An Autumn Sunset

Grade 6

10 minutes

Composed for The United States Army Field Band. Premiered by the Maryland Winds on November 2, 2018, Colonel (retired) Timothy Holtan, conductor

I began writing pieces with seasons in the title by accident, but by the time I’d written two (A Winter Flurry and A Summer Breeze) I figured I might as well finish the set. I began An Autumn Sunset with the simple intent to write a slow piece with shifting colors.

During my last year with The Army Field Band, the unit experienced a terrible tragedy. On an October morning, literally minutes after she dropped off her husband to depart for fall tour, the wife of one of our younger soldiers was killed in a horrific car accident. Although it was difficult to imagine that any good could come from such a horrible event, in the following days, weeks, and months the 150 members of the organization provided extraordinary support to their fellow soldier, friend, and colleague. In the wake of such sadness, this ensemble of amazing people demonstrated genuine care and love for each other, and it occurred to me that that was what really made the Field Band a special place to work.

I never met the young lady who died in the crash, but by all accounts she was one who lived life to the fullest. Therefore my piece, which was originally conceived as a musical impression of a sunset, became a figurative “sunset” on a beautiful life taken too soon. It’s the most heartfelt piece I’ve ever written.

An Autumn Sunset requires soloists in nearly every section, and has essential parts for English horn and string bass. A harp is preferred, but not required.