Clarke McAlister is an American composer who has made his career writing for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and concert band; his compositions for the latter are well received by bandsmen and audiences alike. These variations were commissioned by Lucas Drew, who was interested in a piece for double bass and English horn. On hearing this suggestion, McAlister immediately "cast" these two instruments as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
McAlister's work is divided into three separate movements. This "elegy" is the touching final part of the novel. Quixote has been forced to retire as a knight-errant. Gradually, sanity returns to Quijana, who renounces his mad imagining of himself as a knight. Sancho sadly tries to revive the old man's imagination, but fails. Qujiana dies, the band falls silent, and the English horn has a final farewell solo. The double bass plays Quixote's music briefly, a hint at his literary immortality.