Bacchanals for Bacchus!

I love the song Danse Bacchanale.  This particular song is from the opera “Samson and Delilah” and is Camille Saint Saëns.  Here is what it sounds like.

This is quite possibly my favorite oboe part of any of the songs that I have played with an orchestra.  I love it.  It is so much fun to play.  I also like the opera that it is from.  Everyone knows the story of Samson and Delilah from the Bible.  What most people do not know what a Bacchanale is.  A bacchanale is a pieces of music used in an opera when bacchanals are being depicted.  Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Watburg is another opera that contains a bacchanale.  In that particular opera the bacchanale falls during the scene at Venusburg. 

So what exactly is a bacchanal?  Well, the word bacchanal and bacchanale comes from the word bacchanalia.  The Bacchanalia were the ancient Roman equivalent of the Greek Dionysian mysteries.  These mysteries were to honour the god Bacchus, the god of wine, grape harvest, and vinification.  It is from his name that the word Bacchanalia and all its forms are drawn.

While these words originally referred to the followers of Bacchus, today it has a slightly different meaning.  The word bacchanal or bacchanalia relates to pretty much any party where there is a lot of drinking and other forms of uninhibited partying.  In a tame form it may just be a loud party held by the annoying neighbours or people that live in the apartment above you.  It may also be a rave or an event held at a dance club.

Well, there you have it.  You all learned about the meaning of a word, some history, and got to hear a pretty song.