Havergal Brian Symphony No. 1 \'The Gothic\' (1919-1927)
4 solo vocalists
2 large double choruses
17 percussion players
enlarged string section
This does not even include the 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, two tubas, and timpani that are specified for each of FOUR additional brass bands. That\'s a total of 52 brass parts, and 6 timpanists! Overall there are over 200 players needed for this nearly 2-hour long work. 250 if you really want to do it right.
It was fashionable in and before that era to offer enourmous ensembles.
But then many film composers have written for huge orchestras as well, perhaps the most frequent was Bernard Herrmann who regularily used orchestras of 135-165 pieces (and before choir!). I understand Jerry Goldsmith used over 150 pieces for his landmark \"Star Trek Motion Picture\" score with the addition of Pipe Organ and many synths. This would put it near 200 pieces with the synth parts and overdubs.
Let\'s hear it for massive orchestras!
I love huge orchestrations but I have to build my new PC first to get the horsepower I\'ll need to pull it off.
Wow, I haven\'t thought about the Gothic Symphony for a long time. It is an awesome piece though! Parts of it are very Bach-like and straightforward in the contrapuntal writing, and then there are parts which actually anticipate Penderecki! Toward the end, all 52+ brass instruments play an enormous tone-cluster triple forte, which then resolves to an open fifth. It is terrifying!
Speaking of Penderecki, have you ever seen the score to Utrenja? I checked it out many years ago from my college library, and was knocked on the floor when I saw sections that had something like 60 staves full of extremely complex stuff. That piece never fails to shake me senseless, and leave me exhausted.