgar
Severn Suite (1930)

Percy Fletcher
Labour and Love (1913)
An Epic Symphony (1926)

Henry Geehl
Oliver Cromwell (1923)
On the Cornish Coast (1924)
Robin Hood (1936)

Gustav Holst
A Moorside Suite (1928)

Herbert Howells
Pageantry (1934)

John Ireland
A Downland Suite (1932)
Comedy Overture (1934)

Cyril Jenkins
Coriolanus (1914)
Life Divine (1921)
Victory (1929)
Zamora (1929)

Thomas Keighley
Macbeth (1925)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1926)
The Merry Wives of Windsor (1927)
Lorenzo (1928)
The Crusaders (1932)
A Northern Rhapsody (1935)

Haydn Morris
Springtime (1931)

J. Weston Nicholl
The Viking (1923)

Denis Wright
Joan of Arc (1925)
Hanover (1926)
The White Rider (1927)
Tintagel (1930)
Princess Nada (1933)
Thalassa (The Sea) (1933)
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