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Variations on America for Brass Quintet
Variations on America for Brass Quintet by Charles Ives Arranged by Jari Villanueva 2 Trumpets, Horn in F, Trombone, Tuba
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Composed in 1891 when Ives was seventeen, it is an arrangement of the hymn, “America My Country, 'Tis of Thee)” The tune is also widely recognized as the British National Anthem, “God Save the Queen.” Ives prepared it for a Fourth of July celebration in 1892 at the Methodist church where he was organist in Brewster, New York. He performed it for the first time on February 17, 1892, and made revisions to the work until 1894. Although the piece is considered challenging even by modern concert organists, he spoke of it as being “almost as much fun as playing baseball”.
It went unpublished until 1949, when the organist E. Power Biggs rediscovered it, and prepared an edition for publication. He incorporated it into his repertoire, and it became a regularly performed piece by American organists. In 1962 it was orchestrated by William Schuman, and premiered in this version by the New York Philharmonic under Andre Kostelanetz in 1964. The Schuman orchestration formed the basis of a wind band version by William E. Rhoads, published in 1968.