Gustav Holst
Mars, Bringer of War: for 6 trombones, bass trombone, tenor tuba and timpani (optional)

Arranged by Randall Malmstrom

N.p., ,
Date of Publication: 2013

Grade 4.


The current year at the time of this writing (2016) is the centenary of Holst’s completion of The Planets in 1916; in that year, the Battle of the Somme claimed over 1 million lives. Wikipedia currently lists 14 ongoing conflicts worldwide, each resulting in more than a thousand casualties annually, and with over 4 million cumulative casualties. Despite the composer’s assertion that this music represented only ‘a state of mind,’ it is powerful stuff, and unfortunately, Mars is still very much in business.

This is an imaginative arrangement, kept in its original key. All players have interesting and challenging parts, and all take turns maintaining the relentless 5/4 ostinato rhythm through the first 57 measures. Range for first trombone is G-e2; 2nd trombone goes up to e-flat2, and 6th ranges from C–a-flat1. 3rd and 5th parts also have notes in the trigger-pedal range. Bass trombone range is FF–c1. Trombone 1 is given in tenor clef, other parts are in bass. Timpani play C/B, A and G/G-sharp. The arranger indicates that tenor tuba may be substituted by a trombone, and bass trombone by a tuba; alto and contrabass trombones may also be used.

I think this is a great piece for a college level ensemble. Randall Malmstrom plays trombone professionally in Portland, OR. He has arranged extensively for the trombone.

Reviewer: Keith Davies Jones
Review Published January 31, 2019