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Down By the Riverside

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Frederic Rzewski

Frederic Rzewski (arr. Keane Southard)

General Info

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

Instrumentation

Full Score
Piccolo
Flute I-II-III-IV
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
Contrabassoon
Eb Soprano Clarinet
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Bb Bass Clarinet
Bb ContraBass Clarinet
Bb Soprano Sax
Eb Alto Sax
Bb Tenor Sax
Eb Baritone Sax
Bb Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Trombone III (Bass)
Euphonium
Tuba
Double Bass
Celeste
Harp
Timpani
Percussion I-II-III-IV including:

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

Errata

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

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.

Media Links

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.

Performances

  • 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

Resources