AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Symphony No. 1

by William Earl Novak

Institution: Louisiana State University
Department: Music
Degree: MM
Year: 2015
Keywords: Tautology; My Name Is Lion; They Would Have Me Share My Prey With A Heifer; Wine And Milk; La Barbaque; orchestra; no. 1; 1; number 1; symphony
Record ID: 2062161
Full text PDF: http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-04082015-163502/


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 2659 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 authors model for this concept was Leonard Bernsteins 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 1308, while the next four movements last 1351). 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 Dvoráks 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 Beethovens 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 Shostakovichs 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 Mussorgskys Bydlo movement from his Pictures at an Exhibition.