I play in a community band. It’s one of several in my area, actually, and I picked it more or less at random when I moved to town. I feel like I chose wisely—we play in one of the Mid-Atlantic’s largest theaters, and we draw near-capacity crowds. It doesn’t hurt that the shows are free, but I’ve played plenty of free concerts where there were more people in tuxes than in the seats.
In deciding to start this new blog, which I recognize may never find an audience beyond my friends and family, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the pieces we’re preparing for upcoming concerts.
We only play a few big “band” pieces each year (not to be confused with “big band” pieces, of which we play plenty). For our next concert in a couple weeks we’re playing a band arrangement of a popular orchestral work by Emmanuel Chabrier called España.
Chabrier was a French composer (shocker, with a name like that) who lived his whole life in the miserable 19th century. 150 years ago, while the United States were busy dividing over slavery, Chabrier was fresh out of law school and looking to make his way in the world as France’s Minister of the Interior.
But he couldn’t contain his passion for music, and fortunately for all of us, he kicked that nasty public service habit and eventually got to composing full-time.
He wrote España in 1883. Here’s a few things that happened that year in the U.S., for context:
- Edison established the first electric lighting system in Roselle, NJ.
- Ladies Home Journal commenced publication.
- Buffalo Bill Cody put on his first Wild West Show.
- Brooklyn Bridge openned.
He’s not as well known as some other Romantic-era composers (like, oh, Beethoven, who is so famous they named a dog movie after him), but this, his most famous work, is quite a rousing, energetic piece.
There’s some quite good renditions on YouTube if you’d like to hear it. We’re not playing it quite this fast.
- Like most college graduates, I work in a field outside my major.
- Our band arrangement is titled “España Rhapsody,” but orchestral versions that I’ve seen are usually “España, rhapsody for orchestra.”