Brass + Wind

The modern wind band, often referred to with distinction as a Wind Ensemble, is a result of the evolutionary process of the past three hundred and fifty years. The role of a wind instrument player has changed from a minor role in the orchestral setting, to a supportive ceremonial role in military situations, to a key player in an all wind professional performance group. These changes have required instrument makers to improve the quality of their product, and have inspired composers to write for a completely new genre of music.

During the middle part of the 20th century, the modern band went through somewhat of a renaissance. School bands were growing in popularity and popping up all over the country. This band consisted of far fewer players, about 45, maintaining the sound of a large band, but with the virtuosity of a chamber group. All the previous repertory is playable, yet musical independence is more easily achieved, even in younger bands, with an ensemble of this size. The goal of this ensemble is artistic expression, not entertainment like its predecessors. Also, all instruments used in the model for the Symphonic Wind Ensemble were usually readily available in most high school band rooms.

Only in the 1950s did composers really begin to explore the genre of the Wind Ensemble, with many pieces being written for it, most of which remain standards to this day. Schoenberg, Milhaud, Goldman, H. Owen Reed, Hindemith, Vincent Persichetti, and Morton Gould are all composers who came into their own during this time as composers of wind band music, and helped to foster a core of repertoire that would be performed for generations to come.