Sinfonietta, opus 25 by Neal Corwell
a euphonium concerto in four short movements

Instrumentation: (available in several versions)
(1) euphonium solo with orchestra
(2) solo with piano
(3) Two movements,
Adagio & Finale, for solo with marimba and piano
(4) Scherzo movement only for solo with band
(5) Scherzo movement only for euphonium quartet or 4-part choir
Copyright: 1995
Duration: 16:00 for all four movements
(8:40 for Adagio & Finale, 4:00 for Scherzo alone)
Range: BB-flat to d-2
Difficulty: V
: Nicolai Music
(1) $55 for orchestra version (score & parts)
(2) $15 for piano accompaniment version
(3) $20 for solo with marimba & piano
(4) $45 for the band accompanied version of
(5) $20 for euphonium 4-part version of
Other Info: Original version with orchestra premiered in the Summer of 1995 with Neal Corwell as soloist, accompanied by the Deep Creek Symphony, Erick Friedman conducting, as part of the Garrett Lakes Arts Festival in McHenry, Maryland.


This concerto consists of four relatively short movements (each about 4 minutes in length) titled
Ostinato, Scherzo, Adagio and Finale. The overall structure resembles that of a symphony, hence the title Sinfonietta, which means “little symphony”. The work was designed for a modestly-sized orchestra consisting of the usual compliment of strings, plus a woodwind quartet and one percussionist, performing on timpani and xylophone.

This work is an excellent competition piece because it offers a diverse set of challenges for the soloist, and gives the euphonium a chance to shine. The piano reduction version has been used as the required piece for several competitions to include the final round of the euphonium soloist competition, artist division, during the 1998 International Tuba Euphonium Conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Additionally, in a separate competition, involving soloists on several instruments, to include piano and violin, the work proved its metal by serving as the winning vehicle for Bryce Edwards, euphonium soloist, when he won the Joan Derryberry Concerto Competition at Tennessee Tech University in 2000. Bryce played the full orchestral version of
Sinfonietta for his winning performance.

If a soloist has a time slot that will not accommodate the entire work, one suggested alternative is to perform just the Adagio and Finale (ca. 9 minutes total). The composer gives this pairing his blessing because they compliment each other well, and in 2014 he created a special piece using the just these two movements which showcases the marimba and piano along with the euphonium solo. Another alternative would be to perform just the Scherzo (the only movement currently available with band accompaniment*) because it stands on its own as a fun and light concert showpiece.

*Please note that the composer has plans to eventually complete the band scoring for the entire work.

Program notes for the entire piece are as follows:

After the orchestra sets the appropriate mood during the opening bars of the
Sinfonietta, the soloist enters with a hushed statement of a simple 13-note "Ostinato" which subsequently serves as the basis for the first movement. The low strings and bassoon then re-state the ostinato while the soloist presents a contrasting melodic idea. This theme is combined with the ostinato in various ways throughout the movement as momentum is slowly gathered for the brief concluding cadenza and coda.

The second movement, as the name
scherzo implies, is a "little joke". In addition to the lighthearted main theme, it contains a few veiled references to popular themes by other composers. There is even a brief parody of the somber theme from the upcoming third movement of the Sinfonietta. The cadenza which precedes the coda is a duet featuring the unexpected combination of euphonium and string bass.

In the third movement, only the strings are used to accompany the lyrical melodic lines of the euphonium. Tremolos on a slowly ascending chromatic pattern dominate the dark and somewhat austere opening section of the
adagio, but a dramatic change of mood is felt during the middle portion of the movement. The brighter tempo and spirit of the central contrasting section may distract the listener from the fact that the solo line is actually based on the same melodic ideas found in the darker opening section. The movement is brought to a close with a return to both the tempo and mood with which it began.

Finale represents a synthesis of ideas from the previous three movements. One of its dominant characteristics is the ostinato pattern with which it begins. As this ostinato gains in strength, melodic ideas derived from both the first and third movements are presented and developed, and the many double-tongued passages allude to the similar patterns of rapid repeated notes found in the scherzo. The fast tempo and persistent driving rhythms of this movement provide an energetic and exciting conclusion to the work.