Ralph Vaughan Williams

Flourish for Wind Band, overture to a pageant for military band

    Description by Robert Cummings

    This "Flourish" is not to be confused with three others in Vaughan Williams' output: Flourish, for chorus and orchestra (also known as Flourish for a Coronation; 1937), Flourish for Three Trumpets (1951), and Flourish for Glorious John (1957). This is the only one for wind band and is a rather obscure composition, not usually listed in musical reference works and even in books on the composer's music. Lasting about a minute-and-a-half, Flourish for wind band was intended as an overture for a pageant, and in the decade following its premiere was lost. In 1971 the score surfaced and was finally published. Moreover, it attracted the attention of composer/arranger Roy Douglas, who fashioned versions of the piece for orchestra and a different one for wind band.

    The original by Vaughan Williams opens with a lively fanfare based on a four-note motive. Marked Maestoso, the music blazes in gaudy, brassy colors but then settles down midway through with the introduction of a serene, stately melody related to the opening motif and reminiscent of the alternate theme in the first movement of the composer's Fifth Symphony, a composition he was then working on. In the end, this cannot be considered a major rediscovery, but neither can the piece be judged a failure. It is a delicious morsel, thematically and instrumentally recognizable in an instant as the work of Vaughan Williams.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2010 Klavier Records 11171
    2007 Gia 681
    2001 Bandleader / Emblem CHM 8001
    1999 Chandos 9697
    Mark Custom Recording 4280