Making It Better
Creating a wind repertoire in the UK
A Personal Reflection on 40 Years of Commissioning, Performing & Publishing
by Dr Tim Reynish

We live in a golden age for wind music. At no time since the 18th century have so many composers written for wind, and at no time also since that great classical era have so many Harmonie or wind bands been active in both civilian and military life. The interest has largely moved from the courts and parade grounds into the band rooms, schools and universities, but world wind music is more vital in this century than in any other since the Austria Hungary Empire. Sadly, the general attitude of the world of music towards wind music is still to dismiss it as Gebrauchsmusik best suited for education, entertainment, and ceremonial.

The repertoire has changed little; it comprises marches, selections, transcribed overtures and specially composed works among which those of a light character are the general favourites.                                            The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 1980.

My apologia is for having shared this snobbish attitude with the New Grove for the first forty years of my career, a career spent largely as principal horn in symphony and opera orchestras following a degree at Cambridge. While at Cambridge I did promote one wind band concert to raise money for a chamber orchestra tour of Germany and we played Alford and Sousa marches, Johann Strauss and selections from Eric Coates, all the wind band music that I knew of. 

It was my appointment to the Royal Northern College of Music in 1975 as Tutor in Conducting which was to introduce me to the real wind band world, especially after becoming Head of School of Wind and Percussion in 1977. My predecessor, the great trumpeter Philip Jones, advised me of the importance of putting constant pressure on players by developing their experience through frequent performance and this led to a regular series of wind orchestra and chamber concerts and the constant search for good quality literature. This booklet is focused on over 75 works for wind ensemble that I have commissioned in the last forty years, on the composers and their contribution to the growth of repertoire, with a short survey of the early 19th century.

Read the full article here.