Piece of the Week: Academic Festival Overture

PieceOfTheWeek_Academic Festival Overture

Composition Notes

“This arrangement of “Academic Festival Overture” contains most of the important themes of the original work in a setting lasting approximately 3 1/2 minutes. There are numerous cues present for bands that lack a complete lower woodwind section. The opening section should be played staccato and very lightly. In the forte passage beginning at measure 30, the music should still be played on the lighter side-never heavy. To assist in a smooth tempo change at measure 51, you may wish to conduct the last 2 beats of measure 50 at the new tempo. Instruct your students to memorize these two measures so they can give the tempo change their full attention.

I hope you and your ensemble find “Academic Festival Overture” to be an exciting and rewarding musical experience!”

– Michael Story


Composer – Brahms, Johannes

Johannes Brahms was born on May 7, 1833 in Hamburg, Germany, and died on April 3, 1897 in Vienna, Austria. He is recognized as one of the great composers of the Romantic era (1820-1900), and as a keeper of musical tradition. He had a reverence for the form and construction used by the old masters from Bach to Beethoven, and upheld this sense of order in his own music. Because of this, he was recognized in his own time as a composer in the true central German mold. Brahms knew that his artistic direction was different from that being taken by members of what was called the “New German School.” Richard Wagner and others openly attacked him for his aesthetic beliefs, but Brahms found support from artists like Joseph Joachim, J. O. Grimm, and Robert and Clara Schumann. This support was crucial because it led to his eventual popularity and success. He composed a large quantity of choral and chamber music, and a number of orchestral works. Among his larger pieces are four symphonies, the “German Requiem,” two concertos for piano, one for violin; and a double concerto for violin and violoncello. Brahms was a very reserved man who needed solitude to truly express his feelings through music; he disliked sentimentality and admired chivalry and patriotism. Some saw him as self-righteous and egotistical, but evidence also points to the contrary. Although he commanded attention from his circle of friends, and was intolerant of disagreement, he was not afraid to ask others for advice in composition, and displayed loyalty and selflessness. Even after a lifelong friendship, Clara Schumann admitted, “To me he is as much a riddle – I might almost say as much a stranger – as he was 25 years ago.”

Arranger – Story, Michael

Michael Story has written extensively for college, high school and junior high school bands as well as for professional groups, including the Houston Pops Orchestra. A versatile writer and current marching band editor for Alfred (Belwin), he is adept at focusing on the needs of the developing band. His works for young or inexperienced concert and marching bands, such as his Big and Easy marching band series, is designed to accommodate uneven instrumentation while maintaining a full band sound. Mr. Story earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from the University of Houston, where he served as an assistant band director. He works regularly with school bands in Texas, and presents band workshops throughout the country. Even as a young composer, he is already known as a dynamic and prolific writer, with more than 750 compositions published for bands and jazz ensemble. He is a driving force among the writers and clinicians of Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.

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