Bassoon Music by Howard J. Buss

Compositions and Arrangements
Grading Scale:
I-II: Easy
III-IV: Intermediate
V-VI: Advanced
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Bassoon music
Click on an instrumentation link, works are listed in alphabetical order within each category.

Solo bassoon, unaccompanied

Bassoon and one other instrument

Bassoon trios, quartets and ensembles

Mixed double reed ensembles

Bassoon in chamber music: trios

Bassoon in chamber music: quartets
(includes standard woodwind quartets)

Bassoon in chamber music: quintets and larger
(includes standard wind quintets)

Bassoon and Orchestra


Solo bassoon, unaccompanied (in alphabetical order, durations in parenthesis)

A DAY IN THE CITY “7 Vignettes” (1986) for solo bassoon. These colorful musical scenes from the city are excellent study and recital pieces. Each movement depicts an occurrence the composer experienced one day during a visit to New York City: Another Sunrise, Off to a Busy Day, The Lost Key Episode, The Waitin' in Line Blues, Romantic Interlude, Sudden Storm, and Out on the Town. "Tonal, charming and imaginative! The low purchase price and the incisive approach of a skilled composer make this a piece worth seeking out.”- PMEA News (10’) Grade IV.
Score Sample: Excerpts.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press


Bassoon and one other instrument - includes bassoon duos  (Works are in alphabetical order.)

BALLAD (2004) for bassoon
and piano radiates a sensuous lyricism and and nostalgic mood. The structure of the work is A-B-A-Coda, the A section is melodious, flowing, and expressive. The B section is more animated and has a playful nature.
(6’) Grade IV-V.
Score sample: Excerpt.pdf - Sound samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2,mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3


Music available from Cimarron Music Press


   
BEHIND THE INVISIBLE MASK (2006) for bassoon and one percussion mixes soaring lyricism and exciting contrasts with intriguing rhythms. The title refers to the complex of emotions a person may experience while reconciling conflicts between his/her internal world and public role (invisible mask).The percussion set-up includes marimba, temple blocks, bongos, tam-tam, bass drum, maracas, tambourine, suspended cymbals and agogo bells.
(11’45”) Grade V.  Percussion set-up.pdf - Score sample.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



Concerto for  Bassoon - piano version coverCONCERTO FOR BASSOON for bassoon and piano was created in 2 versions – one for bassoon and piano, and the other for bassoon and orchestra. The two movements, Reminiscences and Excursions, span a wide range of moods and timbral atmospheres, ranging from lyric tenderness to forceful, aggressive sections. (19’) Grade V-VI.
Sound Excerpts:
Movement 1: 1.mp3, 2.mp3, 3.mp3;

Movement 2: 1.mp3, 2.mp3, 3.mp3, 4.mp3

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



FABLES FROM AESOP violin and bassoon byin five movements: The Dog Who Chased a Lion, The Astronomer, The Camel Who Wanted Horns, The Crow and the Pitcher, and The Rabbits and the Frogs. Each movement begins with a performer reciting the corresponding fable. The music is idiomatic and sophisticated, yet it is accessible because of its strong programmatic nature. This piece is a hit with all types of audiences, including those comprised of children! (13’) Grade V.
Score samples: Movement 1.pdf; Movement 2.pdf; Movement 3.pdf

Movement 4.pdf; Movement 5.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



FOUR MINIATURES (2010) for two bassoons is a vibrant sonatina dedicated to Arnold Irchai and Tama Kott. It is in four movements: Aggressive, Contemplative, Buoyant, and Energetic. The playful, yet sophisticated character of the music makes this an audience-friendly work. (9’20”) Grade V.
Recorded on the Soundview Multimedia CD Duettino, performed by Arnold Irchai and Tama Kott. Sound samples: Movement 1.mp3; Movement 2.mp3;

Movement 3.mp3; Movement 4.mp3 - YouTube Video

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Luminous Horizons coverLUMINOUS HORIZONS for bassoon and harp was inspired by the spectacular photos of Pluto taken by the New Horizons probe. The title refers to one image in particular, the stunning backlit photo showing the illuminated blue sky of Pluto. The austere, yet beautiful surface of the planet reveals rugged mountains, craters, and ice plains. All of these observations are incorporated into the musical fabric of this work one way or another. Written for Richard Meek and the 2016 IDRS Conference. (9’) Grade V.
Score Sample.pdf
Sound samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3;

Excerpt 3.mp3; Excerpt 4.mp3; Excerpt 5.mp3

Video on YouTube

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



Sonata della speranza coverNew! SONATA DELLA SPERANZA “Sonata of Hope” for bassoon and piano was written for Dr. Ann Shoemaker and is dedicated to the memory of bassoonist Dr.  Eric Van der Veer Varner. When work on this sonata began in the fall of 2019 it was being composed for Eric, a friend of the composer. After Eric’s tragic death shortly thereafter, the project was shelved. Work resumed in the spring during the global Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, Italy was the epicenter of the crisis and the composer, having friends living there, was deeply concerned with their welfare. As the composition developed, Italy overcame the worst of the ravages of the disease, and the pandemic took firm hold in the United States. Buss wrote much of Sonata della speranza while at home in Florida adhering to governmental shelter-in-place orders. The 3 movements address an array of emotions he experienced following the death of his friend and during the pandemic: Auspicious Sunrise, Introspective and Serendipitous. (10') Grade V.
Sound samples: Movement 1.mp3; Movement 2.mp3; Movement 3.mp3

Score samples.pdf; Bassoon part samples.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



TIME CAPSULE (1996) for oboe and bassoon is a sonatina in 4 movements: Daybreak, Chorale, Rendezvous, and Homeward Bound. The first has a frolicking and optimistic character. Chorale breaks with the traditional structure of the chorale in that each phrase gets a measure longer and the harmonies contain some spicy dissonances as well. Rendezvous, is in a lilting 6/8 and builds to an exciting climax. Homeward Bound begins with a fanfare-like passage that gives way to a spirited dance characterized by an intriguing interplay between the instruments. 
(7’) Grade IV-V.
Score Samples: Movement_1.pdf; Movement_2.pdf; Movement_3.pdf; Movement_4.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press


Bassoon trios, quartets, and ensembles          (In alphabetical order)                 (Top of Page)

AQUARIUS (2013) for three bassoons showcases both the agility and the sonorous tone of instruments. (A contra bassoon part has been included as an alternative to the third bassoon.)  The two movements, At the Glow of Dawn and Ocean Blue, explore a variety of sonic atmospheres and moods.  (7’) Grade V.
Sound samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3 - Score sample: Excerpts.pdf

View video on YouTube

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



AVE VERUM CORPUS for four bassoons (or ensemble) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, transcribed by Howard J. Buss. This sensitive rendition of one of Mozart’s most sublime works makes an outstanding feature number for a recital as well as a wonderful musical offering in church. Multiple players may be used on each part to expand the ensemble.
(3’30”) Grade II-III. Sound sample: Excerpt.mp3

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



Bassoonisms coverBASSOONISMS for four bassoons (or ensemble). The titles of its 3 movements, Basslets, Moonstruck, and Festoons, are derived in part from the spelling of the word “bassoon.” In addition to musically capturing qualities of the subjects of the titles, they also explore characteristics unique to the bassoon. Basslets are tiny, elegant and colorful tropical fish that when observed in large groups create a mesmerizing effect as they flit about. The word “moonstruck” refers to the condition of being out of character due to being in love. Festoons are decorative garlands of flowers, ribbons, lights, or other objects hung in a draped fashion. Score and parts are included. (8’) Grade V.

Sound samples: Movement 1.mp3; Movement 2.mp3; Movement 3.mp3

Score sample: Excerpts.pdf   -  Video on YouTube

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



CANZONA for 4 bassoons (or ensemble) by Florentio Maschera (1540-1584) transcribed by Howard J. Buss. This late Renaissance work is written in a stirring imitative style. Multiple players may be used on each part to expand the ensemble. (2’30”)
Score sample.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



LEVI'S DREAM (2011) for bassoon quartet (or ensemble) showcases the agility and rich sonority of the instruments. The title refers to an imagined dream of Levi, the namesake of the Israelite Tribe. The Levites were known for their involvement in priestly duties and music. This music has a distinctly Middle-eastern quality. The soulful nature of the slower sections is enhanced by the expressive, luscious ambience of the ensemble. The composition features two sections with original tunes in the style of Jewish folk songs.  One is slow and contemplative, the other jubilant. This is an audience-friendly work appropriate for the concert hall or in a house of worship. Multiple players may be used on each part to expand the ensemble. (7'40") Grade V.
Sound samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3 - Score samples: Excerpts.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



PRELUDE AND INTRADA (2007) for bassoon quartet (or ensemble) features lyrical writing, and spirited rhythmic drive. The Prelude is an interesting combination of fanfare and lyrical sections as well as tonal and polytonal harmonies. The festive Intrada is in an ABA-Coda format and features crisp, energetic rhythms and lyrical contrapuntal writing. This work makes a memorable feature number or an impressive contest piece. Multiple players may be used on each part to expand the ensemble. (5’15”) Grade V.
Sound samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3  -  Score sample: Excerpts.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



RICERCARE ON C for 4 bassoons (or ensemble) by Andrea Gabrieli (1510-1586) transcribed by Howard J. Buss. This late Renaissance work is written in a stirring imitative style. Particularly interesting are the meter changes involving metric modulations, a trait found in much of the dance music of the day. Multiple players may be used on each part to expand the ensemble. (2’30”) Grade III.
Score sample.pdf - Sound sample: Excerpt.mp3

Music available from Cimarron Music Press


Double Reed Ensembles


AMONG THE REEDS COVERAMONG THE REEDS for two oboes, English horn, two bassoons and contrabassoon showcases the agility and beautiful sonority of the double reed choir. The title refers to scenes in a marshland near the composer’s home in Florida, as well as the instruments used to create the sonic portrait. The music is bright, radiant, and at times conveys a sense of optimism, as if to suggest that the rustling reeds contain within them hints a propitious future. The scoring does not require the performers to venture into extreme registers or use extended techniques. This work was composed for the 2018 International Double Reed Society Conference.
(6’30”) Grade V. - Video on YouTube

Sound samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3; Excerpt 4.mp3

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



FUGA VII in Eb Major from Book II of The Well-Tempered Clavier by J. S. Bach (BWV 876), transcribed for double reed quartet (2 oboes, English horn & bassoon) or ensemble by Howard J. Buss was first published in 1744. Rather than intending to elicit a strong emotional response from listeners, this elegant music is designed to showcase the compositional craftsmanship and stimulate the intellect. An optional bassoon part is included to cover part 3 if an English horn player is not available. (2'30") Grade III.
Sound Sample: Excerpt.mp3;  Score_Sample.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



Bassoon in chamber music: trios             In alphabetical order                         (Top of Page)

CONTRASTS IN BLUE for oboe, bassoon and piano is a dramatic, colorful work in 2 movements: Evening Shadows and Summer Sea. The music is evocative of the imagery suggested by the titles of the movements and of the musical “blues” as well. The themes of shadows and water also suggest a kinship with the impressionist style of 100 years earlier. (15’30”) Grade V. Score samples: Movement 1.pdf; Movement 2.pdf

Sound samples: Movement 1 - Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3

Movement 2 - Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3

Video on YouTube

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



DESERT ODYSSEY (1997) for clarinet, bassoon and piano has a strong narrative quality. Because the continuous development of material takes the form of a chain of episodes, the music exhibits attributes one might associate with a journey through the spectacular and awe-inspiring landscapes of the desert Southwest. Beautiful sections contrast with intense and dramatic passages. Desert Odyssey was commissioned by The International Clarinet Association and was premiered at ClarinetFest 1997 by Marguerite Baker (Levin), clarinet; Richard Meek, bassoon; and Jennifer Garrett, piano. (11’) Grade V.
Video on YouTube

Sound Samples:Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3; Excerpt 4.mp3

Score samples (score in C): Excerpt 1.pdf ; Excerpt 2.pdf ; Excerpt 3.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



EMANATIONS 2 BASSOONS & DRUM SETEMANATIONS for two bassoons and drum set was written for Arnold Irchai, Tama Kott, Greg Frye, and the 2016 IDRS Conference. It is in three movements: Variegated Anticipation, Serenity, and Faceted Radiance. The percussionist uses a standard drum set. (17’) Grade V.
Score Samples: Percussion set-up and Info.pdf;

Movement_1.pdf; Movement_2.pdf; Movement_3.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



Gemtones coverGEMTONES for two clarinets and bassoon (or bass clarinet) was written for clarinetist Kathleen Mulcahy during the fall of 2019. A bass clarinet part is included as an alternative to the bassoon. The six movements were inspired by the beauty of gemstones and exhibit a wide array of moods and sonic atmospheres ranging from the mystical, to the brilliant, vibrant passages: Ruby, Opal, Diamond in the Rough, Onyx, Garnet, and Sapphire. (12’10”) Grade V. - YouTube video

Score sample: Excerpts.pdf - Sound samples: Movement 1.mp3; Movement 2.mp3; Movement 3.mp3;

Movement 4.mp3; Movement 5.mp3; Movement 6.mp3

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



TRIO LYRIQUE for horn, bassoon and piano was composed for Gene Berger; horn; Keith Sweger, bassoon; and James Helton, piano for the 2013 International Horn Symposium. As the title implies, the overall character of the music is lyrical, and it gradually evolves from a contemplative and mystical opening to a spirited finale. This engaging work is divided into several major, contrasting sections set off from one another with metric modulations.
(10’) Grade V.  View on YouTube

Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3  -  Score Sample.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



TURBULENT TIMES for flute, oboe and bassoon was composed during 2009 at a time when The Great Recession held its powerful grip much of the world and uncertainty continued to build within American society.  There was a general sense that the prosperity of the past may never return, and that the future may bring even more hardships. As the seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wore on, many did not expect peace to return in the foreseeable future. Yet, life went on. The music suggests the ebb and flow of the intense uncertainty felt by many with the more pleasant aspects of everyday life. Following the lyrical and plaintive introduction, stormy passages give way to sections of relative tranquility, only to reappear. (11’) Grade V.
Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3; Excerpt 4 (the end).mp3 

- Score Sample.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



VILLAGE SCENES (2004) for oboe, clarinet
and bassoon is a charming work inspired by the composer’s childhood memories of the village of Old Zionsville in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. The 3 movements are: Playground Games, The Church By the Spring, and The Arrival of Winter. (7’16”) Grade V.
Score samples (score in C): Movement 1.pdf ; Movement 2.pdf ; Movement 3.pdf

Sound samples: Movement 1.mp3; Movement 2.mp3; Movement 3.mp3

Music available from Cimarron Music Press


bassoon in chamber music: quartets:      (In alphabetical order)       (Top of Page)


COSMIC PORTRAITS (2009) for woodwind quartet (flute, oboe, clarinet & bassoon) is in 3 movements inspired by views of objects in the Milky Way galaxy. The titles of the first 2 movements, The Backbone of Night and The Pale Blue Dot, are taken from the writings of the renowned astrophysicist, Carl Sagan. In his book, Cosmos, he describes how the !Kung Bushman in Botswana refer to the Milky Way as “the backbone of night.” The spine of the Milky Way often appears directly over the Kalahari Desert. The !Kung believe it to be the structural foundation of the heavens and that one of its functions in relation to Earth, among many, is that it holds up the darkness. In his book, The Pale Blue Dot, Sagan poetically describes a haunting view of Earth from a distant point in our galaxy. He puts our worldly concerns into cosmic perspective when he refers to all that has ever happened to human beings as occurring “on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” The final movement, Orbitals, suggests celestial bodies revolving around one another in a fascinating cosmic dance. Moons orbiting planets, planets around suns, suns around other suns culminate in the swirling wonder of our galaxy. (18’10”) Grade V.
Score Samples: Movement_1.pdf; Movement_2.pdf; Movement_3.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



DRY BONES, the well-known African American spiritual (the foot bone's connected to the leg bone, the leg bone's connected to the...), arranged for woodwind quartet (flute, clarinet, oboe, and bassoon) by Howard Buss, makes a wonderful concert feature as well as a rousing musical offering in church. Multiple players may be used on each part to expand the ensemble. The introduction begins hymn-like, then breaks out in a jubilant jazzy section. This is followed by a more traditional rendering of the spiritual. As the music reaches its climax, the jazz "licks" from the introduction are brought back as counterpoint against the main melody of the spiritual. For a bit of humor, as the work ends, there is a "tongue-in-cheek" plagal cadence.
(2’30”) Grade IV.
Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3    Score_Sample.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



The Enchanted Garden coverTHE ENCHANTED GARDEN for bassoon, violin, viola, and cello was composed for Keith Sweger and the 2016 IDRS Conference. The music is meditative and reflective, Buss states, “While presenting the instruments in an interesting and flattering way, the primary goal of the music is to transport the listeners to a sonic world analogous to that of a lavish garden shimmering in the beautiful ambiance created by the late afternoon sun.”
(11”) Grade V. Score Sample.pdf

Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3, Excerpt 2.mp3, Excerpt 3.mp3

Video on YouTube

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



FUGA VII in Eb Major from Book II of The Well-Tempered Clavier by J. S. Bach (BWV 876), transcribed for double reed quartet (2 oboes, English horn & bassoon) or ensemble by Howard J. Buss was first published in 1744. Rather than intending to elicit a strong emotional response from listeners, this elegant music is designed to showcase the compositional craftsmanship and stimulate the intellect. An optional bassoon part is included to cover part 3 if an English hornist is not available. (2'30") Grade III.
Sound sample: Excerpt.mp3;   Score_Sample.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



PRELUDE AND INTRADA for woodwind quartet (flute, oboe, clarinet & bassoon) features lyrical writing, and spirited rhythmic drive. The Prelude combines fanfare and lyrical sections as well as tonal and polytonal harmonies. The festive Intrada is in an ABA-Coda format and features crisp, energetic rhythms and lyrical contrapuntal writing. This is a memorable feature number or an impressive contest piece. Multiple players may be used on each part. (5’30”) Grade V.
Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3   - Score Sample: excerpt.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press


bassoon in chamber music: quintets and larger:                                                    (Top of Page)

AMONG THE REEDS COVERAMONG THE REEDS for two oboes, English horn, two bassoons and contrabassoon showcases the agility and beautiful sonority of the double reed choir. The title refers to scenes in a marshland near the composer’s home in Florida, as well as the instruments used to create the sonic portrait. The music is bright, radiant, and at times conveys a sense of optimism, as if to suggest that the rustling reeds contain within them hints a propitious future. The scoring does not require the performers to venture into extreme registers or use extended techniques. This work was composed for the 2018 International Double Reed Society Conference.
(6’30”) Grade V.
Sound samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3; Excerpt 4.mp3

Video on YouTube

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



FIVE STARS (2004) for wind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon). Each of the five movements features a different member of the ensemble: Into the Maelstrom features the flute, A Distant Glow (horn), Orbits (oboe), The Message from the Cosmic Sea (bassoon), and Dance of the Stars (clarinet). This music is sophisticated, yet audience-friendly. It is well suited for school outreach concerts. (17’10") Grade V.
Sound Excerpts: Mov.#1.mp3; Mov.#2.mp3; Mov.#3.mp3; Mov.#4.mp3; Mov.#5.mp3.

Videos on YouTube: I. Into the Maelstrom, II. A Distant Glow, III. Orbits,

IV.The Message from the Cosmic Sea, V. Dance of the Stars   

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



THE HEAVENS AWAKEN (2008) for solo bassoon & string quartet. The structure of this work is symbolic in that it was inspired by the details of the visions of the priest Ezekiel while living with the Jewish exiles in Babylon. Ezekiel saw a powerful, glowing, and complex entity appear in the sky out of a “great cloud.” He believed it to be an appearance of God: “Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.” (Ezekiel 1:5 KJV) The sequence of events described in the vision is musically represented in a general way. The serene opening gradually becomes mysterious and gives way to a series of passages that serve as an ominous portent to the arrival of the airborne object. The 4 string instruments, each with 4 strings, 4 tuning pegs, and human-like body shape symbolize the 4 “creatures” of the vision. The bassoon represents the “voice” of what Ezekiel believes is God. It should be noted that many people also have interpreted his vision as a sighting of a UFO, described with the insights and vocabulary of the day. (12’30”)  Grade V-VI.
Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3    - Score Sample: excerpt.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



Skylines for woodwind sextet coverSKYLINES, version for woodwind sextet was originally composed for trumpet and piano during the Fall of 2002. This version for woodwind sextet was commissioned in 2019 by Victoria Ward Ltd. in memory of clarinetist David Marshall. It is scored for flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet and bassoon (an additional bassoon part is provided as a substitutute for the bass clarinet, part 5.) No specific city is depicted; rather, the composer captures, in a broad manner, the essence of the big city spectacle. The lyrical and majestic first movement, Panorama, suggests the expansive grandeur of cityscape. The second, Amid the Spires, is influenced by jazz and captures the dynamic energy of life on the busy streets. (10’30”) Grade V.
Sound samples: 1.mp3, 2.mp3; 3.mp3; 4.mp3  - Score sample: Excerpt.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press


bassoon and orchestra:

Concerto for Bassoon and OrchestraCONCERTO FOR BASSOON AND ORCHESTRA was written for bassoonist, Dr. Keith Sweger, and premiered by him and the Ball State Symphony Orchestra in 2022. The two movements, Reminiscences and Excursions, span a wide range of moods and timbral atmospheres, ranging from lyric tenderness to forceful, aggressive sections. This work is also published for bassoon and piano. (19’) Grade V-VI.
Score sample: Excerpts.pdf  - YouTube Video

Sound Samples:
Movement 1: Excerpt 1.mp3, Excerpt 2.mp3, Excerpt 3.mp3;

Movement 2: Excerpt 1.mp3, Excerpt 2.mp3, Excerpt 3.mp3

Music available from Cimarron Music Press



Howard J. Buss, Composer       

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Bassoon Music, online graded catalog of sheet music, rated 5/5 based on customer reviews. Product description: Bassoon solos, duos, ensembles, and chamber music.