Bacchus on Blue Ridge

From Wind Repertory Project
Joseph Horovitz

Joseph Horovitz

General Info

Year: 1973 / 1983
Duration: c. 19:25
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Molenaar Edition
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - €265.24   |   Score Only (print) - €38.90


1. Moderato
2. Blues
3. Vivo


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet I-II
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III-IV
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Tuba (div.)
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bongos
  • Crash Cymbal
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Temple Blocks
  • Triangle
  • Woodblock
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Blue Ridge Mountains of North America have inspired many composers. The melodic and rhythmic patterns associated with that region provide a wholesome rustic diet, which may balance our urban sophistication.

The three movements of this work are composed on simple symphonic structures, but they include a programmatic element linked by the idea of Bacchus, the god of wine, women and song. To me personally (and probably without conscious foundation), Bacchus has always been a rather jazzy city dweller, which occasionally leaves the rat race of Olympus for a weekend in the country. The course of this work may be taken as a light-hearted illustration of such thoughts. Jazz elements mingle with country-dance, blues merge with prairie-style, and Valse de Paris is subdued by hoedown. The composition went through many forms from 1974 onwards, and was realized in its final stage for symphonic wind band at the end of 1983.

- Program Note by composer

Joseph Horovitz composed the original version of Bacchus on Blue Ridge for orchestra in 1974. Following a later visit with Frank Battisti in Boston, he began planning a setting for wind band, which was completed near the end of 1983. The new version was premiered by Nigel Taylor and the Harmonie 84 Conservatory Band at the BASBWE Conference in Manchester on November 4, 1984. In 1995 the work received international exposure when performed at the WASBE Conference in Kortrijk by the Kent Schools Symphonic Wind Band, conducted by Jeffrey V. Martin.

According to Horovitz, this title refers to an imaginary scene, possibly in a ballet, in which the jolly, rotund, and naughty little god Bacchus (lover of wine, women, and song) leaves the normal rat race of Mount Olympus for a weekend in the American Blue Ridge Mountains. Although Bacchus is usually considered a rather jazzy city dweller, the composer felt that he should balance his urban sophistication with the wholesome rustic diet found in this Appalachian Mountain range, stretching from Washington, D.C. to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The composer thinks of this piece as "a sort of hillbilly symphony which has a built-in programme of imaginary events."

Movement 1, Moderato, utilizes a solo bassoon to portray Bacchus in a grumpy mood, which improves as he thinks of the approaching weekend. Movement 2, Blues, opens with solo horn indicating that our hero is alone and somewhat hung over from too much liquid moonshine. He dozes, dreams of an exciting youthful visit to Paris, and eventually goes back to sleep. Movement 3, Vivo, a jazz-pervaded hoedown (opening with solo trumpet), can be seen as a Blue Ridge reel danced by the rural revelers who welcome Bacchus to their Saturday night shindig and challenge him to keep going through an intense and accelerating finale.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band


State Ratings

  • Tennessee: VI
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Horovitz, J. (1984). Bacchus on Blue Ridge: A Divertimento for Symphonic Band [score]. Molenaar: Wormerveer, Neth.
  • Perusal score
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 299-300