Discourse for Orchestra was written for the Louisville Orchestra and first given in Louisville’s Columbia Auditorium by that orchestra under its conductor, Robert Whitney, on 23 October 1957. Later I had second thoughts about the work and kept it from performance during the intervening years. In 1965 I devised an entirely new score for slightly larger orchestra and altered the proportions of the work, cutting out one section altogether.
The subject of this 20 minute dissertation is announced in the first few bars. The work can be divided into five clearly-defined sections:
1. Preliminary statement: (a) emphatic (allegro); (b) calm (larghetto)
2. A gayer and more impudent view (vivace)
3. A contemplative view (andante tranquillo)
4. A restatement of 1(a) with a brief return to 2, leading to
5. The peroration, and a quiet and enigmatic close.
As in all speeches, there are a few anecdotes and small digressions, but I hope the subject appears sufficiently throughout, in one form or another, to warrant the title I have given the work. It is dedicated to the Louisville Orchestra.
Programme note © 1965 Sir Arthur Bliss