String Ensembles by Howard J. Buss

Compositions and Arrangements
Grading Scale:
I-II: Easy
III-IV: Intermediate
V-VI: Advanced
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String Ensembles (includes string duos)

FABLES FROM AESOP (2001)by Howard J. Buss, in 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 begins with a performer reciting the corresponding fable. This piece is a hit with all types of audiences, including those comprised of children! It makes a great concert feature and also is highly effective on out-reach concerts in the schools. “Buss employs a variety of meters, tonalities, and an equality of parts to set this duet apart from other instrumental duos of mixed descent. This is a captivating achievement of great variety and craftsmanship.” - Joel Elias, July 2005 International Trombone Association Journal  (13’) Grade V.
Fables from Aesop for violin and cello score samples:Movement 1.pdf; Movement 2.pdf;

Movement 3.pdf Movement 4.pdf; Movement 5.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press

THE HEAVENS AWAKEN (2008) for solo bassoon & string quartet by Howard J. Buss is dedicated to bassoonist Arnold Irchai. The structure of this work is highly 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 4 living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.” (Ezekiel 1:5 KJV) The formal scheme is programmatic in the sense that 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.
Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3; Excerpt 3.mp3

Score Sample: excerpt.pdf

Music available from Cimarron Music Press

MILLENNIUM VISIONS (1999) for clarinet & string quartet by Howard J. Buss in 3 movements: First Dawn, Meditation, and Quest, was composed in the latter months of 1999 when most of the world was looking forward with eager anticipation to the turn of the Century, and in many minds, the Millennium. The conflict between man’s desire to “progress” in our technological age and his desire to connect to his spiritual past is symbolically represented by an array of musical styles and compositional procedures. The modern world is suggested by passages influenced by popular music styles and 12-tone technique. The longing for spirituality is manifested in the poignant lyricism of the work and its reliance on classical formal structures. Commissioned by ClarinetFest 2000, premiered by Tom Martin (Boston Symphony). (20’) Grade V.
Sound Samples: Sound Sample 1.mp3; Sound Sample 2.mp3; Sound Sample 3.mp3

Music available from Cimarron Music Press

SINFONIETTA (1990) for string quintet (2-1-1-1) or string orchestra by Howard J. Buss was commissioned by the Imperial Symphony Orchestra to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the American Music Center. It was premiered by the Imperial Symphony Orchestra in 1991. The work begins with a beautiful, mystical introduction that is somewhat transparent in nature. Haunting melodies for the solo viola and violin are superimposed over the sustained sonorities of the ensemble creating a deeply reflective mood. The music gradually becomes agitated and builds in intensity as the introduction gives way to a sequence of passages of varying length and character: A fanfare-like transition followed by an energetic segment characterized by driving rhythms and changing meters leads to a section featuring buoyant melodies where, through the fast-moving surface elegance, runs an undercurrent of tension. The work concludes in a spirit of triumphant proclamation. (6’30”) Grade V.
Sound Samples: Excerpt 1.mp3; Excerpt 2.mp3

Music available from Cimarron Music Press

TIME CAPSULE (2002) for two violins by Howard Buss is an sonatina in 4 movements: Daybreak, Chorale, Rendezvous, and Homeward Bound and is both fun to play and listen to. The first movement has a frolicking and optimistic character. Chorale breaks with the traditional structure of the chorale in that each phrase gets a measure longer. The harmonies of the second movement contain some spicy dissonances as well. Rendezvous, is in a lilting 6/8 and really "works up a lather" as it progresses to an exciting climax. The final movement, 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.

Music available from Cimarron Music Press

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String Music Index:
Click on an instrumentation link, works are listed in alphabetical order within each category.

String solos, unaccompanied



String with one other instrument

String ensembles

Strings in chamber music - trios

Strings in chamber music - quartets

Strings in chamber music - quintets and larger

Howard J. Buss, Composer       

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String Music, catalog of sheet music.
Product description: String: Solos, Duos, Ensembles, Chamber Music and Recordings