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Bacchanale (arr. Balent)

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Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns (arr. Andrew Balent)


Subtitle: from the Opera Samson et Dalila


General Info

Year: 1877 / 2002
Duration: c. 3:55
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $80.00   |   Score Only (print) - $15.00


Instrumentation

Full Score
Piccolo/Flute I-II
Oboe
Bassoon
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II
Euphonium
Tuba
Timpani
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Triangle


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Bacchanale comes from Saint-Saens's 1877 opera Samson et Delila, which is based on the Biblical story of those two characters. In both the opera and the Bible, Samson is a leader of the Israelites, who are in the midst of a revolt against their malevolent rulers, the Philistines. The Philistines want to bring him down, so they send one of their own, a woman named Delila, to seduce him and discover the source of his extreme physical strength. It turns out that secret is his long hair, which binds him in a vow to God. But Samson does not let that secret slip easily: he misleads Delila several times before finally revealing the true secret. Yet when that is done, Delila shaves his hair while he sleeps, allowing the Philistines to capture and blind him. After years of forced labor at their hands, Samson winds up in the temple of Dagon, one of the Philistine deities, in Gaza. There, he prays to God to restore his strength, and he pulls down the central columns of the temple, killing himself and all of the Philistines inside. Each version of the story has its nuances (e.g., the Bible says Samson killed 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass!) so it’s worth your time to investigate both.

The Bacchanale occurs in Act III of the opera, just before Samson is led into the temple of Dagon. It is a depraved dance performed by the priests of Dagon. Saint-Saens loved “exotic” sounds, so he used an exceptionally exotic sounding scale for a good chunk of the piece: it contains two one-and-a-half step gaps (from the 2nd to 3rd steps and the 6th to 7th steps). While that does heighten the exoticness of the piece, it is not authentic to any world musical tradition.

- Program note by Andy Pease


Media


State Ratings

  • South Carolina: IV
  • West Virginia: III


Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer

Adaptable Music


All Wind Works


Resources