Ballet for Band was written as the test-piece for the Championship section finals of the National Brass Band Championships, held at the Royal Albert Hall in October 1983.
Although the work is not programmatic, within the space of ten minutes, the composer uses a form which might be considered to be the form of a ballet. Therefore there is a fanfare at the beginning which might be the overture, different characters appear, and scenes are quite clearly marked by, for instance, baritones or by muted trombone, although the listener is encouraged to use his own imagination.
Thematically the work is tightly controlled, with the same material re-appearing in many different guises, as a flugel horn solo, as a waltz on the horns, and on the euphonium. Horovitz employs a rich harmonic pallet, but the work is most definitely rooted in a tonal language, with hints of Straussian richness later in the work.
The work is notable for its middle section, in which the music gets slower and slower, providing a real test of control throughout the band.
Ballet for Band was by no means Joseph Horovitz’s first work for the medium: his fine “Concerto for Euphonium and Band” is frequently played, and he has also written a cantata entitled “Samson” for choir and band.