I.                    Origin

A.    Pre-Medieval

1.      existed since almost the beginning of time

2.      mostly used in religious services

3.      in the Eighth century, called “cymbala,” which had 13 metal bells attached to an iron rod and struck with a hammer

B.     Medieval and beyond

1.      correct English for glockenspiel is “chime-bells.”  Term has been in existence since before 11th Century England.

2.      bell lyra came into existence by the 1870’s in Germany, which actually attached metal bars to a frame rather than individual metal bells

3.      1900’s the modern glockenspiel of today was part of the European saloon orchestra

4.      in the 1880’s, John Deagan began attempts at production

II.                 Addition to the orchestra

A.    First inclusion

1.      Handel “Saul”

2.      J.S. Bach “Cantata No. 53,” it written for campanella and it is not certain if he wanted an organ glockenspiel or actual large bells

3.      Mozart “Zauberflote” in 1791

B.     Purpose in orchestra

1.      is mentioned in Berlioz’s “Treatise on Instrumentation”

2.      to provide a lasting ringing bell-like tone

3.      today, many common instruments fulfill the same purpose:  chimes, orchestral bells, celeste, crotale, vibraphone, and gong

C.    Early interesting parts

1.      Puccini “Turandot”

2.      Tchaikovsky “Nutcracker”

D.    Modern excerpt list

Debussy--La Mer

Delibes--Bell song from “Lakme”

Dukas--Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Glasonov--Violin Concerto

Kodaly--Hary Janos

Messiaen--Exotic Birds

Mozart--The Magic Flute

RavelMother--Goose Suite

Respighi--Feste Romane; Pines of Rome

Rimsky-Korsakov--Russian Easter Overture

Strauss, R--Don Juan


Tchaikovsky--Valse from “Sleeping Beauty”

Wagner--Gotterdammerung (Siegfried’s Rhine Journey); Meistersinger (Dance of the Apprentices); Waldweben (based on                                     “Siegfreid”)


III.               Mallet Ensembles

A.    used with the Marimba Masters (see marimba section)

B.     mostly used in percussion ensemble groups, not as a soloist instrument, but to add a color change, to provide sustaining notes, and a bell-like quality

IV.              Solo Repertoire

A.    First (and only) concerto

1.      S. Strohbach “Concerto in G” (1959)—for 2 flutes, glockenspiel and string orchestra

B.     First orchestra bell solos recorded by Edward Rubsam in 1902

1.       Not an extensive list of solos because it is not a soloistic instrument







I.                    Origin

A.    Pre-Medieval

1.      keyboard instruments have existed since around 3500 BC, but not specifically the modern version of the marimba

2.      some older versions of marimbas have been found in the Egyptian temples at Giza

3.      Chinese made them out of bamboo

B.     Medieval and beyond

1.      began in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Madagascar, where it was transferred to Central and South America through the salve trade

2.      first instruments of modern orchestral quality were produced by John Deagan in the 1880s.

II.                 Addition to the orchestra

A.    First inclusion

1.      Percy Grainger “In a Nutshell” 1914

B.     Purpose in orchestra

1.      perceived as a blending instrument rather than one with many soloistic passages

C.    Early interesting parts

1.      Richard Rodney Bennett “Symphony No. 1”

2.      Hartmann “Symphony No. 8”

3.      Messiaen “Chronochromie”

4.      Orff “Antigonae”

D.    Modern excerpt list

Bach--Partita No. 1 b-minor, Bouree;  Partita No. 1 b-minor, Sarabande;  Partita No. 3 E-Major, Preludio;  

        Sonata No. 1 g-minor,  Fuga;  Sonata No. 2 a-minor, Fuga;  Sonata No. 3 C-Major, Fuga

Creston--Concertina for Marimba, Mvt. I

Dinicu-Heifetz--Hora Staccato

Handel--Sonata for Violin and Piano in F Major, Mvt. II

Kreisler/Green--Tambourin Chinois

Saint-Saens--Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso

III.               Mallet Ensembles

A.    Hurtado Family

1.      Sebastian was the first person to construct what is the modern day keyboard in the shape of the piano (1894)

2.      Guatemalan family played on the 2 marimbas

3.      had over a 500 song repertoire

i.         mostly adapted from piano music and other classical works

ii.       also performed popular dance and folk music of the times

4.      sons continued in the family tradition and named themselves the Hurtado Brother’s Royal Marimba Band.

5.      made many recordings and continuous tours of the United States

B.     Clair Omar Musser

1.      the dominant figure in marimba development

2.      Century of Progress Marimba Orchestra

a.       1933, 100-piece marimba orchestra performed at the Chicago World’s Fair

b.      selections chosen were transcriptions from orchestral pieces down by Musser

i.                     Eustacio Rosales “Bolero”

ii.                   Wagner “Pilgrim’s Chours” from Tannhauser

iii.                Dvorak “Largo” from New World Symphony

iv.                 Bizet overture to “Carmen”

v.                   Sweeley “Repasz Band March”

3.      International Marimba Symphony

a.       100-piece marimba ensemble to perform in Europe, for King George, and finally in Carnegie Hall

b.      didn’t play for the king, but wide reception all over Europe

c.       repertoire

i.                     Eustacio Rosales “Bolero”

ii.                   Wagner “Pilgrim’s Chours” from Tannhauser

iii.                  Elgar “Pomp and Circumstance”

iv.                 Rubinstein “Kammenoi Ostrow”

v.                   Frank “Symphony in D” first 2 movements

vi.                 Chopin’s “Prelude in E Minor”

4.      designed marimbas for the Deagan company

5.      serious teacher at Northwestern University

6.      composed a significant number of etudes

C.    Gordon Peter’s Marimba Masters

1.      organized in January of 1954 by Gordon Peters at the Eastman School of Music

2.      7 members (5 or 6 keyboard and 1 string bass)

3.      20-30 concerts a season

4.      had a repertoire of over 100 tunes, 95 of which were transcriptions from previous works not originally for a marimba ensemble

5.      Reasons why performing and the percussion ensemble is especially important (according to Gordon Peters)

a.       Percussionists need an ensemble experience comparable to other instruments

b.      Percussionists need an extension and higher development of their keyboard percussion abilities

c.       A percussion keyboard experience will help expose the percussionist to more of the world’s finest music literature, including string quartet and quintet repertory.

IV.              Solo repertoire

A.    First compositions

1.      all original pieces performed were transcriptions

B.     First concerti

1.      Paul Creston “Concertino for Marimba and Orchestra”

C.    Other concerti (but not limited too)

1.      Darius Milhaud (with vibraphone)

2.      Robert Kurka

3.      James Basta

4.      Jorge Samientos

5.      Emma Lou Diemer

6.      Neil DePonte

7.      Peter Klatzow

8.      Frank Nuyts

9.      Ney Rosauro

10.  Akira Miyoshi

11.  Libby Larson

12.  Andrew Thomas

13.  Gary Kulesha

14.  Tomas Svoboda

D.    Modern solo composers (but not nearly limited too)

1.      Clair Omar Musser

2.      Gordon Stout

3.      Mitchell Peters

4.      Keiko Abe

5.      David Steinquest

6.      Michael Burritt

7.      Murray Houlliff

8.      Paul Smadbeck

9.      Ney Rosauro

10.  Donald Skoog

11.  Lee Howard Stevens

12.  Nebojsa Zivkovic

13.  Geary Larrick

14.  Peter Tanner







I.                    Origin

A.    invented in the United States

B.     first model in 1907 and continuing to reinvent itself in 1916 until a final model is reached in 1921

II.                 Addition to orchestra

A.    First inclusion

1.      Milhaud “L’annonce faite a Marie” 1933

2.      Berg “Lulu” 1934

B.     Purpose in orchestra

1.      the instrument was to be a jazz instrument with its mellow tones and its mechanical vibrato

2.      an accepted substitute for the glass harmonica

C.    Early interesting parts

1.      Britten “Spring Symphony” and “Midsummer Night’s Dream”

2.      Messiaen “Trois Petites Liturgies de la Presence Divine”

D.    Modern excerpt list

Bernstein--West Side Story

Schuller--Little Blue Devil (from Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee)

III.               Mallet ensembles

A.    included mostly in jazz combos

B.     inclusion in percussion ensemble repertoire

IV.              Solo repertoire

A.    First concerto

1.      Darius Milhaud

B.     Other concerti

1.       Ernst Toch “Symphony No. 1 ‘Vibraphone ohne Vibrato’”

C.    Modern solo composers (short list)

1.      John Bergamo

2.      Gary Burton

3.      Dennis Carlson

4.      Siegreid Fink

5.      Earl Hatch

6.      Murray Houlliff

7.      Red Norvo

8.      Dave Samuels

9.      Stuart Smith

10.  Larry Spivack

V.                 Famous figures to know of

A.    Red Norvo

B.     Lionel Hampton






I.                    Origin

A.    Pre-Medieval

1.      keyboard instruments have existed since around 3500 BC, but not specifically the modern version of the xylophone

2.      origin thought to be in Africa, where it was transferred to Southeast Asia before moving to Europe

B.     Medieval and beyond

1.      first mentioned by Arnold Schlick in 1511

2.      formerly the “stroph-fiedel,”  which had 15 bars arranged in a pyramid shape with the wooden slabs resting on rope or straw

3.      before the modern xylophone was created it had 4 rows of bars with the inner 2 being the “natural” keys of a piano and the outer 2 rows would be the accidentals

4.      first quality modern instrument of orchestra quality was created in 1888 by John Deagan

II.                 Addition to the orchestra

A.    First inclusion

1.      Saint-Saens “Dance Macabre” 1874

2.      J. G. Kastner “Les danses morts”

3.      Hans Christian Lumbye “Champagne Galop” 1845

B.     Purpose in orchestra

1.      was not mentioned in Berlioz’s Treatise on Instrumentation

2.      in general, it is mostly used for short outbursts of solo nature

C.    Early interesting parts

1.      Mahler Symphony No. 6

2.      Saint-Seans “Carnival of the Animals”

3.      Puccini “Turanot” and “Madama Butterfly”

D.    Modern excerpt list

Barber--Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance

Bartok--Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste; Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion

Bernstein--The Age of Anxiety, Symphony No. 2

Britten--Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra

Copland--Appalachian Spring

Gershwin--An American in Paris; Porgy and Bess

Green--Log Cabin Blues

Hayman--12th Street Rag; Pops Hoe Down


Kabalevsky--Colas Breugnon

Khactaturian--Gayne Ballet (Dance of the Rose Maidens)

Kleinsinger--Tubby the Tuba

Kodaly--Hary Janos

Kreisler/Green--Tambourin Chinois

Messiaen--Exotic Birds

Prokofiev--Alexander Nevsky

Ravel--Mother Goose Suite

Schuman--Judith;  Symphony No. 3

Shostakovich--Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 2;  Polka from the “Golden Age” Ballet;  Symphony No. 6

Strauss, R--Salome’s Dance  

Stravinsky--Firebird;  Les Noces;  Petrouchka                          

Tibbett--Symphony No. 3

III.               Mallet Ensembles

A.    Recording Era “Golden age of xylophone” (1890-1925)

1.       first sound recording in 1877.

2.      xylophone popular recording instrument because of ease of sound reproduction

3.      use was for coin-slot music machines (similar to the juke box)

4.      most recorded song Albert Benzler “Peter Piper March”

5.      golden age ended when dance music became more popular

B.     Vaudeville

1.      only performers that could adapt to live performances, not recording studio musicians, survived

2.      became a desired instrument for “showy” capabilities instead of artistic talent (“colorful showmanship of the performer…and the gymnastic effects of the dexterous player.”)

C.    Green Brothers

1.      George Hamilton and Joe Green

2.      formed the Green Brothers’ Novelty Band

a.       performed transcriptions

b.      new compositions of ragtime

3.      performed for radio and theatre audiences

IV.              Solo Repertoire

A.    First concerti

1.      Alan Hovhaness “Fantasy on Japanese Woodprints”

a.       dedicated to Yoichi Hiraoka

b.      premiered with Chicago Symphony on July 4, 1964

B.     Other concerti

1.      Toshiro Mayazumi

2.      Thomas Pitfield “Sonata for Xylophone”

C.    Modern solo composers

1.      Kreisler/Green “Tambourin Chinois”

2.      George Hamilton Green Ragtime solos

3.      Harry Breuer Ragtime solos

V.                 Famous figures

A.    George Hamilton Green

1.      most well-known xylophone virtuoso

2.      composed an incredible amount of popular ragtime solos

3.      left numerous recordings of his works and transcriptions

B.     Yoichi Hiraoka

1.      brought prominence of the concert xylophone as a solo instrument back to the public after the death of vaudeville

2.      played mostly transcriptions of Bach and Mozart

C.    Red Norvo

1.      first jazz xylophonist, later transferred to the vibraphone

D.    Charles de Try

1.      credited as being the first xylophone virtuoso.

2.      mostly performed transcriptions, little is known if he composed his own music

E.     Bob Becker

1.      given a renewal to the xylophone as a solo instrument and to the novelty music on George Hamilton Green thorough rearranging his works and performing them

F.     William Cahn

1.      given renewed interest to the xylophone and mallet ensemble through his arrangements of George Hamilton Green’s compositions

G.    Dana Kimble

1.       noted scholar and collector of rare xylophone performance footage and historian







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