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Old Wine in New Bottles

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Gordon Jacob

Gordon Jacob

General Info

Year: 1958
Duration: c. 13:00
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Cost: Parts Only - $49.95   |   Score Only - $24.95


1. The Wraggle Taggle Gypsies - 2:30
2. The Three Ravens - 2:40
3. Begone, Dull Care - 2:10
4. Early One Morning - 5:10


Full Score
Flute I-II (II doubling C Piccolo)
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
Contrabassoon (optional)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II (optional)
Horn in F I-II


Movement I

  • Bassoon I, m.76 (2 bars before Letter G): There is a quarter rest missing at the beginning of the measure (score and part)
  • B-flat Soprano Clarinet II, m.57 (4 bars before Letter E): First note should be a D-sharp, not an E-natural (part may be correct, score is incorrect).
  • Horn in F I, m.95 (8 bars after Letter H): Second 8th note should be an A, not a B [concert D instead of concert E] (part may be correct, score is incorrect).

Program Notes

Old Wine in New Bottles is a suite for woodwind, trumpets and horns, written specially for this festival. Each movement is based on an Old English folk song, and the free modern treatment of the familiar tunes gives rise to its title. Dr. Gordon Jacob had the St. Bees Festival Orchestra’s wind players in mind when he wrote the suite, and in giving every one of them something immensely enjoyable to play, he has written a work of beauty and wit that will enliven these programmes, and unless we are greatly mistaken, many more in the future.

- Program Note from St. Bees Music Festival Souvenir Programme, 1959

Gordon Jacob composed Old Wine in New Bottles (1959) when he was 64 years old for the St. Bees Festival of Music. The festival was hosted by the St. Bees School, a coeducational grammar school, located in St. Bees Village on the coast of Cumbria near the English and Scottish border. In 1959, Donald Leggat, the music director at St. Bees School, approached his friend Gordon Jacob to compose a piece for the festival. Old Wine in New Bottles premiered April 4, 8:00 pm, in Rawnsley Hall, located in the nearby village of Keswick. The premiere was conducted by Donald Leggat and the membership consisted of mostly members of the St. Bees Symphony Orchestra; however, two of Donald Leggat’s former pupils -- Timothy Reynish and Guy Woolfenden -- played French horn.

The premiere performance was entirely successful and the following week received a gleaming review in the local paper: "It is not often to-day that a new work is the most popular in any concert programme. But Gordon Jacob’s “Old Wine in New Bottles” written specially for the festival amply deserved its success. This is a suite of four folk-song settings for woodwind and brass in which the composer displays all the dexterity of instrumental writing and harmonic ingenuity for which his music is well known. The Raggle Taggle Gypsies, The Three Ravens, and Begone Dull Care formed the basis of three well-contrasted movements. The final Early One Morning blended discreet sentiment, wit, and high spirit with a felicitous craftsmanship in a manner which recalled that of a Haydn finale."

- Program Note by Marc Decker

Old Wine in New Bottles is a charming chamber piece, ideal for introducing high school students to the genre or for reinforcing style and phrasing with university students. Traditional harmonies support folk melodies in this audience-friendly work. As with wind band works by Holst, Vaughan Williams, and Grainger, players fluent in light articulation will allow for unencumbered musical motion. Jacob frequently exposes sections or parts in this work, so each player in the ensemble has a responsibility for maintaining consistent tone quality, precision, intonation, and style.

- Notes from Great Music for Wind Band

Old Wine in New Bottles is a light-hearted setting of four early English folk songs. It was premiered by the BBC Northern Orchestra Winds and conductor Stanford Robinson at the St. Bees Festival in 1959, and remains one of Jacob’s most popular compositions. The “old wine” in the title refers to each of the folk songs that the four movements are based on. The “new bottles” are the creative melodic treatments, the unexpected harmonies, and the “freshness” and new life breathed into these old melodies. The instrumentation is that of a double woodwind quintet, with optional contrabassoon and trumpet parts.

- Program Note from Appalachian State University Wind Ensemble concert program, 2 December 2015


State Ratings

  • Florida: V (Chamber Winds List)


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Concert Band Chamber Winds (Daniel Johnson, conductor) - 4 November 2022
  • University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) Wind Ensemble (Christopher Knighten, conductor) - 3 October 2022
  • Southland Wind Ensemble (Ontario, Calif.) (George Osorio, conductor) - 30 April 2022
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City) Wind Ensemble (Tim Sexton, conductor) - 7 December 2021
  • University of Oklahoma (Norman) Symphony Band (Michael Hancock, conductor) - 3 May 2021
  • Cuesta Wind Ensemble (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) (Jennifer Martin, conductor) – 1 May 2021
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Symphony Band Chamber Players (David Thornton, conductor) - 28 April 2021
  • Kennesaw (Ga.) State University Wind Ensemble (David Kehler, conductor) - 21 April 2021
  • South Dakota State University (Brookings) Wind Symphony (Jacob Wallace, conductor) - 5 February 2021
  • Dallas (Tx.) Chamber Wind Ensemble (Reagan Brumley, conductor) - 3 January 2021
  • University of Texas Arlington Wind Symphony (Douglas Stotter, conductor) - 8 December 2020
  • Baylor University (Waco, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Ceon Rumphs, conductor) - 23 November 2020
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Studies Chamber Winds (Daniel Cook, conductor) - 18 November 2020
  • University of Texas Arlington Wind Symphony (Douglas Stotter, conductor) - 9 November 2020
  • University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Wind Symphony John R. Stewart, conductor) - 10 November 2020
  • North Dakota State University (Fargo) Wind Symphony (Wayne Olfert, conductor) - 19 October 2020
  • Texas A&M University (College Station) Wind Symphony (Timothy Rhea, conductor) - 18 October 2020
  • Ohio State University (Columbus) Concert Band Chamber Ensemble (T.J. Mack, conductor) - 12 October 2020

Works for Winds by This Composer