*SINFONIETTA op.300 (May 1981)

A concert work for 10 brass for the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
Published by: Highbridge Music Ltd
Commissioned by: Jim Parr on behalf of BBC Radio Brighton and the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
Instrumentation: 4 tpt(I=ptpt.III=flhn).hn.3 trbn.btrbn.tuba
[Key to Abbreviations]
Duration: 18 mins
First Performance: Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, St.Peter’s Church, Brighton Festival, 7th May 1981.
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Recordings Available
Violin Concerto "The Leeds", A Month In The Country, Sinfonietta
Released: 1994
Recorded: 1994
Artists: Christine Edinger (violin), Paul Daniel (conductor), English Northern Philharmonia
Available from: ASV Records ASV Records

Violin Concerto "The Leeds"; A Month in the Country; Sinfonietta (digitally remastered 2012)
Released: 2012
Recorded: 2012
Artists: Christiane Edinger (violin), English Northern Philharmonia conducted by Paul Daniel
Available from: Amazon UK Amazon US ASV Highbridge Music

Recorded by the brass section of The English Northern Philharmonia conducted by Paul Daniel 1994. ASV CD DCA 90


  • 1: Maestoso 7 minutes 50 seconds

    The first movement is in a loose variation form on a majestic but sombre theme.

  • 2: Lento Serioso 4 minutes 50 seconds

    The second movement makes use of different brass mutes forming a backcloth to a theme for solo flugelhorn

  • 3: Presto 2 minutes

    The third movement is a rapid scherzo of answering phrases between trombones and trumpets, with a rich chordal ecntral section.

  • 4: Maestoso-Allegro Ritmico

    n the final movement the theme of the first movement reappears in the major key and leads to a march-like Rondo, whose last statement is treated as a canon


Composer's note: This work came about through the enthusiam of BBC radio producer Jim Parr for the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. Jim Parr admired my music and generously supported it from 1976-1982. Sinfonietta is the most extended new work to be composed for the group and is dedicated to him.

Shortly after I signed with Faber in 1983 they decided to publish 'Sinfonietta' but Publishing Director Martin Kingsbury insisted it be shortened by 3 minutes since there were 'too many pages.' Performers not surprisingly found the work unsatisfactory and I insisted it be put back to its former glory. A paste-up was made by Faber but it was not fully re-published in correct form until 2004 by my own publishing company Highbridge Music.



Christian Jones, bass trombonist in the Opera North Brass Ensemble, recalls that a memorable performance of Howard Blake's 'Sinfonietta' was conducted by Paul Daniel in Leeds Town Hall with virtually the same players who then constituted the  brass section of The English Northern Philharmonia. The concert was recorded and issued on the ASV label along with the premiere of Howard's Violin Concerto.

Review of Sinfonietta: 'The four movements of Sinfonietta are extremely well written for the instruments, demanding much virtuosity, for example, in the brisk Scherzo---this is admirably fluent, well-balanced music.'

Stephen Pettitt, The Times


29th February 2020 Cambridge University Brass Ensemble conducted by Chris Lawrence, Wolfson College. 1.30pm
10th June 2019 Sinfonietta Brass Ensemble, Stockholm, directed by Eirik Bernhard Steins, St. Goran's, Stockholm, Sweden
19th July 2015 Presented by Michael Leighton Jones, 'Sinfonietta' will be the centrepiece in a spectacular for brass at St John's church East Malvern, Melbourne, Australia.
8th December 2007 Prime Brass, Linton Village College,Cambridgeshire, 7.30pm
5th May 1985 Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Farewell performance by the PJBE attended by the great Harry Mortimer CBE who suggested the adaptation of the work for the British Brass Band Open and a new name 'Fusions'.


'The four movements are extremely well written for the instruments, demanding much virtuosity, for example, in the brisk Scherzo---this is admirably fluent, well-balanced music.'

Stephen Pettitt, The Times, 27/1/1986

Zsolt Djorko used a resourceful palette of 'effects'...but the Sinfonietta of Howard Blake, though more conservative in idiom and structure, sounded distinctly brassier in conception, with the helter-skelter moto perpetuo movements cannily balanced by some bluesy 'three in the morning' writing. It certainly seemd to please the audience whose rapturous applause was rewarded by an encore...

Richard Morrison [reviewing the farewell concert of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble at the QEH], the Times, 5/11/1985

Related Works

'FUSIONS' op.361 (January 1986)
An arrangement of 'Sinfonietta for 10 brass' as a concert work for brass band

Related Autobiography Chapters

tv: 'THE UP-AND-DOWN-MAN' (1972)

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