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Russian Serenade

Russian Serenade

Borodin, Alexander

Arr. Naff, George


  • Ensemble: Concert Band
  • Genre: Modern Classical
  • Grade: 4
  • Duration: 6.0 minutes
  • Catalog Number: AOS1686

A Personal Word About the Composer and His Original Work...

Alexander Borodin (pronounced "Bor-o-deen"), the composer whose lovely theme I "borrowed" for Russian Serenade, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1833. He is known best for his symphonies, his two string quartets, the symphonic poem In the Steps of Asia and his opera Prince Igor. The theme for Russian Serenade came from Borodin's original melody for his Polovtsian Dances in his opera Prince Igor. This theme is considered by many to be one of the loveliest melodies ever written - and he wasn’t even a music major! Borodin was a renowned chemist. Music composition was his
avocation. I'm not the first composer to borrow this melody from Mr. Borodin. I suspect most of us, of a certain age, will remember this tune as a very famous ballad – Stranger in Paradise, which was one of several Borodin melodies used for the musical Kismet, first performed on Broadway in 1953. A film version was produced in 1955 by Metro- Goldwyn-Mayer. The first half of Russian Serenade is scored mostly for woodwinds and mallet percussion. Though it is not actually a band transcription, it loosely follows the original score which was orchestrated by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander
Glazunov after Borodin’s death in 1877. The second half of the piece is an original setting of the theme featuring a brass lead which is designed to take advantage of the musical colors and powerful presence of a large wind symphony. I arranged this piece because I’ve loved it since I was a child, and I can’t think of a more beautiful melody than Borodin’s creation. I hope you enjoy it.

A Note for the Conductor...
This arrangement is loaded with cues. Feel free to mix and match as you see fit to achieve the best sound. With the cues, and with different sections playing the melodic line, you have the prerogative of putting together the best combination of instruments and players to achieve the loveliest sound possible. Beauty of tone, blend, and balance always are the most important criteria.

About the Arranger...
George E. Naff, former Conductor of the Duke University Wind Symphony, is semiretired as the Director of the Spirit of America National Honor Bands performing tours of Europe. Currenty he works as a composer, arranger, and consultant for high school and college bands and orchestras and with music groups traveling to Europe. Dr. Naff has taught instrumental music on every level and has served as a conductor/clinician and adjudicator for hundreds of groups in the U.S. and Canada. A former member of the U.S. Air Force Band, he also served as a high school band director and as a former band director and music professor at East Carolina University and East Tennessee State University.


  • Flutes 1-2
  • Oboe
  • Clarinet in B♭ 1-3
  • Bass Clarinet in B♭
  • Bassoon
  • Alto Saxophone 1-2
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Trumpet in B♭ 1-3
  • Horns 1-2
  • Trombones 1-3
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • String Bass
  • Timpani
  • Orchestra Bells
  • Vibraphone
  • Triangle

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