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MAKING IT BETTER: Creating A Wind Repertoire in UK - A Personal Reflection by Timothy Reynish

A Personal Reflection on Forty Commissioning Performing Publishing by Timothy Reynish


Tim Reynish

I confess that I got a little depressed while writing this booklet on Midsummer’s Day, so I escaped to Facebook and found inspiration from a colleague in South Carolina who had posted:

Early morning walk listening to Buxton Orr’s John Gay Suite. Charming wind ensemble piece. Big thank you to Tim Reynish for all the work he did to put it and so many other pieces from Europe on record and into the repertoire. Nothing wrong with Persichetti, Gould, Grainger et al but there’s a huge survey of modern European repertoire that we have because of his work. I certainly wouldn’t know this piece and the last movement gets you dancing! - Roger Keane, South Carolina on Facebook 21st June 2022

Inspired, I wrote to thank him and sent him a link to my latest and probably last commission, the Cello Concerto by Luis Serrano Alarcón. He replied:

As a young American band musician, I was gobbling up everything I could and in high school I discovered your series with the RNCM, German wind band classics, French wind band classics, etc., on Chandos. That set me toward the repertoire recordings you laid down with various American bands, and I’ve been charmed by many of the pieces I’ve found from those discs. It’s interesting to me to see how modern repertoire in the European tradition, rooted as it is in community rather than academic bands, takes a different track than ours, and as ever, it seems to me that British music is sort of in between those two. Let me add a voice of encouragement for your pamphlet; I’d be an eager reader. Enjoyed the Alarçon very much. A few of my former students (I’m a former school band conductor now teaching primary school music) performed Duende with their university wind orchestra right before COVID. Tremendous piece!


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.

To read more, please download PDF as enclosed.

Reynish CBDNA BOOK 6
Download PDF • 1.10MB


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