Excursions, Op. 20, is the first published solo piano piece by Samuel Barber. Barber himself explains: "These are ‘Excursions' in small classical forms into regional American idioms. Their rhythmic characteristics, as well as their source in folk material and their scoring, reminiscent of local instruments are easily recognized."
This is typical of neo-Romantic composers such as Barber. As Susan Carter explains in her dissertation, "The Piano Music of Samuel Barber", that "neo-Romantic composers returned to a style characterized by broad lyricism and dramatic expression." She also states that the traditional structures of form from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were conserved while drawing upon a "contemporary technical vocabulary." From a boogie-woogie style of a five-part rondo to a theme and variations of a well known cowboy ballad, and even to a barn-yard dance with a fiddler, Barber uses each style effectively and accurately, according to the neo-Romantic ideas.