The Symphonic Rhapsody was published in 1976, although the genesis of the piece dates back to the early ‘60s when I was a teenager and played the euphonium in a Salvation Army band. The work incorporates an old gospel song – ‘So we’ll roll the old chariot along’ – into a symphonically structured form. Motifs from the gospel song permeate the rest of the musical material so that the work hopefully has a unified whole. The ‘variations’ are less actual variations on the tune itself, but more a comment on certain melodic aspects.
Although the writing is naturally virtuosic in a way which is obvious for such a solo instrument within the brass band, it never the less unfolds many more lyrical aspects of the instrument’s capabilities. Towards the end of the piece the tune is heard once again in its full version, leading to a coda where the euphonium takes centre stage in a bravura manner.