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Guy Woolfenden: A composer's musical DNA

James A Dreiling, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Guy Woolfenden is a British composer who has made a name for himself in England as the composer of over 150 scores for the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as music for numerous ballet and opera companies. In addition, he has composed fifteen pieces for wind band and eleven pieces for various wind chamber ensembles. While his wind music is well known throughout England, his name and his music are not as well known throughout the rest of the world. Those few conductors outside of England who are aware of his work tend to know only one or two of his early band scores, with little or no knowledge of his larger output. This document will take a closer look at Woolfenden's musical DNA: those defining qualities and characteristics unique to his wind music. The exploration encompasses influential experiences throughout his life that had a lasting effect on his compositional approach. This includes his vast experience composing incidental music for Shakespearian plays that infuses much of Woolfenden's band and chamber compositions, his experiences as a chorister with the Westminster Abbey Choir as a young boy, the numerous conducting opportunities he has enjoyed with every significant band and orchestra throughout England, and the way his incidental music, exclusively written for various chamber ensembles, has affected his orchestrational style for wind band. This document will also explore his wind music from an analytical perspective to better understand his approach to melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, and orchestrational style for a complete picture of Woolfenden's musical make-up. The reader will gain an understanding and appreciation of why Woolfenden's wind music is worth an elevated place amongst the vast repertoire for wind band and chamber wind ensembles.

Subject Area

Music|Music education

Recommended Citation

Dreiling, James A, "Guy Woolfenden: A composer's musical DNA" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI3689624.