John Harbison: Amazing Grace


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Additional Info

  • Composer
    John Harbison
  • Publisher
    Associated Music Publishers Inc
  • Arrangement
    Oboe (OB)
  • Format
  • Genre
    20th Century


For solo oboe. It was in 1971 that my friend Phil West asked me to write him a solo oboe piece. On an earlier occasion he had sung me his southern rural version of "Amazing Grace," with whumping grace note ornamentations that I guessed were part of the camp-meeting tradition that had gathered around the song. I hadn't heard the song so much at the time but I somehow had learned it was a Scottish seafaring ballad; this I associated with bag-piping. (The tune had not yet become the all-occasion standard it is today.) My variations are both de-constructive and constructive. The tune can be followed, but with the help of a daring and brilliant performer. — John Harbison

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