Seasons, a symphony for brass quintet
John Stevens (b. 1951)
John Stevens is an American composer and tubist. He graduated from the Eastman School of Music and Yale University and joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin/Madison in 1985, after previous employment as professor of tuba and euphonium at the University of Miami School of Music. He retired from teaching in 2014. In addition to performing on tuba, Stevens has been a prolific composer. He has written works for tuba, brass quintet, and various chamber ensembles.
Fabrics by Wisconsin Brass Quintet: Summit Records, 1993.
Thunder! by Sonus Brass: Mark Records, 2014.
Types of Instruments/Mutes
Flugels are needed for the third movement. Trumpets require harmon and straight mute.
Seasons is subtitled “A Symphony for Brass Quintet” because the nature of the movements - long opening movement, scherzo, slow movement and finale - parallels that of the classic symphony and it sure it does feel that way when preparing this work. Catchy tunes, beautiful lyrical expressive playing opportunities, different playing styles, virtuosic fast passages, cadenzas sections, this piece has it all and it is a fantastic addition to the brass quintet repertoire. Pieces like this one are of great importance to promote brass quintet as serious and distinctive mediums of musical expression and cultural heritage.
Seasons was composed during the summer of 1986 and written specifically for the Wisconsin Brass Quintet. In the composer’s own words: “The title and the musical flavor of the movements were inspired by the changes of seasons in the northern climes of the United States. The music is programmatic in that the most important compositional aspect of the work is the creation of the seasonal mood in each movement. Spring is a time of new beginnings; of growth and warmth returning. Each instrument has a chance to “blossom” in this opening movement. Summer is a joyous dance of great speed and agility - the music is, except for a short section in the middle reminding us of the stifling summer heat, a celebration of the activity and “outdoor” nature of the season. Autumn is the most beautiful of the seasons, with its cool days and gorgeous colors. There is also a melancholy atmosphere to the music, forewarning the coming of winter. Winter can be many things, but in this work portrays the violent, cold, cracking, stark nature of the Wisconsin winters. This finale movement returns at the end to the music of Spring, completing the year’s cycle to conclude the piece."