Dona Nobis Pacem

A Symphony for Concert Band

By: Ralph Vaughan Williams
For: Concert band / wind band
page one of Dona Nobis Pacem

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Dona Nobis Pacem



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Ralph Vaughan Williams
Year of composition
Year of arrangement
Difficult (Grades 7+)
15 minutes
Modern classical music
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Vaughn Williams wrote Dona Nobis Pacem (Latin for “Grant Us Peace”) in 1936 as a cantata for soloists, chorus and a large orchestra. Alarmed by the rise of fascism and the likelihood of another European war, Vaughn Williams made illusions to the experience of recent wars–-drawing on the experiences of soldiers and statesmen in the lead-up and conduct of what we know as World War I–-using those recollections to warn against the horrors of a new war, which unfortunately would erupt in just under three years. The original choral lyrics draw from the Agnus Dei and Gloria sections of the Christian Mass, poems by Walt Whitman, a speech against the Crimean War by British pacifist John Bright and various Biblical quotations concerning war and peace.

The oboe introduces the main theme which is used throughout the composition, notably as a musical bridge between the movements. Each movement musically portrays a different aspect of war from the first movement which depicts the tenuous time before the war to the final movement that heralds the cessation of hostilities and glories in the reconciliation of the parties.

This arrangement is in five, contiguous movements, bridged by oboe solos:

I. A Fragile Peace (Lento)

II. Beat, Beat Drum (Allegro Moderato)

III. Dirge for the Deceased (Moderato alla Marcia)

IV. Carnage and Casualties (Andante moderato)

V. Peace and Reconciliation (Andante)

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Copyright Information:

R. Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem. Copyright © Oxford University Press 1936. Renewed in U.S.A. 1964. Arranged for concert band by Robert L. Anello. This arrangement © 2007 Oxford University Press. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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