Determining which excerpts to include in this project—as well as which excerpts to focus on in greater detail—initially seemed like an incredibly daunting task. One approach would have been to gather a large sample of audition lists and then create a comprehensive list from there, but it would have been an unnecessarily lengthy and time-consuming process to undertake on my own. Instead, I chose to search for existing polling data (in print and online) and discovered a number of comprehensive surveys that I could draw from to create a master list.
The first of these polls was taken from Facing the Maestro: A Musician’s Guide to Orchestral Audition Repertoire. Sanctioned in 1983 by the American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL), Facing the Maestro compiled polling data from thirty-four medium-to-large North American orchestras regarding the most commonly requested excerpts for each orchestral instrument. In total, this book lists the thirty-six most frequently requested bassoon excerpts, as well as the nine most frequently requested contrabassoon excerpts. The inclusion of numerical data that indicates the exact number of orchestras who responded with each excerpt was particularly useful for this project.
A 1984 survey conducted by Arizona State graduate student Richard Ramey (now former Professor of Bassoon at the University of Arkansas) also proved to be very useful. Dr. Ramey polled twenty-four North American orchestras (which he delineates as “A” status and “B” status orchestras) and organized his results by Principal, Second, Third, and Contrabassoon auditions. Unfortunately, the results are grouped into large units of “most asked, second most asked, and third most asked,” so it is not nearly as specific as the ASOL data. However, the variety of excerpts here is much broader, listing sixty excerpts for principal bassoon alone.
To supplement this pair of published surveys, I also consulted more current online data gathered by two prominent North American bassoonists: Barrick Stees (Assistant Principal, Cleveland Orchestra) and Jeffrey Lyman (Professor of Bassoon, University of Michigan). This information shows the frequency of excerpts asked in professional auditions, as well as which orchestras have requested each excerpt during the past twenty-five years. These two lists can be seen at the following addresses:
Taking all of this data into consideration, I proceeded to create a master excerpt list that spans sixty total pieces. From this master list, twenty-five main excerpts were chosen for further historical, analytical, and pedagogical discussion.