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A Symphonic Poem

Description
I wrote this piece over the spring of 2015. At that time I knew I had the opportunity to have one of
my compositions performed and I would conduct it, so I decided to set out and write this piece.
This piece is not a typical symphonic poem, but rather what I would see as a culmination of my
High School composition career. As such, I took ideas from many different sources and different
significant pieces that I have encountered throughout my musical life so far.
The piece starts with a horn solo, of which I borrowed the idea from Schuberts 9th symphony, one
of my favourite symphonies. Then I went into a woodwind and brass melodic section where I had a
great deal of imitation between the instruments, this is a very common device I use in my
compositions. Underneath that texture, I place a layer of string 16th notes to create a seemingly
wave like atmosphere. I also make use of the high register of the cello, as that is in my opinion,
one of the most intense melodic ranges of any string instrument. After this section, I have a subito
piano, this is another of my characteristics, I use very dramatic changes in dynamics to create
tension in my music. As I continue my development, I use a simpler version of the melody, a
truncated one. After this it can also be seen that I use a minor triad followed by the same triad but
major (i.e. moving the third up a semitone), this is a technique I also use a lot to draw out the music
and give it space to breathe. I follow this up with one of my favourite rhythms in 4/4 time: The q. q. q
beat pattern. I find that this pattern creates a lot of drive in the music. Exploring these non-standard
rhythms is one of the inspirations the Grammy-award winning composer Christopher Tin let me to
discover when he visited our school. Following this, the next significant thing of note is the solo
sections, this acts as it is a string quartet, and this idea stems from Gershwins An American in
Paris, where he used the same technique. Following, I created a complete change in tone with my
march theme, one of my dreams when I started composing was to compose something grand and
expansive, to this, I think this march along with the proceeding brass and woodwind choirs section
have completely achieved this. It is also here where the piano makes its first appearance, the
piano plays nothing more than arpeggios, but this is all thats needed. This idea comes from SaintSaens Organ Symphony, where the piano is also used similarly. The piano then returns in a
seemingly cadenza section of arpeggios and chromaticism, I find this to be the weakest link in my
piece, but I deem it necessary as it transitions from my last section cleanly into my next. In the
following section, I have a very familiar orchestral sequence of 4 notes, then followed by the
timpani, this is to lead back into what may be considered a restatement of the first idea. This time,
though, I am preparing for my fugue. The fugue is what I consider the crowning jewel in my work.
This fugue is heavily inspired by the Cum Sancto Spiritu in Mozarts Great Mass, however, I do
include my own inventions of stretto, and the various voicing of my instruments. In this piece, I
would dare say that I spent over 80% of the time on the fugue alone. As the fugue comes to an
end, I enter into my final theme, the idea here is to recreate some kind of dance from eastern
europe, maybe hungarian or polish. But mostly to push the music up to the finale. The next thing of
note is again the subito piano section, this section is entire made up of divisive rhythms (again a
thing I learnt from An American in Paris), but also the instruments slowly enter. Penultimately, the
first theme is restated with more embellishments around it. And finally, the Oboe plays the role of
the horn and plays similar material, except here, I do something I have never done before and is
something special: I end my piece on the secondary dominant (V of V) to create a feeling of
mystical hope.
As this piece is for my school orchestra, the instrumentation cannot be a full orchestra and must be
a reduced one, I felt somewhat limited by this, but I tried my best to implement my ideas within the
limitation as well. Of course, the abilities of my players must also be taken into account, this I
sometimes stretched in this, and as I have found as I am conducting it now, these issues are quite
difficult to solve. This piece is to be premiered at my schools spring concert in early March this
year.