American Games


symphonic wind ensemble
Wind Band
3(II=afl.III=picc).3.Ebcl(=asax ad lib).3.2.cbsn.asax - 4.3.3.euph.2 - timp - perc(3): SD/TD/BD/tam-t/cyms/2 susp.cym/tamb/bells/whip/rattle/claves/tgl/wdbl/glsp

Commissioned by the BBC for the 1991 Promenade Concerts

First Performance
23.7.91, BBC Promenade Concert, Royal Albert Hall, London: Royal Northern College of Music Wind Band/Timothy Reynish

Score 0-571-57143-3 (fp) on sale, score and parts 0-571-56413-5 (fp) on sale

Programme Notes

Medley for Wind Band Introduction: Stately – Fast, with energy – At a very moderate speed; a little wayward in feeling, and with a sense of elegance – Slow and sustained; very gently – Very fast, with excitement – Driving forward – At a moderate speed; very simple and calm – Lively – Sustained; as at the opening Since the mid-1980s, Nicholas Maw has spent most of his time in the United States; but for some years this change in his surroundings found no echo in his music. However, when he was asked to write a work for wind band, the medium suggested to him associations with American youth and vigour, city and small-town life, sporting events and other outdoor occasions, and in more general terms the sense which the United States can still convey of unlimited space and boundless possibilities. At the same time, there are only a few elements of American Games which belong to specifically American musical traditions: what Maw calls a “whiff of marching bands” in the first movement; a few hints here and there of the harmonies and voicing of jazz arrangers; and, in the sixth movement, a chorale which the composer describes as “my version of a Baptist hymn”. As for the other half of the title, the word “Games” indicates that this was a work which was enjoyable to write: by Maw’s standards, it was finished unusually quickly. It is also intended to provide enjoyment for its players – not least in overcoming its considerable rhythmic and technical difficulties along the way – and for its audiences. The different sections of the symphonic wind ensemble are highlighted in turn in seven strongly characterised movements, the last an extended quick finale. These are framed by an introduction and coda, and the whole work is played in a continuous sequence lasting about 20 minutes. American Games was commissioned by the BBC for the Proms, and first performed at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 23 July 1991 by the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra. Since then, it has been played by numerous ensembles, especially in the USA. Anthony Burton Please contact Anthony Burton for permission to use this.

Licensing Information

News & Reviews

'American Games' reviews

'…a sequence of dances which make up a vigorous rhythmic romp, brilliantly written for the instruments.' The Guardian (Edward Greenfield), 25th July 1991 Read more

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