Cornelis Jordaan·34 videos

Today I’m orchestrating a piece of piano music composed by Haydn. This is part of a collection of 12 pieces that he put together for beginners. Along this same vein, I try to keep the orchestration simple as well.

OrchestrationOnline·67 videos

The introduction to my series, a course on the practical craft of orchestration from the perspective of a professional orchestrator.

OrchestrationOnline·67 videos

A video installment in my daily series of tips. Please follow me on Twitter for the Orchestration Online Tip of the Day at #OrchestrationOL, or join the Orchestration Online Facebook group for feedback, resources, and advice.

Tips of the Day for this week:
Monday, February 18: Oboe Vibrato Speed…
Tuesday, February 19: Oboe Articulation…
Wednesday, February 20: The Problems of Dynamics in the Oboe’s Lowest Register…
Thursday, February 21: Oboe Breathing and Phrasing…
Friday, February 22: Slurring Up vs. Slurring Down on the Oboe…
Saturday, February 23: The Characteristics of the Oboe’s Optimum Register…

Andrew Ford·8 videos

Andrew Ford’s first symphony, composed in 2008. The Orchestra of the Australian National Academy of Music, conducted by Brett Dean. Scored for 3 flutes (all doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (II. doubling bass), 2 bassoons (II. doubling contra), 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 1 tuba, piano, 1 percussion, timpani (+ roto-tom and bass drum), strings.

Program note:

Nobody today writes a symphony — especially not a first symphony — without having to explain why they have adopted the title.

Ten years ago, my friend and colleague Martin Buzacott told me he thought I should compose ‘a symphony in D minor’. At first I thought he was joking, but he was perfectly serious. I was never convinced about the ‘D minor’ bit, but the idea of the symphony has nagged away at me ever since. So, from time to time, has Buzacott.

I have never counted my ‘opuses’. By now, I suppose there must be about a hundred of them. All but three of these pieces have descriptive titles, rather than generic labels. The exceptions are my first string quartet (1985) and my first and fourth chamber concertos (1979 and 2002). But in recent years, I have become aware that in most cases there’s quite a gap between the music I have written and the name I have called it by. In Snatches of Old Lauds, for example, there is no discernible connection between the five-minute solo for bass clarinet, and the quote from Hamlet I’ve pinched for its title. The musical ideas have seemed to be striving for their independence, and therefore my writing roughly 20 minutes of music entitled simply ‘Symphony’ is an acknowledgement of this.

Is this, then, a piece about the music only? Not quite. More than any musical term I can think of, ‘Symphony’ comes with the baggage of all the great symphonies of the past. Even so great a symphonist as Brahms found himself paralysed by the example of Beethoven. But one can’t simply put the history of the symphony out of one’s mind, or why call it a symphony at all? Why not use one of those generic no-names so beloved of composers in the 1960s: Music for Orchestra? Piece No 12?

I felt that if I was going to call piece ‘Symphony’ — and I even toyed with ‘Symphony No 1’, but that just seemed to be tempting fate — then there had to be a real reason for it. Just as you wouldn’t call a poem ‘Sonnet’ and then write 23 lines that didn’t scan, if you take on the word ‘Symphony’, you must deal with first subjects and second subjects, developments and recapitulations, scherzos and slow movements, key relationships and codas. You may choose to reject these things, but you’d better have a good reason. I chose to keep them all, even though they are not laid out in a conventional manner. Within the single movement span, however, you will find clear traces of the component parts of a standard symphony. They tend to interrupt each other and occasionally they superimpose themselves; things come in the wrong order; what sets out as something like a first subject later returns as something like a scherzo; the slow movement and the coda are one and the same: but it’s all there. There is even a hint of D minor.

There are three more influences I ought to mention. One is my wife, Anni, to whom the Symphony is dedicated. She told me she wanted a long tune at the end, and she has it. There’s also a secondary dedication on the final page: ‘in memoriam Ralph Vaughan Williams’. I have listened to a lot of his music this year (the 50th anniversary of his death) and especially the nine symphonies, so strong and personal and, to my ears, ever more impressive. I am not aware of his musical influence on this work, but I would not be unhappy to discover it.

Finally there is the Australian National Academy of Music, its staff and students and its artistic director. I wrote this piece for them to play and for Brett Dean to conduct, and I am very grateful to them for their efforts and for their art.

Musicroom UK·58 videos

Mark O’Connor·214 videos

Americana Symphony “Variations on Appalachia Waltz”

In 2009, Mark O’Connor made history by being the first violin player or fiddle player in several decades to compose a “symphony.” O’Connor’s Americana Symphony was premiered at the Cabrillo Music Festival, a contemporary music festival in Santa Cruz to a rousing standing ovation! The Americana Symphony quickly was selected by the venerable Baltimore Symphony and conductor Marin Alsop for recording. The music can be purchased at the Mark O’Connor Digital Music Store at

A Journey Through the Soul of America. Mark O’Connor talks about he created his Symphony. “Americana Symphony” may well be regarded one day as one of this country’s great gifts to the classical music canon, as well as being a pivotal moment in the rise of the new American classical music” -David McGee (Spin, Rolling Stone,, “a monumental work…inevitably will be compared to Copland” -Associated Press “as unrepentantly tonal, accessibly melodic and sonically spacious as a great Elmer Bernstein film score” -Los Angeles Times “This is one of the most enjoyable contemporary orchestral CD’s heard in quite some time.” – The Classical Music Network “Mark O’Connor provides his answer to a question that has intrigued U. S. composers since the debut of Dvorak’s New World Symphony in 1892: “How do you write the great American Symphony?” -David Wallace- Juilliard School

The symphony is scored for large symphony orchestra: 3333/4331/Timp/Perc(3)Pno/Harp+Strings. The music is available to perform, rental copies as well as PDFs are available by going to http://www.markoconnorcom (sheet music page), Projects page for a free orchestral downloadable score, or write to us about rentals on the contact page.

On O’Connor’s ‘Appalachia Waltz’
“What Bach did was, he took all these dances from all the known world around him and put them in suite form. Old dances, new dances, courtly dances, peasant dances. And what Mark did was, he took this piece that is somewhat based on the Norwegian fiddling style, with the drone and that, wrote it in Santa Fe, and called it `Appalachia Waltz.’ It’s just so moving. It’s traditional. It is new. It comes from many different places, but it’s authentic. So after a long Bach evening, rather than play more Bach, this is the perfect thing.” -Yo-Yo Ma

NOTE: Composers, this piece illustrates the many tonal colors available to each instrument.  I hope it inspires you to create music that hears them in new ways.

avroklassiek·313 videos

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Radio Filharmonisch Orkest o.l.v. Edward Gardner

18 december 2011, 11:00 uur, Grote Zaal van het Concertgebouw Amsterdam.

Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances

wearealberta·45 videos

Daniel Belland and Samantha Semler, winners of the ESO’s Young Composers Project, work on their original works to be performed by the ESO at Symphony Under the Sky, presented by ATB Financial, at Hawrelak Park, August 31 to September 3, 2012

Newhouse, author/instructor of our online courses Orchestration 1 and 2 and Music Composition for Film and TV, on November 14th.

Ben Newhouse has worked as a music supervisor and composer on dozens of television shows, films, and stage productions for media corporations including ABC, FOX, MTV, and Disney. He has arranged movie themes, sixties pop music, Broadway shows, and scored for several full-length feature films using Digital Performer.

Mark McAnaney·49 videos

Mark McAnaney explains tips for orchestration, some on major groups of orchestra, then section blending specific to strings, then some pertaining to bass players in particular, for Bootsy Collins Funk University as a guest Professor.