Concert Band


Concert Piece, Suite
Grade Level:
Performance time:
Hal Leonard
US 9x12 (229x305mm)
Full Score + Condensed Score + Parts
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Release Date:


Othello is a concert suite in 5 movements (after Shakespeare).
Each movement characterizes the mood in the scene of the play musically.

1. Prelude (Venice)
2. Aubade (Cyprus)
3. Othello and Desdemona
4. Entrance of the Court
5. The Death of Desdemona - Epilogue

Othello was composed as incidental music to a 1974 production of the Shakespeare play at the University Of Miami Ring Theater. Reed conceived fourteen separate sequences, ranging from relatively extended forms (Prelude, Entr'acte, Epilogue and Curtain Down) to short fanfares for brass and percussion. The music reflects the tension and uncertainty of the war that permeates the story. In 1977 the composer completely reworked the music, producing a greatly expanded concert version for symphonic winds. The present setting for brass ensemble is drawn from both the original sequences and the concert version. About the individual movements, the composer writes:

In the first movement, Prelude (Venice), at once establishes the tense military atmosphere that pervades much of the play and reveals itself in Othello's statement to the Duke of Venice in Act I: "The tyrant custom hath made the flinty and steel couch war my thrice-driven bed".
The second movement, Aubade (Cyprus), is a morning song played by itinerant musicians under Othello and Desdemona's window (Act III), titled, appropriately, "Good Morning, General".
The third movement, Othello and Desdemona, portrays the deep feeling between them, passionate yet tender, and is prefaced by a quotation from Othello's famous speech to the Venetian Senate in Act I, telling of his wooing her: "She loves me for the dangers I had passed, and I loved her that she did pity them".
The fourth movement, Entrance of the Court, is an amalgam of Shakespeare's Act IV and Boito's handling of essentially the same action in his libretto for Verdi's opera. Following the terrible scene in which Othello, driven half-mad with rage and jealousy, first upbraids, then strikes Desdemona, in full view of the court gathered to hail him as hero, lago mocks, "Behold the Lion of Venice!"
The fifth and final movement, The Death of Desdemona, Epilogue, is a summation of the music and final resolution of the tensions herefore generated, just as Act V, sums up the play and resolves all the wrenching-apart of human nature that has preceded it. The music here carries as its quotation Othello's famous last lines, spoken to the dead body of Desdemona, "I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this...

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