Arthur Willard Pryor (September 22, 1869 – June 18, 1942) was a trombone virtuoso, bandleader, and soloist with the Sousa Band. He was a prolific composer of band music, and in later life, he became a Democratic Party politician from New Jersey during the 1930s. He was the son of Samuel Pryor, bandmaster and founder of the original Pryor band. Arthur first took up music at a very young age under the tutelage of his father and was playing the valve trombone by age 11. Pryor went on to direct the Stanley Opera Company in Denver, Colorado until joining the John Philip Sousa Band in 1892. During his 12 years with the Sousa Band, Pryor estimated that he played 10,000 solos. From 1895 to 1903, Pryor was assistant conductor of the Sousa Band. During his association with the "March King", Pryor toured throughout the USA and Europe. Once while in Germany, all the trombonists of the German Army bands were ordered to hear him play. They were so amazed at his playing that they insisted on taking his trombone apart, refusing to believe that it was natural! Pryor ended his association with Sousa after his father’s death and took over the Pryor band. For 30 years thereafter, Pryor's band was an American institution. The Bluebells of Scotland was arranged by Arthur Pryor for trombone with accompaniment. This version is usually called "Blue Bells of Scotland". It is most commonly played with a piano or concert/military band, but has also been performed with orchestra or brass band. Although the exact date is disputed due to some naming questions, Pryor probably composed the piece around 1899. This version is technically challenging and allows the soloist to show off a flowing legato while, in different places, requiring some difficult jumps. The sheer speed and volume of notes also poses a significant challenge. It is in theme and variation form, and opens with a cadenza-like introduction. After the theme, it moves to the allegro section, in which the variations begin. Variation one involves triplets, while variation two involves syncopated sixteenth-eighth note rhythms. The cadenza that follows demonstrates the performer's range; jumping about three and a half octaves from high C (an octave above middle C) to pedal A flat and G, for example. The vivace finale brings all these techniques into one, requiring the trombonist to exhibit advanced range, legato, double tonguing and flexibility. Thus, the piece is limited to the best trombonists, although there have been numerous recordings by such famed players as Joseph Alessi, Christian Lindberg and Ian Bousfield. It is often considered to be the trombone equivalent in terms of required mastery of the instrument, to the Carnival of Venice for trumpet or cornet, by Jean-Baptiste Arban! Our arrangement has been created by the late, highly talented Simon Kerwin , and we hope many trombonists or Euphonium players will enjoy tackling this very challenging show piece!
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.