• Gunther Schuller
  • Music for a Celebration (1980)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • 3(3pic)2+ca.2+bcl.2+cbn4331timp.6perccel.hp[+].pfstr(min 12.12.8.8.6) + offstage: 2hn.4tpt.2tbn
  • SATB & Audience
  • 6 min

Programme Note

Composer’s Note:
Music for a Celebration is intended to function as a celebratory, festive “overture” with a special meaning for Americans since it uses a number of American National themes and tunes. Most prominent of these is our National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, but America, Hail Columbia and Dixie come in for occasional treatment as well.

The brief work is laid out in three sections: (1) introductory, quiet, “impressionistic”, lyric; (2) a kind of “battle scene”—“bombs bursting in air”, “rockets’ red glare”—the singing and playing of the National Anthem by the chorus, the orchestra and the audience. In a way it is our American 1812 Overture.

A careful listener will hear snatches of our national themes floating in and out of the orchestral background. Sometimes—in Ivesian fashion—they overlap or are heard simultaneously at times from different directions (two additional brass groups are stationed on either side of the orchestra in the balconies to heighten the spatial, visceral effect of the Battle Scene). Or a hymn fragment will rise out of the prevailing texture for a brief aural “glimpse”, only to be washed over by other sounds and themes. It is a kaleidoscopic aural collage which eventually focuses on and gives priority to our official National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banne.

With this work go my best wishes to the Springfield Symphony and Mr. Robert Gutter and its audiences. May you all spend many happy hours in your new hall.

— Gunther Schuller