The Band Music of Amilcare Ponchielli
The Glory of a Bandmaster
Il Gottardo was composed for a concert held in the La Scala theater May 24, 1882. The occasion was the celebration of the Gotthard Rail Tunnel that had just been completed in 1881. It is characterized as "Inno Trionfale" or "Triumphal Anthem" for orchestra and band. This version for band is based on one published by Ricordi in 1882. The original version was for an orchestra augmented by a brass band. Ricordi's version for piano four hands lists the piece as being available for band or orchestra. Raffaele Coppola also made a band version, though he likely based his on a piano version. One assumes (hopes) that Raffaele Ascolese had access to the autograph score that still resides in the Ricordi archives in Milan. After observing both, the editor has decided to update the published band score. Whether Ponchielli had any part in its production cannot be ascertained, though Ponchielli wrote "Fine (!) (?) ma! ["but!]" and signed his name to the otiginal score for orchestra and band.
The modern band version includes a timpani part drawn from the original. One may choose to use it or not. The additional trumpet part is due to the need to accomodate the additional brass from the orchestral version.
While the nineteenth-century Swiss anthem is used (to the tune of God, Save the King), there seems to be no specific Italian nationalism expressed here. All in all, it is a glorious celebration of a signal engineering achievement.
When the Gotthard Base Tunnel comes on line in 2015, there may be an even more pressing need for this glorious bombast.
Performances: None ascertained