Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony in D minor (his eighth) was composed in 1956, when he was in his 84th year. It is noticeably different from its predecessors in its diminutive scale and comparatively short length. However, the symphony is scored for an unusually large percussion ensemble including vibraphone, xylophone, tubular bells, glockenspiel, tuned gongs and celeste. In the Toccata, the fourth and final movement, Vaughan Williams uses the enlarged percussion forces extensively - the eight symphony is therefore in some ways a highly imaginative work, perhaps even an experimental one.
Despite his advanced years, Vaughan Williams was still continuing to experiment with innovative orchestration and interesting instrument choices. By the time he came to write this symphony, he had already composed concertos for harmonica and tuba, which were quite unusual for the time.
This brass band transcription tries to remain as true to the original percussion writing as possible, but with the omission of the tuned gongs and celeste—for obvious practical performance reasons.
This arrangement has been recorded by the Leyland Band, conducted by Thomas Wyss, and appears on the CD Crown Imperial . A soundclip is available here
Item Code: TPBB-038
Grade: 2nd Section and above