Tallis Variations

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Philip Sparke

Champion Section Test Piece ‘Tallis Variations’ (Phillip Sparke)

Tallis Variations was written for the 2000 European Brass Band Championships. The hymn tune on which the variations are based is the third of nine that Thomas Tallis wrote in 1567 as part of a psalter for the first Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury. After the busy and turbulent opening the first half of the theme is stated by the middle of the band. Variation 1 is based on the first two notes of the theme in the E minor tonality. Variation 2 contains a gentle but very difficult flugel solo and a varied statement of the theme in chorale form. Variation 3 starts with a series of short solos before a serene cornet melody appears. The final variation is an ebullient one, starting with cornet fanfares and evolving around a fugue like theme first heard by the euphoniums. Eventually the music from the first variation returns to herald the final statement before the music subsides and ends peacefully in the beauty of the Tallis chorale again.

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