Four Scottish Dances

Four Scottish Dances (Op.59) is an orchestral set of light music pieces composed by Malcolm Arnold in 1957 for the BBC Light Music Festival.

The Dances

Arnold's set, or suite, consists of four dances inspired by, although not based on, Scottish country folk tunes and dances. Although the individual dances are not titled, each is denoted by a separate tempo or style marking.

The composer's notations in the score,[1] including his metronome indications (M.M.), are:

While Arnold did not title the four pieces individually, his music publisher (Novello & Co) has provided notes,[2] which are often employed by annotators for orchestral and concert programs. The first dance, Novello observes, is "in the style of a strathspey"; the second, a "lively reel." The song-like and graceful third dance evokes "a calm summer's day in the Hebrides"; while the last is "a lively fling."[3]

The dances are collectively intended to evoke Scotland, and utilize timbres intended to imitate bagpipes, as well as musical devices such as reel and Scotch snap rhythms. The composer also employs comic elements, such as a "tipsy" middle section in the second dance, in which the ensemble abruptly slows from a lively vivace to meno mosso (quarter note = 112), whereupon a single bassoon plays a plodding solo marked by upward and downward slides, or glissandi, as well as staggering, syncopated rhythms. (Beethoven employs a solo bassoon for somewhat similar comic effect in the rustic third-movement scherzo — "Merry Gathering of Country Folk" — of his Pastoral Symphony.)

The first performance was given at the Royal Festival Hall on 8 June 1957 with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by the composer.


Selected commercial recordings

See also


  1. Arnold, Malcolm. Four Scottish Dances. Scores on Demand, Novello & Co. Limited. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  2. Music Sales Classical (n.d.). Programme Note: Malcolm Arnold Four Scottish Dances (for orchestra) (1957). Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  3. Foothill Symphonic Winds (n.d.). Music Program Notes: Malcolm Arnold. Retrieved October 22, 2015.

External links

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