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FORTRESS for concert band

Fortress by Frank Ticheli. Hear streaming audio on this page. Suitable for high school and college bands and community bands, 5-1/2 minutes duration, Grade 3.


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Blue Shades:
The Music of Frank Ticheli (CD)

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and other works by Frank Ticheli

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Harmonic considerations:

The tritone is the most important harmonic interval [in this work]. Alteration between major triads a tritone apart occurs throughout the piece. For example

Thematic material:

There are three important ideas that occur throughout the piece, each receiving emphasis at different times:

Formal and rehearsal considerations:

Fortress is intended to be moderately challenging to most high school bands and very challenging to gifted junior high school bands. (It is also suitable for college bands.) The piece can be divided roughly into five smaller sections, as follows:

Section I (Beginning - measure 53): The piece begins in the percussion very quietly. All three players should be in equal balance. It is crucial that the timpani be tuned precisely as indicated. The main idea of the piece, first appearing at measure 12, dominates this section. Careful attention to balance and intonation should be given to the low brass stating the idea.

Section II (measures 54 - 70): The "call motif" is developed canonically at the tritone, first as a two-part canon in tutti, then as a four-part canon by soloists. The soloists should be of equal balance.

Section III (measures 71 - 107): The "legato theme" is developed through several keys, and the entire section builds gradually from piano to fortissimo. The "main idea" is recalled at measures 83 - 87 (trombones/euphonium) and at measures 96 - 99 (trumpets/horns), but it is always subordinate to the "legato theme." At measures 100 - 106, the "legato theme" is passed from group to group, but it is always marked "bring out."

Section IV (measures 108 - 123): The "legato theme" is now in diminution over marcato chords in the low brass and low woodwinds. This evolves into a brief recollection of the main idea in tutti. The entire section must be very precise, but without losing intensity. A brief restatement of the legato theme at measures 122 - 123 prepares ...

Section V (CODA): Material from throughout the piece is recalled over a tonic pedal. The section begins very quietly and mysteriously, then gradually builds to the end. The conductor should not slow down too much at the poco rit. (measures 155 - 157). The first trumpets have the greatest responsibility in re-establishing the "a tempo" at measure 158.


Fortress was composed in 1988 and received its premiere performance by the Batawagama Youth Camp Band in Iron County, Michigan, Donald Schleicher, conductor, on June 25, 1988.

Special thanks to Donald S. George and The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Symphony Band, who provided the promotional recording of the piece.

Frank Ticheli

Copyright © 1999 Manhattan Beach Music. All Rights Reserved.

Performance by Donald S. George conducting the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Symphony Band.

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