Hello everyone. The other day, some very sad news was announced. The All Japan Band Competition has been cancelled. This may be unavoidable, but I also felt so helpless. So why not look back on past famous performances and learn more about the composers at this time of year? Now let's accumulate knowledge and wait for the fun music to begin again as usual!
This time I would like to focus on Claude Thomas Smith. Speaking of which, I hope it will be a good opportunity to remember that there was such a performance and to listen to it anew. Let's get to it!
1. Who is Smith?
Claude Thomas Smith is an American composer who was active in the middle of the 20th century. He left about 125 brass band songs, from high-difficulty to educationally simple ones. After studying horn composition in college, he also became the editor-in-chief of a publishing company with a high school teacher. Thanks to that, he focused on self-publishing. He has a close relationship with the United States Army Band, and he was entrusted with many songs, including some of the famous songs you all know.
2. Speaking of Smith
What do you think of Smith's songs? I think everyone probably thought of “those three songs”. Let's talk about those three songs!
I. Festival Variations
The best-known song among Smith's brass band songs. It is sometimes referred to as a monumental piece of brass band music in the 20th century. This song was commissioned by the Washington Band of the United States Air Force and has caused a great deal of excitement since its premiere. The horn in the head is very cool. Even in the brass band competitions, it has been performed many times and produced some famous performances. What should be noted here is the performance of Seika Girls High School in 2013. Now that we've been at home for a long time, it might be interesting to listen to it again.
Ⅱ. Brilliant dance
This is also a song that has many hard-core fans. This song is a song that challenges the limits of the performance technique and music standard of the United States Air Force Band, which boasts the highest ability in the American brass band world. It seems that the evaluation at the premiere is divided, but it is certainly not a song that can be played easily. It is said to be the most difficult of Smith's songs, and he has many difficult songs. I think there are many people who are impressed by the piccolo trumpet solo in the latter half of the song. At the brass band competition, the performances of Seika Girls High School in 2009 and Okayama Gakugeikan High School in 2011 are still new in my memory.
Ⅲ. Variations on a Hymn by Louis Bourgeois
Is this song less well-known than the above two songs? Still, it's a fairly famous song. It seems that it was composed as a consignment by the US Marine Corps band. The cornet solo in the center of the song tests the skill of the player. Personally, it's also my favorite song, and at the brass band competition, I can mention Seika Girls High School and Okayama Gakugeikan High School. Which is your favorite?
3. The problem of bullying the horn
For Smith's songs (especially Festival Variations), the horn sheet music is known to be quite difficult. It may be because Smith himself was a horn player, but there is an story that he intentionally made it difficult because the person who was the chief horn player for the Washington band was Smith’s rival. It's so difficult that you might think that no matter how much you look at it as a rivalry, isn't this overkill? It means that many people are perfectly matched over time.
How was that? There are many other famous songs from Smith as well, aside from these three songs. Smith's songs are thought to be difficult, but in fact, there are many educational songs that can be played by small and medium-sized bands. From such a point, it seems that Smith's influence on the world of brass band is quite large. Please take this opportunity to listen again!!!
Music never stops!
A. Reed & C.T. Smith Tokyo Geidai Wind Orchestra