program notes by composition > S > Symphonic Songs for Band

Symphonic Songs for Band

Robert Russell Bennett/ed. George Ferencz

Symphonic Songs for Band is one of Robert Russell Bennett's most famous compositions for wind band. The first movement, “Serenade,” has the feeling of strumming, from which the title is obtained. “Spiritual” may seem unsophisticated, but sounds far simpler than it really is. “Celebration” recalls an old-time county fair with cheering throngs, a circus act or two, and the inevitable mule race.

Robert Russell Bennett (1894–1981) was an American composer and arranger, best known for his orchestration of Broadway and Hollywood musicals. Born in Kansas City, he was a home-schooled musician who would routinely substitute for whatever instrument might be absent from his bandmaster-father’s rehearsals. He rose to pre-eminence in New York City as an arranger for Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and others. He arranged more than 300 shows in his career but never abandoned his “serious music” aspirations. Between commercial assignments he completed nearly 200 original works—symphonies, operas, chamber music, choral and vocal music, and more than two dozen pieces for wind band.

Last updated on March 25, 2016 by Palatine Concert Band