Instrumentation 2/2/2/2; 2/2/2/0; timp + 1 perc; audience (optional); orchestral strings
Percussion requirements vib, glock, brake dr, 4 tomtoms (high to low), susp. cymbal, bass dr

Timing 4′

Composed 1997

Commissioned by the Windsor Symphony with funding from the Ontario Arts Council

World Premiere March 19-21, 1997, Cleary International Centre Chrysler Theatre, Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Symphony; Sarah John, conductor (part of the Windsor Symphony Rotary School Concerts; 5 performances)

Performances by Windsor Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Niagara Symphony, Regina Symphony, North Bay Symphony, Sudbury Symphony, South Dakota Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Evergreen Symphony (Taiwan), Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, l’Orchestre des jeunes du Québec maritime, l’Orchestre des jeunes de Terrebonne, Langley Fine Arts School Orchestra (British Columbia)

Programme Notes

How does a composer begin to organise sound into music? Where does the inspiration come from? What do we hear in our “inner” ears?

Visions of Joy explores these questions from the point of view of Ludwig van Beethoven, who was, in his maturity, profoundly deaf. It has been suggested that Beethoven’s deafness forced him to live not in a world of silence, but a world of constant static, or “white noise.” Was Beethoven able to hear “beyond” his deafness? Was his inner ear able to filter out the noise? How frustrating must that have been?

Drawing on elements from Beethoven’s final symphony, including the “Ode to Joy” theme, Visions of Joy explores the compositional process by creating an enveloping cloud of sounds and textures from which, in moments of relative clarity, fragments of the theme emerge in fleeting dreamlike passages.

Visions of Joy was commissioned by the Windsor Symphony with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council for the 1997 Windsor Rotary School Concerts. It was premiered by the Windsor Symphony with Sarah John, conductor, on March 19, 1997, in Windsor.


The night opened with Visions of Joy, by Canadian composer Jeffrey Ryan. [Regina Symphony Music Director Victor] Sawa described the work as “imaginative,” and indeed it was. The orchestra layout was unusual, and audience participation — including clapping and hushing at certain times — was encouraged.
The work, which in the program notes Ryan describes as exploring the question of inspiration, was a great way to start the night. (Joe Couture/Regina Leader-Post)

[Niagara Symphony] music director Daniel Swift chose to set the table with Jeffrey Ryan’s brief and succinct Visions of Joy…. The first piece gave me an adrenalin kick from the different level of the sounds. (S. James Wegg/

PDF perusal score

Visions of Joy perusal

Audio excerpt


Visions of Joy performed by L’Orchestre des jeunes du Québec maritime and l’Orchestre des jeunes de Terrebonne, conducted by Bruno Conti

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Full-size Score $30 print, $18 PDF
Study Score $18.00 print
Conductor score + parts available on rental
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