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Children's March, "Over the Hills and Far Away"

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

Children's March: "Over the Hills and Far Away", often referred to simply as The Children's March, is a musical composition by Australian composer Percy Grainger. Though originally scored for two pianos, it is typically performed by a concert band, or as Grainger writes, "Military Band (Piano ad libitum)".


Grainger composed the ''Children's March'' from the autumn of 1916 through February, 1918, writing for two pianos, four hands. Grainger ambiguously dedicated this work to "my playmate beyond the hills."


In addition to the two pianos version, Grainger arranged the Children's March for other ensembles, including:

  • Military Band and piano
    • Piano, C flutes (1st and 2nd), C piccolo, oboes (1st and 2nd), bass oboe (or English horn), solo B-flat clarinet, 1st B-flat clarinet, 2nd B-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoons (1st and 2nd), contra-bassoon, E-flat horns (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th), solo B-flat cornet, B-flat cornet (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), trombones (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), tubas (1st and 2nd), string bass (as many parts as available), snare drum, tambourine, bass drum, cymbals, bells, kettledrums, xylophone, "etc." percussion, and vocal quartet (tenor I, tenor II, bass I, and bass II, or a small male chorus)
    • Grainger suggests that the following parts can be added at will to the military band version:
      • E-flat clarinet, E-flat alto clarinet, B-flat soprano saxophone, E-flat alto saxophone, B-flat tenor saxophone, euphonium
    • Grainger states that the piano part can be left out at will, but all piano cues in the band parts should be played. Additionally, he writes that the vocal quartet can be sung by members of the band not playing at that particular point, and the parts are cued in their scores.
  • Piano solo (short excerpt)
  • Symphony orchestra and piano
    • If no euphonium, alto clarinet, or saxophones are available, then all players should play cues marked for those instruments

Grainger also suggests alternate instrumentations for "two pianos, together with any or all of the wind, percussion, and string bass parts of the [military band version]", including:

  • 2 pianos, 1 flute, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, 1 bassoon, 1 trumpet, 2 horns, 1 baritone, 1 string bass, bells.
  • 2 pianos, 1 flute, 1 oboe, 1 clarinet, 1 horn, 1 bassoon, (1 English horn ad lib.)
  • 2 pianos, 1 piccolo, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, 1 alto clarinet, 1 bass clarinet, 1 bassoon, 1 soprano saxophone, 1 alto saxophone, 1 contra-bassoon, 1 trumpet, 1 horn, snare drum, cymbals, bells, xylophone
  • 2 pianos, 1 piccolo, 1 flute, 1 oboe, 1 bass oboe (or English horn), 2 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, 1 bassoon, 1 contra-bassoon, 1 soprano saxophone, 1 alto saxophone, 2 trumpets, 2 horns, 2 trombones, 1 baritone, 1 tuba, string bass, snare drum, tambourine, bass drum, cymbals, bells, timpani, xylophone

A popular concert band version, edited by R. Mark Rogers, features the following instrumentation:

  • Piano, 1 small flute (piccolo), 2 1st flutes, 2 2nd flutes, 2 3rd flutes (substitute for E-flat clarinet), 1 1st oboe, 1 2nd oboe, 1 English horn (substitute for bass oboe), 1 bass oboe, 1 clarinet in E-flat, 3 1st clarinets, 3 2nd clarinets, 3 3rd clarinets, 3 4th clarinets, 1 alto clarinet, 2 bass clarinets, 1 contralto clarinet (substitute for bass saxophone), 1 contra bass clarinet (substitute for double bassoon), 1 1st bassoon, 1 2nd bassoon, 1 double bassoon, 1 contra bass saxophone (substitute for double bassoon), 1 soprano saxophone, 1 special alto saxophone (substitute for soprano saxophone), 2 alto saxophones, 2 tenor saxophones, 1 baritone saxophone, 1 bass saxophone, 2 1st cornets, 2 2nd cornets, 2 3rd cornets, 2 4th cornets, 1 1st horn in F, 1 2nd horn in F, 1 3rd horn in F, 1 4th horn in F, 2 1st trombones, 2 2nd trombones, 2 3rd trombones, 2 T.C. euphoniums, 3 B.C. euphoniums, 4 tubas, 1 double bass, 2 kettle drums & chimes, 3 1st percussion (box drum, wood block, tambourine, castanets, and bells), 3 2nd percussion (bass drum, crash cymbals, suspended cymbal, gong, hammerwood [xylophone]), and vocal quartet.


The two piano version of the Children's March is formatted in 6/8 time, a typical meter for Grainger's compositions. The work starts with Piano II playing a smooth, catchy theme that only reappears towards the end of the work, and is marked "feelingly", while Piano I plays seemingly clashing staccato chords on beats 1, 2, 4, and 5. The chords on these beats repeat throughout the work with varying intensities. At measure 17, Piano I plays a bouncy bass rhythm, with the "bass well to the fore", that segues in to the main theme of the work. At measure 61, a second, legato theme enters, a variant of the first theme. After, a forte repeat of part of the main theme is played, followed by the same part again, at measure 77, but instead louder and with more powerful accompanying chords on beats 1, 2, 4, and 5. Then at measure 85, both pianos play the main theme, with larger chords than before. It builds in intensity until measure 117, where it suddenly changes dynamics, from triple forte to pianissimo, changes keys, from F major to B-flat major, and changes styles, from one that is the typical upbeat, child-like to one that is more smooth and connected. This continues with various interjections from the Piano I. By measure 132, Piano II starts playing detached eighth notes on every beat with the same D chord, while Piano I plays a similarly detached melody overtop.[1]

The military/concert band version of the Children's March is structured the same, but utilizes specific voicing for the instruments.


  1. "Children's March (Grainger, Percy) - IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library: Free Public Domain Sheet Music". Retrieved 2019-02-11.

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