Scope and arrangement
This collections reflects music composed or arranged by Gena Branscombe during various periods of her creative life. The greater number of her compositional output was vocal music, and in the overwhelming majority of cases, the texts were of her own creation. At the outset of her career, songs for a single voice and piano were the favored medium. During her years as a choral conductor Branscombe arranged many of these songs for various types of choirs. Sometimes the piano accompaniment would be augmented by a few instruments, or arranged for string quartet or chamber ensemble.
Her most ambitious attempt at writing vocal music was to be the opera The Bells of Circumstance (circa 1928). Though never completed, there are ample sketches and drafts in the collection. The same year saw the successful completion of her large-scale choral work Pilgrims of Destiny (1928). Other major vocal works include a cantata Youth of the World (1931) and the choral work Coventry's Choir (1944, composed on the occasion of the bombing of Coventry Cathedral in London during World War II).
Gena Branscombe's instrumental music comprises a significant amount of solo works for piano, and several for chamber and orchestra. The Quebec Suite was derived from music originally composed for The Bells of Circumstance. Two of its three movements, "Baladine" and "Procession" were occasionally programmed separately. Many pages of the American Suite, a work for french horn and piano, have indications that it was retitled "Pacific Sketches" (all drafts and sketches pertaining to this work are listed under the former title).
The collection has been divided into two series. The first, "Original compositions by Gena Branscombe", contains works originally composed by Branscombe. Arrangement is alphabetical by uniform title.
The second series, "Music Arranged by Gena Branscombe" contains settings and arrangements of folk-songs and works by other composers. In addition to choral arrangement of folk or art songs, many of her arrangements for chorus are of instrumental works such as Beethoven's Minuet in G, or a section of Brahms's Symphony no. 1. This series is arranged by composer. Anonymous works (such as folk songs) are interfiled under the title.
According to Donald Krummel's Resources of American Music History, a collection of two music holographs, correspondence, biographical materials and published music of Branscombe is located at the Music Division, National Library of Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0N4.
The Gena Branscombe scores are arranged in two series: