COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 84

Symphony No. 8, “Trinity” (1988)

for Band

  • Ave Maria
  • Le Rondeau du Monsieur le Diable
  • Pythagoras

Duration: 23 min.

Dedication: to Simeon Loring

Recording: Naxos 8.573060

Premiere: 1990; Kingsborough Band; S. Loring

Performance materials available from the publisher.

I had completed more than 80 compositions, and was in my 40s before attempting to write for band. I will admit that I was somewhat skeptical about the band as a medium for serious music; it took three friends to persuade me to give it a try. Of course, I was wrong about the existing repertoire and the potential for my own music, and I apologize publicly here and now.

After experimenting with a transcription of Sweelinck’s Chromatic Fantasy for organ I felt ready to write an original work, and proceeded to compose Trinity, my Symphony No 8, which I completed in 1988. I have written some seven band compositions since, but this one is still the largest in scale.

In the field of surveying, the concept of triangulation is often used, referring to looking at an area from three different perspectives or angles so as to understand it in full dimension. In my Symphony No. 8, “Trinity,” I have attempted to bring this approach to meditative or spiritual thought. If one views the mysteries from three different, and to some extent opposing viewpoints, does one derive deeper insights or simply confusion? Whether my work succeeds in providing such a full dimension is for the listener to decide.

Critics have sometimes referred to my music as neo-archaic, and there is partial truth to that. While I believe in fairly complex structures, rich orchestration, and some intensity of drama and mood, I still believe in traditional melody, harmony, and counterpoint. I suppose the “neo-archaic” aspect derives from the fact that I MUCH prefer the modes and progressions of music that is 400 years old to that which is 200 years old.

The first movement, Ave Maria, has some resemblances to Renaissance style and, as the title suggests, views the spiritual world from a devout, perhaps Christian aspect. In the second movement, Le Rondeau du Monsieur le Diable, the perspective purports to be devilish, but the actual musical influences are even earlier, suggesting the fourteenth century or before. Mysticism of numbers and “music of the spheres“ take over for the finale, ‘Pythagoras,’ where parts move in cross-rhythmic patterns—slow majestic chorales in the brass against saxophone or woodwind rushes in rhythmic conflict with them, with splashes of color or additional beat-patterns in percussion. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)