In classical times, Bucolics were a collection of pastoral poems, particularly those by Virgil. This piece attempts to show off the rustic and plaintive character of the oboe and evoke a pastoral arcadia. The piece is in ternary form, with a sprightly middle section in 12/8 in F major contrasting with a slower more wistful outer section in 3/4 in five flats.
The piece starts with a long sinewy solo phrase for oboe alone, improvisatory in nature, which eventually settles on a high Ab, which the piano then supports with a single chord. Two more long solo oboe phrases follow, each gravitating to the same high Ab, each answered by a single piano chord that gradually becomes more dissonant, until the piece dissolves into the dance-like middle section, filled with wicked cross rhythms.