Zoot Suite for Orchestra (Berners, John Edgar)

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Sheet Music


 I. Rag Nocturne
#258389 - 0.23MB, 19 pp. -  10.0/10 2 4 6 8 10 (1- !N/!N/!N - 202x

PDF typeset by Unknown
Jberners (2012/11/12)

Publisher Info.:

John Edgar Berners


Performance Restricted Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 1.0 [tag/del]

However, the lawful copyright owner has generously released the file for distribution at IMSLP under one of the Creative Commons licenses or the IMSLP Performance Restricted License, which allow for the free distribution (with proper attribution) of the file with various levels of restriction with respect to the creation of derivative works, commercial usage, or public performances.


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General Information

Work Title Zoot Suite for Orchestra
Alternative Title
Composer Berners, John Edgar
Movements/Sections 3 sections
I. Rag Nocturne
II. Humming Harmlessly in Harlem
III. Headlong Boogie
Year/Date of Composition 2002
First Publication 2002
Average Duration 10 minutes
Piece Style Modern
Instrumentation Full Orchestra

Misc. Comments

This is the composer's orchestration of a piano piece by the same title, based on American piano idioms--rag, popular song, and boogie woogie.

Program note

Zoot Suite began life as a piano piece based on American piano idioms and later grew into a full orchestral suite. Although the piano is not used in the orchestra, a different piano style is the basis of each movement.

  • The first movement, ‘Rag Nocturne,’ is a slow dance with just a bit of rag syncopation. Maybe because I was studying the piano music of Satie when I composed it, it came out sounding a little French.
  • ‘Humming Harmlessly in Harlem’ is a passacaglia in a dreamy style with a hint of lounge piano and dance-band brass playing.
  • ‘Headlong Boogie’ is a tribute to the great boogie-woogie piano players of the thirties. The left hand is the heart of boogie-woogie and this movement uses a number of the bass patterns my father, a boogie-woogie aficionado, taught me when I was little. Near the end, in the second-to last bar, is a brief quote from the great Chicago boogie player Jimmy Yancey, who ended all his recordings with the same tag, always in E-flat Major, no matter what key the piece had been in! Jimmy’s tag is heard here in the strings (in E-flat, of course) before the full orchestra plays the “real” ending a measure later.
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