Not at all too long; my smiley at the end was to indicate a Philistine commenting on a genius. Am I right in detecting influences of Beethoven (#6), Sibelius and Copeland – a tremendous evocation of open spaces and a portend of something not so pleasant to come and disturb the scene?
I have written it loosely based on the opening of the Rachmaninov 2nd Symphony. Each of the three movements I am writing echoes a different part of his symphony- the first movement is the opening on the Celli and Basses with the chord coming in and altering over a suspended harmony. The second movement takes the beautiful clarinet theme from his 3rd movement and varies it, while the final movement is going to echo Rach's beautiful tune-writing.
I guess there is a lot of influence from Beethoven, as he is one of my favourite composers and wrote for important instruments that were then not as important. The main point of my instrumentation is to showcase the Cor Anglais, which is sadly rarely used as a solo instrument, I have scored for three of them (which to the best of my knowledge INCREDIBLY rarely happens).
Sibelius and Copeland are both composers I haven't delved into yet, but Sibelius is next on my personal study list. I am looking forward to immersing myself in his symphonies and violin concerto when I have some time!
Background would be helpful. Has the piece a name? Is it written to depict something?
The context is that some time ago, when I was about 13, I was almost going to give up Music. I was distraught because my Violin playing was abysmal, I had the wrong teacher who taught me nothing, I was not progressing and I was losing my spark that caused me to keep wanting to do it.
I then switched to a new piano teacher, the head of Piano at my school. He listened to me and treated me as an equal for the first time as a musician. He never taught me piano, and we'd spend the whole lesson talking about Music. Slowly my confidence came back, I did want to be a musician, partially to emulate this amazing man who was helping re-inspire my confidence. Sadly he left the school, to take up a position conducting the Royal National Ballet. Everyone at the school was fairly sad. Eventually I switched to viola 11 months ago, he'd always be popping back in to see how we all were. He'd been head of piano there formany years, and before that a professor of piano at the Royal College of Music for 32 years, having been the youngest professor ever at the time (26 or something).
Out of the blue 2 months ago, our head of music told us that this amazing man, the old head of piano, was very ill. He had terminal Cancer.
Naturally I was very upset. At this point, I was involved in the idea to write this symphony and had started sketches in earnest. I decided the best thing I could do for him was dedicate him the symphony in his name, so in some way I would be able to always remember his contribution to my life. I wrote him a letter informing him, and asked him not to reply, because this is a gesture that needs no thanks or reply, it simply must be.
The front of the score features a passage from the letter I wrote him: "And as the symphony of existence comes to a close,
as the applause begins and the music fades,
this concert may be approaching its final moments,
But that little boy sitting in the front row, mouth agape, will grow up,
and the baton has already been handed over to the next generation,
and the music will never truly die."
I'm also basing it on one of his favourite composers- Rachmaninov.
This piece details my struggles through that period up until the present day, and illustrates the different emotional nuances with which I can express that annoyance, grief, happiness, love and vitality. The happier variations in the earlier first movement are also wistful, giving way to explosive anger and frustration, but with still a childlike simplicity that pales against the more imposing sounds surrounding them. The constant staccato quavers are anticipatory, ever-moving and drive the work forward, not losing that precious momentum built up by the unstable nature of the tempo and harmony.
The beauty of your work is that you don’t know what’s coming next, but when it does, you know it is what it should be.
EXACTLY. I use unexpected but very conservative cadences willingly and often- I am not a fan of contemporary 'free harmony', but I love using things like inverse german 6ths, interrupted cadences and chromatic shifts, which to me bring the greatest effects. I've expounded this far more accurately and more accomplished than since "The New Heavens"...
Can I say that the developed theme (c. 4:30 -> 6:00) is beautiful? Very precise, yet flowing. And the sudden stop (there must be a musical term for that) at ~6:30 is masterful. Then the new variation on the theme – you have the Bass drum exactly correct.
The timpani is a driving force. I have got 3 percussionists coming to play in this, so couldn't disappoint them when it is performed
The Gong (tamtam) is perfect in the section after that as well.
I reckon you could call it a G.P (general pause), although the effect intended was for that constant momentum that defines the first half to suddenly stop, which should release the tension, but actually enhances
I was initially dubious about the suddenness and volume of the “car-horn” (1:20 -> 2:30) I still have reservations but I put much of it down to the low quality headphones I have. I was looking for that Bass Drum that you use a little later, or perhaps something a little softer and very slightly more lingering - very slightly… some slight fade.
Haha, yes it is playing there. The Sibelius Sounds package I used to export it sounds blissfully awful. I am hoping that it will be much better with an actual orchestra. It is there to bring forth the seriousness of the work, and to establish the themes with more of a 'bang', giving them more weight.
I often stand in awe of people who can string together a few notes; the complexity of what you have done is remarkable, and to get it so right… :speechless:
Very glad you liked it, I think this movement took me just over 450 hours to complete. I have another two to look forward to writing...
Hope this massive wedge of text clears up my intention!