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Karel Husa - "Concerto for Wind Orchestra"

Based on yesterday's post on Apotheosis of this Earth, this blog post will continue with the music of Karel Husa and explore his Concerto for Wind Orchestra.

Written in 1982, Husa's Concerto for Wind Orchestra is a relatively late piece in Husa's output for winds and was written long after Husa had been established a composer in band circles. The piece was a commission from Michigan State University and was the winner of the first Sudler International Composition Competition prize, a biennial prize given by the John Philip Sousa Foundation. You can find more information on the work as well as recording links below.

Below is the program note from the score and reviews of the work.

Concerto for Wind Ensemble was commissioned by the Michigan State University Alumni Band and dedicated to the Michigan State University Bands Director, Stanley De Rusha. The first performance was on December 3, 1982, by the Michigan State University Wind Symphony, guest-conducted by the composer, in the new Wharton Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Michigan State University.

Divided into three movements, the Concerto for Wind Ensemble, is meant to be a display of virtuoso passages given to solo instruments as well as to the groups of the ensemble. In the Fanfare of the first movement, the brass section is “concertizing” in groups of four brass quintets (2 trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba or baritone), spread from left to right in back; the saxophones (S, A, T, B) are placed in front of the brass quintets and the woodwinds occupy the front of the stage, with percussion on the left and right side.

These groups, like the brass quintets, play in the concertante manner, especially in the first and last movements. At the same time, each movement will contain individual solo passages, such as the timpani in the beginning (Drum Ceremony), the long flute solo and later English horn and other low woodwinds in the Elegy, and then numerous instruments in the third movement, the Perpetual Motion. The composition of the Concerto was prompted by the excellence of wind and percussion players today and by the incredible growth of wind ensembles, orchestras, bands in the last twenty-five years. It is intended for their enjoyment.

"...a powerful study of wind instruments... destined to be a classic."

Ken Glickman, Lansing State Journal, 05/12/1982

Like much of his music, the work exploits thrilling rhythmic patterns, and quarter-tones. All three movements reveal Husa's characteristically brilliant orchestrations. And, like his other works, the Concerto will surely secure a high place in contemporary wind repertoire.

Derrick Henry, The Boston Globe, 14/04/1982

Below is a Naxos recording link (UMD students only) and an Amazon link. No YouTube recording is available.

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