Fanfare on a Theme of Imagination

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” –Albert Einstein

This piece by Brian Balmages is listed as a Grade 1, but to really get everything out of it that you should, it should be performed by second-year players or an especially group of players at the end of their first year. Fanfare on a Theme of Imagination demands high enough musical attention that it could be fun for an intermediate-to-advanced band as well if they need a concert opener or closer that they can learn in a short period of time.

About the Composer

Brian Balmages is one of the most prolific composers of our time. He writes for all grade levels. His concert band works are a favorite selection for many bands going to festivals, and you are likely to hear arrangements of his works at any high school marching band festival as well. Recordings of his more advanced works like Endless Rainbowsand Fusion would be great for young bands working on this piece to hear.

Balmages lives in Baltimore and is the Director of Instrumental Publications for The FJH Music Company. He publishes several new compositions every year.

About the Music

Fanfare on a Theme of Imagination was commissioned to honor the grand opening of the All Saints Catholic School and the École Centennial School in Swift Current, Saskatchewan (Canada). Balmages writes about it,

This quote [by Albert Einstein] and the resulting music serve to remind us how powerful creativity and imagination can be. Cornerstones of our humanity, they allow us to reach new heights when fully explored. Knowledge will always be important in society, but it will never have the same influence as those who bring extraordinary creativity and imagination to what they do. Let this piece serve as a reminder to those who have forgotten – our future lies in the imagination and creativity of today’s youth.

Analysis, Interpretation, and Performance Considerations

The fanfare begins with a slow Maestoso initiated with aggressive trumpet and horn parts, adding the rest of the band in gradually. Time signature changes (from 3/4 to 4/4 to 2/4 and back to 3/4) give the main theme a feeling of uncertainty, which resolves into the statement of the second theme at measure 9.

A dramatic ritardando transitions into an energetic Allegro at measure 25 driven by mallet percussion rhythms. The theme at measure 29, played first by the clarinets at measure 29 is a variation on the opening theme with a more steady pulse. It is accompanied throughout the Allegro section by interesting chords and ostinati. Balmages is known for his excellent alto and horn lines, and he has a few gems in this piece, such as the alto line in measures 31-32 that climbs up to an ostinato for the next phrase, and another transitional line in the alto saxes and horns at 41-42.

The full band plays a dramatic crescendo at measure 45 that is cut abruptly by a rest and percussion crescendo that feels like it would be a big moment in a marching band show, then you hear the opening theme restating in its original form.

Balmages uses more of his signature woodwind and percussion ostinatiat measure 54, while the brass play big accented chords. There are some dissonant chords leading into the final statement of the theme that will require some careful balance and turning.

Finally, the theme ends in the fanfare style that you would expect with aggressive short brass attacks that build toward the final chord.

Related Works

  • Fanfare Canzonique by Brian Balmages
  • Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland
  • Flourish for Wind Band by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Majestica by Brian Balmages
  • Olympia by Brian Balmages
  • Reverberations by Brian Balmages
  • Sparks by Brian Balmages
  • Triumphant Fanfare by Richard Saucedo


  • Southwestern Elementary School – April 26, 2016 (Spring Concert)