About the Piece

Instrumentation: Full Orchestra
Duration: 4:30 min

Program Note:

“Commissioned by the Amherst Ballet Theatre Company, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Bicycle Waltz celebrates the bicycle — a popular mode of conveyance in use for over a century. The ‘musical adventure’ portrays the delights and perils of riding a bicycle.

Based upon the 1890s song “Daisy Bell” (“A Bicycle Built for Two”), the orchestral waltz presents the tune in a variety of guises within a formal structure of:

Introduction — preparation for the ride
A — setting out on the ride
B — a bumpy stretch of road…a mishap…slowly regaining confidence
A — the ride resumes

Although bicycles and bicycle attire have evolved over the years, the experience of riding a bicycle has remained remarkably unchanged. Whether our individual approach to bike-riding has been leisurely or energetic, sedate or hazardous, many of us have shared in those moments of exhilaration as we set off on our own two-wheelers! And it is this spirit of joy which has inspired the Bicycle Waltz.” – from Gwyneth Walker’s website

Conductor’s Perspective

This is such a fun piece and great for Young Person’s Concerts. It can be as serious or as silly as you’d like it to be with animated you or your orchestra want to be. It begins with the conductor acting out pumping up bicycle tires and the orchestra being the air from the pump. The melody is taken from the folksong “Daisy”, but it depicts a bike ride with crashes, accelerations, and the like and it ends with the quintessential bike horn “honk”!

About the Composer

Widely performed throughout the country, the music of American composer Gwyneth Walker is beloved by performers and audiences alike for its energy, beauty, reverence, drama, and humor. Dr. Gwyneth Walker (b. 1947) is a graduate of Brown University and the Hartt School of Music. She holds B.A., M.M. and D.M.A. degrees in Music Composition. A former faculty member of the Oberlin College Conservatory, she resigned from academic employment in 1982 in order to pursue a career as a full-time composer. For nearly 30 years, she lived on a dairy farm in Braintree, Vermont. She now divides her time between her childhood hometown of New Canaan, Connecticut and the musical community of Randolph, Vermont.

Gwyneth Walker is a proud resident of New England. She was the recipient of the 2000 “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Vermont Arts Council and the 2018 “Alfred Nash Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award” from Choral Arts New England. In 2020, her alma mater, the Hartt School of Music of the University of Hartford, presented her with the Hartt Alumni Award.

A composer since age two, Gwyneth Walker has always placed great value on active collaboration with musicians. Over the decades, she has traveled to many states to work with instrumental and choral ensembles, soloists, and educational institutions as they rehearse and perform her music. A number of these visits have developed into ongoing relationships. In 2018, Walker was named Composer-in-Residence for the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra in Petoskey, Michigan.

Walker’s catalog includes over 350 commissioned works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, chorus, and solo voice. A special interest has been dramatic works that combine music with readings, acting, and movement. The music of Gwyneth Walker is published by E.C. Schirmer (choral/vocal/instrumental music) and Lauren Keiser Music (orchestral/instrumental music).

Gwyneth Walker website

Performance Materials


Based on “Daisy Bell” (“A Bicycle Built for Two”), with bicycle horns in the Percussion section

Duration: 4:30


1 Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets in B flat, 2 Bassoons

4 Horns in F, 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Tuba

Timpani, + 3 Percussion