Composer / Arranger Biographies
Kenneth Amis ( b.1970 )
Kenneth Amis was born and raised in Bermuda. He enrolled in Boston University at age sixteen where he majored in composition and studied tuba with Chester Schmitz (of the Boston Symphony Orchestra) and Sam Pilafian (founding member of the Empire Brass). After graduating from Boston University and becoming a licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music, he attended the New England Conservatory where he earned a Master's Degree in Composition. Mr. Amis has been commissioned by numerous organizations including the Belmont High School Band (MA), the Massachusetts Instrumental Conductors Association, the New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble, the University of Scranton (PA), College Band Directors National Association, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston and the Boston Classical Orchestra. As a tuba player Mr. Amis has soloed with the English Chamber Orchestra and has been a member of the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra and the New World Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Amis has served on the faculties of Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the Pacific Music Festival in Japan and in 2007 was Composer-in-residence at the South Shore Conservatory in Massachusetts. In 2003 Mr. Amis became the youngest recipient of New England Conservatory of Music's "Outstanding Alumni Award." Mr. Amis is presently the tuba player of the Empire Brass and the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra, a performing artist for Besson instruments, the assistant conductor for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Wind Ensemble, tuba professor at Boston University, Boston Conservatory, Longy School of Music, New England Conservatory and is tuba professor and wind ensemble director at the Conservatory at Lynn University.
Johann Sebastian Bach ( 1685 - 1750 )
As a master composer, performer, and teacher, J.S. Bach's contributions to the study and understanding of western music is unequalled. His music crystallizes the principals of form and structure so much so that the harmonic and contrapuntal rules of the common practice period of music are taught through the examination of his many choral and keyboard works. Without sacrificing expressiveness, Bach displays an incredible degree of intellectual prowess in the creation of his works which can be seen clearly in his many collective works, including The Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1 and 2 and The Musical Offering. His last great collection, The Art of Fugue is now available in its entirety for wind ensemble from Amis Musical Circle.
Ludwg van Beethoven ( 1770 - 1827 )
Beethoven’s bust is probably the most recognizable of all artists. That is to say that the sculpture of Beethoven’s head and shoulders is an icon of artistic mastery and scholastic pursuits. This recognition is well deserved. Beethoven’s music became the bridge over which the world traveled between Classicism and 19th century Romanticism. Through orchestral, chamber and solo works he expressed himself with a harmonic, rhythmic, structural and textural quality that had yet to be explored. His is considered by many to be the first Romanticist (in music), one whose success is all the more astounding when one considers his handicap (He became deaf halfway through his life). His most famous credited music is from the opening measures of his Fifth Symphony in C minor. However, a piece that is just as recognizable, despite that fact that many people may not know that Beethoven wrote it, is a short piano entitle, Für Elise. Almost ever novice/intermediate piano student attempts to learn this piece (like the Rondo alla turca or Turkish March from Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A K.331). This has lead to a unfortunate stereotyping and poor performance conventions for what should be a very passionate and beautiful work.
Hector Berlioz ( 1803 - 1869 )
Berlioz was one of the seminal figures shaping the development of modern music in the direction of sonorous grandiosity. His work influenced Wagner, Liszt and the Russian school of composers and propagated the romantic ideal of program music. Berlioz was also a conductor, whose concept of sound and sonority led the way to the construction of today's modern orchestra. In his treatise on instrumentation he suggests 119 players as a normal size for an orchestra (today's large orchestra only have about 105), but his dream orchestra would employ up to 465 (including 30 harps and 30 pianos!!) supplemented by a chorus of 360. In 1866 he conducted his Damnation of Faust using a 150 piece orchestra and 300 member chorus. His two most popular works are the Hungarian March from The Damnation of Faust and the musical self-portrait, Fantastic Symphony.
Antonin Dvorák ( 1841 - 1904 )
Dvorák’s music varied greatly in style throughout his life. The influence of Beethoven and Schubert could be heard in his earlier works , then Wagner and finally the conservative classicism of Brahms. A diligent and meticulous craftsman, he brought to his finest works a seemingly inexhaustible and spontaneous melodic freshness, rhythmic variety, judicious employment of national folk tunes and popular dance rhythms, and an exceptional display of contrapuntal and harmonic skill. His nationalism is displayed clearly in his two sets of Slavonic Dances.
Prince Carlo Gesualdo ( 1566-1613 )
It was in the works of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, that the Italian madrigal reached its chromatic saturation point. He was a controversial character who was not only famous for his music and his preoccupation for young boys but also for the fact that he was suspected of being the murderer of his wife (who was also his cousin) and her lover. He was never officially incriminated for the crime despite his apparent culpability. Gesualdo’s secular music stands out for its chromatic exploration and departure from the modes. The six madrigals available here are from his Libro VI delli Madrigali (Book Six of Madrigals) and represent some of his most troubled and ‘futuristic’sounding works. He was indeed a disturbed individual whose chromaticism showed a uniquely moving response to the text.
Orlando di Lasso ( 1532-1594 )
This Franco-Flemish composer is also commonly known by his Latin name, Orlandus Lassus and his French name Roland de Lassus. He was extremely successful as maestro di cappella of the Munich court chapel a position which he held for the last thirty years of his life. He wrote over 2000 works in various genres including Latin motets, German lieder, French chasons, and Italian madrigals. His skill and versatility was so admired by his contemporaries he was often referred to as the ‘Belgian Orpheus’ and the ‘Prince of Music’. Ola, o che bon eccho! and Tristis est anima mea ( available for brass from Amis Musical Circle ) are extraordinary examples of Lasso’s mastery of both sacred and secular music.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ( 1756-1791 )
Mozart, allegedly, could compose entire works in his mind before ever writing down a note on paper. The process of putting the music down on paper was therefore a simple act of transferring an already completed piece. Perhaps this is the reason for the incredible amount of work he produced in his short lifetime. One of his most popular melodies is from the 3rd movement of his Piano Sonata in A K.331 (a.k.a. Rondo alla turca or Turkish March). It is a favorite for young piano students and just as recognizable as Beethoven’s Für Elise.
Henry Purcell ( 1659-1695 )
The composer of the first great English opera, Dido and Aeneas, is too often only credited with his more popular ceremonial works. Trumpet Tune and Voluntary on Old 100th are usually the only pieces people think of when they hear the name Purcell. However, Dido’s Lament (Thy hand, Belinda!–When I am laid in earth from Dido and Aeneas), with its perfect adaptation of technique to expression, is one of the landmarks of seventeenth-century music. His Funeral Music, written for the death of Queen Mary, also displays a sensitivity and progressiveness not usually attributed to Purcell. The three funeral sentences included in this catalog (Man that is born of a woman, In the midst of life and Thou knowest Lord) undergo a chromatic treatment rivaling that of a Gesualdo madrigal.
Johan Julius (Jean) Sibelius ( 1865-1957 )
There are few composers so closely identified with their native land as Sibelius with Finland. One of his most popular pieces, Finlandia, was born out of patriotism and virtually became a national anthem. It was the success of Valse Triste that did the most to make Sibelius a household name. Composed in 1904, by the 1930s it had run to 67 editions (including innumerable arrangements) with some 200,000 copies sold. It is now available to you from Amis Musical Circle for brass quintet.