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  • Writer's pictureBret Newton

The Haunted Palace

Set of Parts - $300

In the summer of 2017, I was hard at work on my book Band Orchestration – Volume 2: Woodwinds. This task was Consuming most of my creative energy, but I found the small spark I needed to begin a new work for large wind ensemble. Part of the drive to start the new piece was the desire for a few more excerpts for the book. I had reached an impasse in selecting excerpts for a few of the rarer instruments and instrument combinations. While, I set out to meet this goal, the drive to compose the piece was purely musical.

I knew that I wanted to write a more “sinister” work, and so I turned to the works of Poe, whose writings are rife with musical possibilities. I also turned to Poe for my piece The City in the Sea completed in 2017 for saxophone ensemble, which can be seen as a companion work to The Haunted Palace.

The piece starts with a triumphant fanfare in the kingdom – all is well and good. Slithery, chromatic undercurrents appear early on, but are brushed off as a mere trifle. Melodies, both noble and playful, sound early on giving the impression of beauty and strength. A long Flute cadenza highlights the beauty of the palace’s realm. Eventually, the sinister chromatic underpinning begins to be more prominent, and we move into a much darker realm. The palace becomes abandoned and filled with evil spirits. At one point, there is a ghastly march of those spirits as they march through the palace and the surrounding valley only to fade off into the mist. Everything eventually disappears into nothing as the cold wind blows and all life leaves the valley of the palace.


Piccolo (=Tenor Flute 1)

C Flute 1 (=Tenor Flute 2)

C Flute 2 (=Baritone Flute)

Alto Flute (=Bass Flute)

2 Oboes

Mezzo-Soprano Oboe

Alto Oboe

E-flat Clarinet

4 B-flat Clarinets

E-flat Tenor Clarinet

B-flat Bass Clarinet

B-flat Contrabass Clarinet

2 E-flat Alto Saxophones

B-flat Tenor Saxophone

E-flat Baritone Saxophone

B-flat Bass Saxophone

E-flat Contrabass Saxophone

3 Bassoons


4 F Horns

3 B-flat Cornets

2 Tenor Trombones

Bass Trombone

2 B-flat Flügelhorns

F Alto Flügelhorn

2 Tenor Tubas

Bass Tuba

Contrabass Tuba


Percussion 1

(Chimes, Crotales, Xylophone, Marimba, Vibraphone)

Percussion 2

(Glockenspiel, Snare Drum)

Percussion 3

(Triangle, Tambourine, Suspended Cymbal, Bass Drum, Tam-Tam, Wind Machine)

Percussion 4

(Cymbals, Bass Drum, Tam-Tam, Large Chains)

Notes on instrumentation:

Care should be taken to ensure that all the specified instruments in this work are provided for. An incomplete instrumentation is an incomplete performance. While Cornets are specified and preferred, Trumpets may be substituted in an emergency. The wind machine may be placed off stage for maximum effect.

The Tenor Flutes (traditionally known as Bass Flutes) are indispensable. The Baritone and Bass Flutes (commonly called “Contra-Alto” and “Contrabass Flutes”) may be dispensed with and their parts cued in the Tenor and Bass Clarinets. The Contrabass Saxophone part may also be played on an E-flat Contrabass Sarrusophone. Alternatively, a part for a second B-flat Contrabass Clarinet may be provided. The F Alto Flügelhorn is preferably played on a true Alto Flügelhorn, but a traditional marching F Mellophone is an acceptable substitute.

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