Gustav Holst
First Suite in E-flat for Military Band: for brass ensemble and percussion

Arranged by Angus Armstrong

N.p., ,
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2010


Holst completed this work in 1909 and it is considered to be the first ‘serious’ piece composed for band. The original instrumentation called for 30 winds  + percussion. This arrangement successfully adapts the work to an ensemble half the original size, and makes it accessible to most college-level ensembles, for whom it is well-suited: B-flat piccolo trumpet, E-flat trumpet, 2 B-flat trumpets, 2 F horns, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, timpani/triangle, snare drum/tambourine, bass drum/cymbals (3 players) - 14 players total. Trombone ranges are G-b1 for first and E-flat-d1 for bass. First and second trombones conclude the work in style with a unison section solo in the last 10 measures.

It is written in a cheerful and tuneful style with obvious influences from English folk-music, comprised of three sections: Chaconne - Allegro moderato in 3/4 meter, Intermezzo - Vivace in 2/4 meter and March in 4/4 meter, incorrectly given here as 2/4. Holst, himself a trombone player, certainly knew how to write well for our instrument. In fact, all parts are well-written and challenging enough to be interesting, with the possible exception of the part for triangle!

The arranger was born in British Columbia and studied with Gordon Cherry at McGill University. From 1981-1993 he directed the RCMP Band in Ottawa and is currently Professor of Trombone at Carleton University.

Reviewer: Keith Davies Jones
Review Published January 31, 2019