A conversation between of friend of mine and I circled around pieces we enjoyed conducting. We soon discussed out top ten works for winds.

Of course, this becomes a controversial subject to many conductors. Arguments rage over what pieces are worth the time and effort, and only doing certain works really matter. We all have a few we enjoy conducting over others.

While I agree that some works are of more “serious artistic merit,” as title through Acton Ostling’s survey from 1978, each conductor has their own palette. Just like food, we just enjoy some things better than others. I will take a nice, juicy burger with cheddar and monterey jack cheese any day, but I am not a fan of sushi. That does not make my choices superior to another. It is my palette.

The same is said with music. We all have our tastes. Snarky Puppy is amazing to me, but my wife can find some of their stuff too busy.

So, as my conversation with my friend continued, we discussed our top ten works for winds. I thought I would share mine.

  1. Octet for Winds – Igor Stravinsky
  2. Lincolnshire Posey – Percy Grainger
  3. Serenade for Winds, Op. 44 – Antonin Dvorak
  4. Symphony in B-flat – Paul Hindemith
  5. Suite in E-Flat – Gustav Holst
  6. Music for Prague 1968 – Karel Husa
  7. …and the mountains rising nowhere… – Joseph Schwantner
  8. Suite Francaise – Darius Milhaud
  9. Ecstatic Waters – Steven Bryant
  10. Symphony No. 1: My Hands are a City – Jonathan Newman

There are some many pieces that could be including in lists like this, but these are my ten. To me, I can listen to them daily and find something new that I had not noticed before.  Conducting these is something I am thankful for, whether in rehearsal or concert. The only one I have yet to conduct is the Schwanter. Still, I have the score and look through it from time to time just to learn.


How does your top ten pieces line up? Do you include any chamber works? I hope so. But, that is something we will discuss separately, and soon.

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