It’s Derby Week in Louisville. So let’s look at some equine-related music. American Louis Moreau Gottschalk grew up in New Orleans where he was familiar with horse racing. His Tournament Galop reflects the excitement of the race.
Josef Strauss – from the family of Viennese dance hall Strausses- wrote a fast polka about horse racing, even including the crack of the rider’s whip in the Jockey Polka.
Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries might be the most spectacular moment of horses in music. Brünnhilde and here sisters gather in preparation for the transportation of fallen heroes to Valhalla.
Franz von Suppe’s “Light Cavalry Overture” climaxes with a stately galop that will be familiar to most people. It’s a measured trot suggesting Cavalry troops with horses all in step.
William Bolcom’s Seattle Slew suite for orchestra appears on on of the First Edition series recordings by the Louisville Orchestra. It was written for the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and is named after the 1977 Triple Crown Winner Seattle Slew. A three-movement romp, the movements are called “Derby Dressage,” “Preakness Promenade” and “Belmont Bourée.” The work is high-spirited largely because the movements incorporate ragtime and tango elements.