Master of Music (MM)
Symphony Number 1, the “Barthes Symphony,” was written in the Fall and Spring of 2014-2015. Symphony No. 1 is a five movement work written for full orchestra, additionally including saxophones and a larger than average percussion section (including a larger than average mallet percussion section). The piece is tonal, though it relies heavily on non-resolving dissonances. The piece is abstract or non-programmatic, although, at the time of its conception, its author was reading Roland Barthes’ Mythologies, and found several phrases in Barthes’ text intriguing and fitting with the nature of the five movements. The piece lasts 26’59” in duration. For chronological efficiency and economy, the composer originally intended the piece to last about 20 minutes, and therefore conceptualized the symphony in two movements of equal duration. The author’s model for this concept was Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 (“Jeremiah”). However, as the piece came along, a five movement plan was implemented; the symmetry of halves is still applicable (the first movement lasts 13’08,” while the next four movements last 13’51”). The first movement utilizes a rough ABA’ form, with an introduction. The introduction was influenced by Claude Debussy and Arnold Schönberg, in that it utilizes gamelan-like instrumentation and klangfarbenmelodien. The A-section is based on a descending, chromatic motif, pedal points, and sustained dissonances. It was influenced by Antonín Dvorák’s Stabat Mater. The B-section was inspired by various Haydn string quartets, and is a take on a large development section. The second movement is inspired by the scherzo movements of Beethoven’s string quartets. It uses syncopation, and lilting waltz or ballet components. The third movement relies heavily on sustained seconds, tremolos, and passacaglia basslines. It is tacet winds and percussion, to give a drastic change in timbre. The fourth movement is a scherzo, and inspired by Dmitri Shostakovich’s Allegro non troppo, from his Symphony No. 8. The final movement uses a somber ostinato which draws from the Haydenesque theme of the first movement. Many of the melodies are meant to sound highly improvisatory and virtuosic. This movement was also inspired by Modest Mussorgsky’s Bydlo movement from his Pictures at an Exhibition.
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Novak, William Earl, "Symphony No. 1" (2015). LSU Master's Theses. 3249.