Suitable for advanced hornists.   Duration, 20 minutes.  The orchestral work should be played on subscription concerts. Versions are available for orchestra, band, chamber group, and soloist and piano.  See orchestration.   See printable documents.  See performances.  See publisher information.  See Reviews.  See Audio Samples.

Now Available - Audio Samples - Click Here

About "The Glass Bead Game" - a Concerto for Horn and Orchestra or Band

"The Glass Bead Game" is a Horn Concerto loosely based on the Herman Hesse novel of the same title.  In the first movement, two main themes dominate.  The work opens with a bi-tonal motif based in Eb Major and A Major.  This musical idea is meant to represent Herman Hesse's existential philosophy about life which is reflected in his novel.  Simply put, Hesse believed that man exists as an individual in a purposeless universe that is basically hostile.  This conflict between man and his environment is represented by the juxtaposition of the two keys.  His main character of this novel in fact succumbs to the cold waters of a glacier fed lake at the end of this book.  The other main theme is a leitmotif representing the main character, Joseph Knecht; and is first stated by the Solo Horn at letter A of the first movement.  The dialogue of this theme between solo horn, flute, and piccolo was inspired by the introduction of the Music Master in this novel.  Joseph Knecht meets the Music Master, who accepts our main character into the intellectual society of the elite Castalia.

The second movement is dedicated to Father Jacobus.  While the first movement leitmotif for Joseph Knecht was based on 5ths going up; Father Jacobus' leitmotif is based on 5ths going down.  The second movement makes much use of sounds sustained into each other as you would hear in a Great Cathedral.  The movement is meant to reflect the peace that Joseph Knecht felt with his introduction to history and religion.

The final movement is the most programmatic.  This movement begins with the opening celebration of Joseph Knecht's coronation to the post of Magister Ludi.  The celebration is heard at first from a great distance.  Since Joseph Knecht is reticent about his promotion to this high post, the horn soloist, representing our main character, never plays the celebration march melody.  The solo horn instead answers this march melody with protest.  This opening section of the final movement grows to a frenzy, introducing us finally to the Presto Theme featuring the solo horn. The theme from the second movement is briefly referenced at letter Mm as Joseph Knecht, now burdened with the responsibilities as Magister Ludi, reflects on his more tranquil past at the monastery with Father Jacobus.  At the close of this movement, the drowning sequence is loosely reflected in the music when the opening themes of the third movement return as our main character drowns.

Opening thematic material to the second movement is used as transition to return us to the original Joseph Knecht leitmotif at Letter Rr in this final movement.  Programmatically this is referencing the end of this great novel where Joseph Knecht's student, Tito, is now sitting on the lake's shore in shock over the death of his teacher, Joseph Knecht.  But our main character lives on in Tito's mind as a wonderful teacher and mentor.

The Glass Bead Game is now available with orchestra, wind ensemble, chamber ensemble written for piano, harp, and percussion, and a version for piano published by Hal Leonard Music.

Greg Hustis, Principal Horn with the Dallas Symphony, has recorded this work with full orchestra.  Kent Leslie, Principal Horn with the Lafayette Symphony and member of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, has recorded the chamber version of this piece, and Rick Graef, Assistant Principal Horn with the Indianapolis Symphony, has recorded the band version of this concerto with the DePauw University Band.


1 Flute

2 Horns in F

1 Piccolo

2 Trumpets in Bb

1 Oboe

2 Percussion

1 English Horn

1 Piano

2 Bb Clarinets

1 Harp

2 Bassoons

1 Solo Horn

String Section

Violin I
Violin II

  This work was commissioned by and dedicated to Kent L. Leslie and is loosely based on the Herman Hesse novel, "The Glass Bead Game".

  Performance Duration 18 minutes

1st Movement - 7 1/2
2nd Movement - 4 1/2
3rd Movement - 6

Band Instrumentation

Solo Horn 1 Alto Saxophone
1 Piccolo 1 Tenor Saxophone
2 Flutes 1 Baritone Saxophone
1 Oboe 3 Bb Trumpet
2 Bassoon 4 French Horn
1 Eb Clarinet 3 Trombone
3 Bb Clarinet 1 Baritone
1 Bass Clarinet 1 Tuba
1 Timpani 3 Percussion


About "The Glass Bead Game"     




Kent Leslie has performed this work with the following orchestras:

Anderson Symphony (Indiana)
Ball State University
Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra (premiere)
Lafayette Symphony Orchestra
Carmel Symphony Orchestra
Indiana State University

He has also performed the chamber version of the piece on a CD entitled "The Glass Bead Game".  The chamber version is for horn, harp, piano, and percussion.  For a copy of the CD, he can be reached at

Mr. Leslie played the Wind Ensemble version of "The Glass Bead Game" with the Purdue University Band.  This version was commissioned by the Purdue Band, Jay Gephart, music director.

This band version has been recorded by the DePauw University Band with Rick Graef as soloist.  Rick, a member of the Indianapolis Symphony and a former horn instructor at DePauw,  has also performed the work in recital with piano reduction.

Other Orchestra Performances

Ensemble Soloist Year
Broward Youth Jaclyn Perez 2007
El Paso Youth 2011
Indianapolis  Rob Danforth 2002
Lone Tree Michael Thornton 2011
Loudoun  Larry Williams 2008
Music in the Mtns Greg Hustis 2003
Prince George's Larry Williams 2010
U. of Wisc. Oshkosh Bruce Atwell 2011
Ball State Gene Berger
St. Olaf Ellen Krubsack
East Kentucky Univ.
I.U. Student Orch Tracy Bass


Other Band Performances

Ensemble Soloist Year
Allegheny College Tom Leech 2002
Atlanta Youth Jeff Nelsen 2008
Augustana College Andrew Vercruysse 2004
Brandywine Wind 2009
Capital Wind Dinia Yeo 2012
Carnegie Mellon
CIM 2012
Downers Grove N. HS James Burke 2013
Greater Dallas Jeff Nelsen 2007
Hartt School of Music Jackie DesRosier 2011
Illinois Wesleyan 2012
Indiana University Jeff Nelsen
Interlochen  Gene Berger 2010
Ithaca College Stephen Peterson 2002
James Madison Univ. Ian Zook 2013
Lone Star Youth
Mesilla Valley Nancy Joy 2004
Metropolitan Wind 2009
Northwest College Aaron Sundel 2014
Ohlone Wind Tyler Moore 2011
Oklahoma WE Eldon Matlick 2008
Peabody Larry Williams 2008
Seattle Pacific Univ. 2013
Star of the North Rob Schmitke 2007
U. of Alabama Skip Snead 2009
U. of Alberta Jeff Nelsen
U. of Calgary Alliszon Zaichkowski 2008
U. of Connecticut Jeffrey Renshaw 2008
U. of Evansville Kristina Crago 2002
U. of Montana Jeff Nelsen 2006
U. of North Las Vegas
U. of Northern Iowa
U. of Oklahoma
U. of Ottawa Jeff Nelsen 2006
U. of Texas Pat Hughes 2008
U. of Washington Jeffrey Fair 2014
U. of Wyoming Jason Johnson 2012
US Marine Band (DC) Douglas Quinzi 2010
US Navy Band (DC) Jason Ayoub 2012
Vernon Hills High School 2013
Western Kentucky  Nancy Joy 2013
Wichita State 2011

Verle Ormsby, Jr., horn, performed the 1st movement of "The Glass Bead Game" with the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, Symphony Band on March 13, 2005, Phil Ostrander conducting.

In 2006, Jeff Nelsen, former member of The Canadian Brass, performed the band version of "The Glass Bead Game" with the University of Montana Band and with the University of Ottawa Wind Ensemble.



"The Glass Bead Game" for piano and horn is published by Hal Leonard Music.  The inventory number for this work is #841607.  

You may order this from several on-line music stores, and among them are the following two links:

All other versions, including the chamber version, are available through Jim Beckel.



The Indianapolis Star, Tuesday, November 11, 1997 (Charles Staff)

"In Monday night's concert at Clowes Hall, music director Kirk Trevor and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra demonstrated that the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has a composer in its principal trombonist, James Beckel.

Kent Leslie, a horn player with the ICO, personally commissioned the ISO trombonist to write a piece for him and introduced the results, The Glass Bead Game: Concerto for Horn, to [an] . . obviously pleased audience.

Beckel has written music specifically for the horn.  Wonderfully well-crafted in form and transparently - often luminously - scored, the concerto, programmatically based on a Herman Hesse novel, is filled with melodies that suggest horn calls."

Recording Review (of the chamber version) in The Horn Call, February 1999

"The outstanding piece of chamber music composed recently by Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra principal trombonist James Beckel takes as its program Hermann Hesse's novel by the same title.  It is a tightly-constructed piece, juxtaposing tonal centers of E-flat and A in representing Hesse's existential philosophy of life: the conflict between man and his environment.  Performers most familiar with the novel will undoubtedly understand the underlying leitmotif ideas about characters [Joseph] Knecht, Father Jacobus, and the Music Master.  However, audiences and performers not as familiar with the literary background to the work will still be struck by the musical content.  The work utilizes rising 5ths, . . .  motivic repetition and ostinato, oscillating figures, many meters, whole-tone scale fragments, and bitonality.  It is in three-movement design and lasts nearly 20 minutes, making this a major work for recital programs.  A great variety of percussion instruments add drive and mood to the work:  piano, harp, xylophone, chimes, glockenspiel, marimba, bell tree, triangle, timpani, vibraphone, drum set, gong, and wind chimes.  A gamut of moods from the most subtle to powerful and angular keep the listener's attention throughout.  This is a marvelous new work that deserves to be explored further."


Audio Samples

The following links are for a recording by the U.S Marine Band™, a performance by "The President's Own™", with Major Jason Fettig conducting and Douglas Quinzi playing the solo horn.  These tracks are from the U.S. Marine Band™. 

Mvt I - The Call and Awakening
Mvt 2 - Father Jacobus
Mvt 3 - Magister Ludi Coronation and Death

The first three tracks in the player contain one sample of each movement of "The Glass Bead Game" from a Crystal Records CD (CD773) with Greg Hustis and the Dallas Philharmonia performing.  The CD is copyright 2005 Crystal Records Inc. and the tracks are used by permission.  Unauthorized duplication is illegal.  You can link to for more information. 

The last three tracks in the player contain one sample of each movement from a CD entitled The Glass Bead Game with Kent L. Leslie performing the chamber version of this work.  The CD is copyright 1998 Hard Cor Music, Inc. and the tracks are used by permission.  You can contact Kent Leslie for more information.

Click the center arrow or one of the tracks to start listening.

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