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Symphony on Death & Dying


Genre: Band
# of Players: Standard
Level: 5 | Duration: 17:40
Publisher: C. Alan Publications | Copyright: 2006

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Notes & Instrumentation
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  • Notes & Instrumentation

    Symphony on Death & Dying explores the emotions a person may feel after the loss of someone close. The work is cast in four movements played without pause.

    Genre: Band | # of Players: Standard
    Level: 5 | Duration: 17:40

    Flute 1, 2 (Piccolo 2, 3)
    Alto Flute (Flute 3)
    Oboe 1, 2
    English Horn
    Bassoon 1, 2 (Contrabassoon)
    Clarinet in Bb 1, 2, 3, 4
    Bass Clarinet
    Alto Saxophone 1, 2
    Baritone Saxophone

    Horn in F 1, 2, 3, 4
    Trumpet in C 1, 2, 3, 4
    Tenor Trombone 1, 2
    Bass Trombone 1, 2
    Tuba 1, 2
    Contrabass 1, 2


    Soprano Solo (Mvt. 4 Only)

    Timpani (tambourine, sizzle cymbal, suspended cymbal on timpani)
    Percussion 1 (bells, slapstick, low tom-tom, chimes, brake drum, maracas, tambourine, snare drum, flexatone, large tam-tam)
    Percussion 2 (large tam-tam, vibraphone, bass drum, triangle, snare drum, ratchet, bongos, small tam-tam, lion’s roar)
    Percussion 3 (crotales, chimes, large tam-tam, temple blocks, brake drum, snare drum, xylophone)
    Percussion 4 (bass drum, marimba, tam-tam, suspended cymbal, brake drum, water gong)

    Program Notes
    Symphony on Death and Dying was written after taking a course at the University of New Hampshire of the same name. This piece explores the emotions a person may feel after the loss of someone close. The Symphony is cast in four movements played without pause. The pitch material is based on a seven note theme (E, F, G, F#, D#, [E], C, B) and all motives are derived from the intervals contained within this set. The work was written for the University of New Hampshire Wind Ensemble (Durham, NH) and dedicated to the ensemble’s director, Dr. Andrew Boysen.

    Out of Confusion and Anger begins as a funeral march and is centered around the pitch E. The theme is stated from a solo trombone and then picked up by various groups of the ensemble. After the theme is presented an ostinato figure and melodic bass line build to the first outburst of anger followed by a return to the opening material.

    Of Remembrance is a solemn movement in contrast to the first. The solo clarinet has the melody at the beginning accompanied by soft harmonies in the low brass until it is interrupted by the theme from the first movement. Ghosts then can be heard as singing voices building to a brief climax and then a return to the opening melody this time in the solo bassoon.

    Of Rage begins with an outburst from the entire ensemble. The movement is filled with violent brass, screeching woodwinds, and is accented by barbaric percussion. After a brief return to the material of the first and second movements the material builds to the symphony's climax where violent screaming and shouting can be heard. The movement then slowly returns to the funeral march theme from the first movement

    In Of Why? the solo soprano acts as the griever asking and wondering why their loved one has left them. The movement is brief and recalls material from the three previous movements. After one last desperate cry from the soprano and the ensemble the work comes to its quiet close.

    - Karl Blench

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