William Boyce : Boyce Symphony No.1 (Arranged for Brass quintet)

Product Code : Boyce_001
William Boyce’s (1711-1779) eight symphonies are not only the most well known and most recorded of all his works, but are also probably amongst the most famous, most played and most loved of any English Baroque musical work.
They were first published by John Walsh (Handel’s publisher) in 1760 but each one was in fact composed over the previous 21 years as either an ode to a vocal or stage work or as an overture.
At the time of publication Boyce was 49 and had begun to gradually withdraw from public musical life – probably because of his increasing deafness. These pieces were no doubt chosen for publication as a single set to represent his finest and most famous orchestral works.
Newspapers at this time show a strong growth in musical societies and public orchestral concerts and Boyce’s symphonies were presumably published to meet the correspondingly high demand for this type of work.
The title page (from the first publication in London in January 1760) reads: “EIGHT SYMPHONYS in eight parts” Six for Violins, Hoboys, or German Flutes, and Two for Violins, French Horns and Trumpets, with a Bass for the VIOLONCELLO AND HARPSICHORD, COMPOS’D BY Dr. Wm. Boyce, OPERA SECONDA. London. Printed for J. Walsh in Catherine Street in the Strand.
This description is not entirely accurate as bassoons and double basses (playing from the same part as the ‘cellos) are also needed as well as timpani in the fifth symphony.
The terms Overture and Symphony were synonymous at this time and were generally described as being either in the French or Italian style. The French style ‘overture’ began with a slow movement containing dotted rhythms leading to a fugue. Dance movements followed this. The Italian style ‘sinfonia’ or symphony was in three movements, slow-fast-slow. Boyce arranged his symphonies such that numbers 1-5 are in the Italian Style and 6-8 are in the French style. For the whole of his life Boyce continued to compose music in both styles in spite of the fact that the French style ‘overture’ was quickly going out of fashion.
When musical tastes changed in the latter half of the eighteenth century and audiences looked towards the new ‘classical’ style of Abel, J.C. Bach, Mozart and Haydn, the symphonies of Boyce were gradually dropped from the orchestral repertoire. The composer Constant Lambert (1905-1951) put them back on the musical map when he rediscovered them in the 1920s – leading to the first modern edition in 1928. Lambert made use of Boyce’s music in his own ballet ‘The Prospect Before Us’ which was produced by the Sadler’s Wells ballet company in 1940.
The symphonies are recognised today as being absolute gems of the period; bright, full of good tunes, well crafted and delightfully unassuming.
Specifically for Symphony No.1, although Boyce was not officially made Master of the King’s Music until 1757 he took over the duties of the position immediately following the death of Maurice Greene in 1755.
The first ‘royal’ work he composed was his Ode for His Majesty’s Birthday on 10th November 1755. This symphony was composed shortly afterwards and was first performed as the overture to the Ode for the New Year of 1756 ‘Hail, hail, auspicious day’ with words written by the poet laureate Colley Cibber (1671-1757).

These notes were prepared by Roger Slade as published on Roger’s Website about Eighteenth Century English Music http://rslade.co.uk/18th-century-music/composers/william-boyce/william-boyce-the-eight-symphonies/
No. of Players : 5 Difficulty : Intermediate Arranged by : Phil Carrington
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In most cases, this is the arrangment being played back using the Sibelius video export facility, but in some cases this is an actual performance by groups commissioned by Undiscovered Brass to actually perform the arrangment.
Boyce Symphony No.1 (Arranged for Brass quintet)
Price : £20