Down By the Riverside

From Wind Repertory Project
Frederic Rzewski

Frederic Rzewski (arr. Keane Southard)

General Info

Year: 1979 / 2014
Duration: c. 6:30
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Piano
Publisher: Spindrift Pages
Cost: Score and Parts (digital) - $150.00   |   Score Only (digital) - $20.00


Full Score
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Double Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • Drumset
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-tam
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Down by the Riverside for Wind Ensemble is a transcription of a piano piece by Frederic Rzewski, the third of his Four North American Ballads of 1979 where each is a kind of modern-Bachian chorale-prelude on an American work or protest song. “Down By the Riverside” uses the well-known tune of the same name. Rzewski writes “I think of these ‘ballads’ as representing the things I believe in …Nearly everything is derived somehow from the basic tune. In each piece I built up contrapuntal textures in a similar way, using classical techniques like augmentation, diminution, transposition, and compression, always keeping the profile of the tune on some level. The melody may be cut into smaller pieces, stretched, compressed, transposed into other tonalities, and stacked up against itself, but if you look for it, it is always present. These tunes, and tunes like them, seem to have a special appeal to the human ear. You can change and distort them, subject them to all kinds of transformations without destroying them, unlike a twelve-tone row. They can act like a kind of tonal ‘cement’ in a musical composition, permitting wide-ranging improvisation without losing a sense of where ‘home’ is.”

I fell in love with the piano piece as an undergraduate and performed it on my senior recital in 2008. While learning it, I naturally started hearing different melodies from the piece in my head as being played by different instruments, and the piece was already starting to orchestrate itself! After obtaining permission in 2014, I was finally able to complete this orchestration for Wind Ensemble, which has been commissioned by a consortium of groups led by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Civic Wind Ensemble—Kenneth Thompson, director. In the original piece, Rzewski indicates that an optional improvisation may be inserted in the middle of the piece, and while I have taken up the offer in my performances as a pianist, I think such an event would not work very well with a large ensemble. However, near the end of the ballad Rzewski also indicates a short improvised cadenza may be inserted, and I have composed and inserted my own (m. 99-101) into this transcription.

- Program Note by Keane Southard


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Sydney Conservatorium (Australia) Wind Symphony (John Lynch, conductor) – 7 May 2015
  • Middle Tennessee State University Wind Ensemble (Reed Thomas, conductor) – 19 March 2015
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra Civic Wind Ensemble (Kenneth Thompson, conductor) – 7 November 2014
  • University of Central Missouri Wind Ensemble (Scott Lubaroff, conductor) – 15 October 2014

Works for Winds by This Composer