This work was originally written for piano solo in 1956 (see Nocturne for Piano
, Op. 46). Then Alan Bush revised it for piano and orchestra, in which form it was first performed at the 1965 Cheltenham Festival. The original version has now been withdrawn.
In its revised version, it has been described by the composer as "a virtuosos concert piece for the pianist, with supporting orchestral flashes of colour and points of contrast".
The theme is an 18th century whalemen's ballad called 'Blow, ye winds'; and it is followed by 13 variations, of which the last three are in the style of piano studies, with orchestral accompaniment. The next movement is a Nocturne, which "evokes the nostalgia of a long voyage", while the Finale suggests "the excitement, dangers and glory of a triumphant chase". In these two movements, as in the variations, the musical material is derived from the ballad theme.