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Gustav Holst: "A Moorside Suite"

Although Gustav Holst's A Moorside Suite is not technically a piece that belongs in the traditional wind repertoire, it is a piece that was written for a group of winds alone and there is a version of it for full concert band. A Moorside Suite is written for a traditional British brass band consisting of the following instrumentation: Eb Soprano Cornet, Solo, 1st, and 2nd Bb Cornets, Flugelhorn, 3 Eb Tenor Horns, 2 Bb Baritones, 2 Euphoniums, 1st, 2nd, and Bass Trombones, and Eb and Bb Tubas. All the instruments (except for the trombones) are conical and, like a wind ensemble, instruments are traditionally only played one on a part with the exception of the cornets (compare to clarinets in a wind ensemble).

You can find more information on British brass bands here and here.

Gustav Holst, A Moorside Suite, I. Scherzo

Grimethorpe Colliery RJB Band, Garry Cutt, conductor

Gustav Holst, A Moorside Suite, II. Nocturne

Grimethorpe Colliery RJB Band, Garry Cutt, conductor

Gustav Holst, A Moorside Suite, III. March

Grimethorpe Colliery RJB Band, Garry Cutt, conductor

These program notes on A Moorside Suite are taken from the Gustav Holst website.

(1928) A Moorside Suite

- Scherzo

- Nocturne

- March

In 1927 Holst was commissioned to write a competition piece for the BBC and the National Brass Band Festival Committee. The result was A Moorside Suite.

The suite has three movements, and upon a first listen, one hears a noticeable sophistication that was lacking in the military suites. The first movement seems almost reserved in its impact. The rhythm definitely darts about, but it doesn't really go towards any harmonic climax. It leaves the listener almost trapped in an intellectual game of sorts. The second movement, the Nocturne, is written beautifully with its descending thirds and sixths. It is a warmth that Holst was just beginning to discover, perhaps only matched by Love on thy heart, from the Seven Partsongs for female choir, or the Lyric Movement. It almost seems like a mature response to I love my love. In fact, he also arranged this movement for strings, and there is a great recording conducted by his daughter, Imogen Holst, on Lyrita. The last movement is reminiscent of the Marching Song from Two Songs without Words.

Composer Gordon Jacob arranged the Moorside Suite for strings in 1952 and later made another arrangement of the piece for military band under the title Moorisde March in 1960 (available from Boosey and Hawkes).

It is said that Holst was very happy upon hearing the fifteen brass bands play his piece in the competition in 1928. The competition was eventually won by the Black Dyke Mills Band.

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