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Topic: Dudley Buck-Festival Overture (Finale 2008/GPO)

  1. #1

    Dudley Buck-Festival Overture (Finale 2008/GPO)

    Festival Overture on the American National Air "The Star Spangled Banner" by Dudley Buck (1839-1909)

    I've just published a new edition of this neglected work by a 19th century American master. I thought it would be a good idea to make a GPO realization from the score, so I did, and here it is. (This is an automatic realization generated directly from Finale 2008, unedited by me, so don't expect too much. If I ever have time, I'd like to do a better version.)

    If you'd like more information about the work, here are some notes I wrote for the inside cover.

    DUDLEY BUCK (1839-1909) was one of the leading names in 19th-century American concert music. Remembered today for a handful of choral songs and organ works, he was known during his life for his large-scale secular cantatas, and also composed two operas, orchestral works, and solo songs.

    Buck was born in Hartford, Connecticut, to a family that traced its roots back to the original settlers of Wethersfield in 1647. His father, a successful businessman and the owner of a steamship line, hoped that his son would eventually enter the family business; however, Dudley’s musical aptitude eventually impressed his father so much that he agreed to send him to Europe to complete his training. He enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied harmony and composition with Moritz Hauptmann and Ernst Richter, piano with Louis Plaidy and Ignaz Moscheles, and organ with Johann Schneider. The organ would become Buck’s primary instrument, and upon his return to Hartford, he began his career as the organist at the North Congregational Church.

    Buck moved to Chicago in 1869, only to lose his home, his library, and all his manuscripts in the great fire of 1871. He began anew in Boston, as organist at St. Paul’s Church. During this time, he wrote his first successful large-scale compositions, The Legend of Don Munio and The 46th Psalm. In 1875 he settled in Brooklyn where he continued his career as the organist and choirmaster of Holy Trinity Church, and also accepted a post as Theodore Thomas’s assistant conductor. He would remain in Brooklyn until he retired in 1903.

    The Festival Overture on the American National Air “The Star-Spangled Banner” was composed, or at least premiered, in 1879. It is in most respects a conventional concert overture in sonata-allegro form, incorporating The Star-Spangled Banner (not formally adopted as the national anthem until 1931) as the second theme. It is a testament to Buck’s compositional skill that the resulting work never sounds contrived or gimmicky, but stands on its own as a serious, well-crafted work, expertly developed and brilliantly orchestrated.

    After a few performances in the 1870s and 80s, the overture was forgotten for several decades. The manuscript was sent to G. Schirmer in the hope that it would be published, but that hope came to nothing. Schirmer donated the score to the Library of Congress in 1951, where it remained unnoticed until 1968, when Karl Krueger rediscovered it and arranged for it to be recorded. A reproduction of Buck’s holograph manuscript was published unchanged in Volume 9 of Three Centuries of American Music, edited by Sam Dennison (G. K. Hall & Co., 1992). The present edition is based on that manuscript.

    Dan Powers

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  2. #2

    Re: Dudley Buck-Festival Overture (Finale 2008/GPO)

    I did not realize that finale could generate something that sounds this good without any editing. I am impressed.

  3. #3

    Re: Dudley Buck-Festival Overture (Finale 2008/GPO)

    Hello, Dan---Fantastic! Thanks so much for letting us hear this. Buck's orchestration is so wonderful in this Overture, and your meticulous GPO realization of it sound just great.

    Wow---I even got inspired to stand and salute--and I'm not usually the saluting type.

    Thank you!

    Randy B.

  4. #4

    Re: Dudley Buck-Festival Overture (Finale 2008/GPO)

    Hey Dan, thanks for working on this! Wow!, it's not just the patriotic chill and humble gratitude this work churns but the awesome and masterful frame Buck puts around this true masterpiece. Thanks so much for posting this one.

    "...Wiktor's a Jekyll-Hyde personality..." - Lycos Music

  5. #5

    Re: Dudley Buck-Festival Overture (Finale 2008/GPO)

    Thanks, everyone.

    I came across this piece entirely by chance at our university library, and was amazed that a piece this good had never been properly published. I've been publishing my own music for years, and I thought it would be a good idea to branch out a little.

    I started the score in Finale 2005 and finished it in Finale 2007. I wanted it to be as accurate as possible, so I proofread it over and over, I lost count of how many times altogether. After all that, getting the GPO rendition together was relatively easy!

    I've learned that there's a lot of good music written by Americans in the 19th century, much of which isn't available at all, or only in badly prepared editions. I may have found a whole new career here!
    Dan Powers

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  6. #6

    Re: Dudley Buck-Festival Overture (Finale 2008/GPO)

    It is great!

    "Music is the shorthand of emotion." Leo Tolstoy

    Listen to me, tuning my triangle http://www.box.net/shared/ae822u6r3i

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Wilton, NH

    Re: Dudley Buck-Festival Overture (Finale 2008/GPO)

    I’ve never heard of Dudley Buck. This sounds great. Thanks for posting it. Hopefully now that it is published it will get a little play.
    Trent P. McDonald

  8. #8

    Re: Dudley Buck-Festival Overture (Finale 2008/GPO)

    Ol' Dud (as we affectionately call him, hereabouts) was born
    just up the road a piece from me; and I think I played some
    of his organ compositions at one time or another. However,
    I believe this is the first time I've heard any of his orchestral

    Thanks for bringing this gem along to us, Dan! Very fine job
    on it!

    My best,


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