Symphony II (de Meij)

From Wind Repertory Project
Johan de Meij

Johan de Meij

Subtitle: The Big Apple: A New York Symphony

General Info

Year: 1993
Duration: c. 34:00+
Difficulty: V-VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts - $525.00   |   Score Only - $25.00


1. Skyline - Allegro assai - 14:00
2. Times Square Cadenza - Interlude - c. 1:30
3. Gotham - Largamente/Allegro agitato e nervoso/Con grandezza - 19:50


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II (Double Bassoon)
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
Bass Tuba
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Snare Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Anvil
  • Bells
  • Bongos
  • Chimes
  • Marimba
  • Roto-toms
  • Sleigh Bells
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tom-Tom
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Whip
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone

Recorded sounds


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

My Second Symphony is an ode to New York: not strictly programmatic music but rather a musical interpretation of the spirit, glamour, and indifference of one of the most fascinating cities in the world.

The first movement, Skyline, depicts the massive facade, the “global” contours of New York; in the second movement, Gotham, the brutal, chaotic aspects of the metropolis are introduced.

Listening to this symphony is perhaps as unervating [sic] as an actual visit to Manhattan. The listener is scarcely granted moment of calm: even the more subdued passages are invariably accompanied by an obstinate rumbling in the background, the music never really quietens down . . .

The Big Apple. The name “the Big Apple” was often used during the twenties by jazz musicians: if you managed to play in the New York jazz clubs you had made it, you had the “Big Apple” in the palm of your hand! Today, however, the bright red apple functions as a symbol of the city: a welcome object in the souvenir shops, where post cards, pencil sharpeners, T-shirts, and posters depict in countless variations this trademark of New York.

Times Square Cadenza. My initial plan of writing a three movement symphony with a slow middle movement was soon abandoned since this was not in keeping with the frenetic energy, turmoil and the accelerated pulse beat that I always feel during my visits to the Big Apple. To preserve the tension between the two movements, the idea emerged of a non-musical intermezzo: Times Square Cadenza, a compilation of city sounds I personally recorded, which links the two movements of the symphony together into a single uninterrupted whole.

Brief Musical Explanation. The musical language running through the entire work is robust, angular and straightforward, unencumbered by depth or philosophical reflection. The symmetry of the New York street map together with the massive architecture of the skyscrapers provide the structure of the thematic material. For me, composing this work was both an exploration of the various musical styles as well as a tribute to Aaron Copland, John Adams, and Leonard Bernstein.

The syncopated, restless interval structure of the first theme in the horns, known as the “Skyline Motiv,” follows the contours of the impressive silhouette of the Big Apple. From this motif, all other themes are distilled, such as the extended melodic lines on the English horn, later joined by oboe and piano, and the massive sound blocks played by the brass. The whole is surrounded by repeated accompanying figures on the woodwinds, piano, harp, and mallets: a jumble of lights and the on-and-off flicker of neon signs.

The recurrent use of these repeated sound patterns bears a certain resemblance to minimal music, and there are also rhythmic influences of such musical styles as jazz and ragtime. The addition of the harpsichord [played by piano] is not the most obvious alternative in this context, but it is precisely the rigid, hammering nervous system of this instrument that fits so well into the orchestration.

- Program Note by composer

Commissioned by the United State Air Force Band, Washington, D.C., conductor Lt. Col. Alan L. Bonner

- Program Note from score


State Ratings

  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Meij, J. (1994). Symphony No. 2: The Big Apple: A New York Symphony [score]. Amstel Music: Amsterdam.