- The Antiquary
Dedicated to my friend and colleague, Paul E. Bierley,
banding’s great biographer
The honor of playing euphonium for a number of years in Dr. Leonard B. Smith’s great concert band with Paul Bierley playing tuba, gave me the greater honor of becoming Paul’s friend. Paul is easy to get to know and easier to love. With some people, the price of friendship is rather dear, having to overlook many things. With Paul it is free. I hope I captured at least a fragment of his good humor and dauntless spirit in this march I wrote as a tribute to him.
Near CHRISTmas, 2005, I was doing my chores in the barn and suddenly found myself whistling a good-natured tune which I didn’t know. I soon realized that I was doing as musicians do, and making it up as I went. However, it stuck with me, and I soon realized it had several possible permutations. More to the point it was easy-going and “catchy”. My thoughts naturally turned to Paul, whose personality might be called “easy going and catchy”. Before I finished my work, the whole march was flashing before me, structure, counterpoint and all!
I set to work to make it a CHRISTmas present, but got bogged down with the traffic of life. On January 18, 2006, I set about in earnest and finished the basic work. It is a happy, carefree sort of continental-circus-polka-march. The building blocks are found in the two introductory bars. The first strain is a good-natured joust between the cornets and trombones. However, soon the rest of the band pipes in and the euphoniums do what euphoniums do best . . . go into a soaring, long-line counterpoint. Without any fuss, the key changes to the sub-dominant and the Saxhorns take charge, intoning the tune I whistled in the barn . . . once again with the euphoniums showing off. Soon a duet of cornets tosses its two cents’ worth in for a few bars of cornet candy. The key shifts back to tonic and we’re back to the beginning. A sudden shift into the sub-mediant major arrests attention with a two-note descending fourth which provides Paul’s compatriots in the bass section a chance to show off (while the soprano gets his licks in on a sustained trill). With a heavy descending scale of sixteenth notes, the basses bring us home to the tonic and our whistling tune shifts a beat from mellifluous to militant and steps us off into the final section which contrapuntally combines elements from earlier sections with the melody in joyous pizzazz. The cymbalist even gets a solo at the end! (I hope the bandmaster gives ‘em a bow!)
God bless you!
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