Ludwig van Beethoven in 1820

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Should pieces for band and/or orchestra be significantly altered to make them accessible for young players?

I have just returned from the state convention where this topic was raised again. For the record, I am not referring to transcriptions in which one either attempts to faithfully recreate the original in a new instrumentation (Finale to Shostakovich Five) or to find a new means of expression through alternative sounds (Mozart Ave Verum, Whitacre choral works). I am speaking of major works which have been changed in terms of keys, ranges, rhythm, counterpoint, length and other factors to make them more playable. If, while reading this, you started to visualize the accompanying slogans–”playable, yet retains all the vitality of the original (as if rhythm and development had no part in the original’s vitality)”–then you know the pieces I’m talking about.

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