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Symphony No. 2 (Richards)

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Paul Richards

Paul Richards

Subtitle: Refractions

General Info

Year: 2018
Duration: c. 27:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Margalit Music
Cost: Score and Parts - Generally available late 2019


1. Custom‘s Sword - 8:30
2. Tranquil Blossom ... Tortured Stem - 6:30
3. The Roiling - 4:00
4. The Towers of Babylon - 8:00

Movements may be performed separately.


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
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
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V, including:

  • Bass Drum, small
  • Bongos
  • Brake Drum
  • Field Drum
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Slapstick
  • Snare Drum, piccolo and regular
  • Suspended Cymbals, large, medium and small
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Temple Blocks
  • Tom-Toms (2)
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Composed in celebration of Ludwig van Beethoven‘s 250th year, each of the four movements of Symphony #2 (”Refractions“) is a response to Beethoven‘s music, refracted through the lens of time.

I. Custom’s Sword (Adagio – Allegro)

”Deine Zauber binden wieder / Was der Mode Schwert geteilt“ (”Thy magic powers re-unite / What custom‘s sword has divided“)
- Friedrich Schiller, Ode to Joy (original 1785 version)

The opening movement takes musical ideas that comport with early 19th-century norms and filters them through rhythmic, harmonic, melodic, and textural procedures informed by changes in musical styles that have happened since. Some parts veer quite close to the music of Beethoven, nearly quoting his work in a few select passages, while other portions depart rather drastically.

II. Tranquil Blossom ... Tortured Stem (Adagio, molto sostenuto)

”This moment is the best the world can give: / The tranquil blossom on the tortured stem.“
- Edna St. Vincent Millay, On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven

All of the harmonic material in the second movement comes from slow movements of piano sonatas and symphonies of Beethoven, sewn together and stretched such that extra notes suspend across sonorities, like the refraction of light through a prism.

III. The Roiling (Scherzo)

” … Then music raged in me, / rising so swiftly I could not write quickly enough / to ease the roiling.“
- Rita Dove, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Return to Vienna

Beginning as quiet as possible and growing until the full ensemble is engaged, the third movement is a response to the atmosphere and energy of a Beethovenian scherzo. In some movements of symphonic works, Beethoven appears to link the subdivision of beats to the formal design of the piece, and in response, this movement is built upon frequent metric modulations, where the speed of material is linked to the phrase structure of the work. The trio is a brief fugue for three snare drums.

IV. The Towers of Babylon (Allegro)

”… trying to calculate / the distance between madness and genius / realizing that Beethoven’s musical measurements / could take you to distances / reaching past the towers of Babylon ...“
- Shane Koyczan Beethoven

After a brief introduction, the final movement is a set of variations on a theme from the third movement of Beethoven‘s Sextet in Eb Major, Op. 71, first presented in its original orchestration for six wind instruments. As in movement one, some variations stay close to Beethovenian norms, while others go far afield.

- Program Note by composer

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Florida All-State Symphonic Band (Tampa) (David Waybright, conductor) – 11 January 2020
  • Kennesaw (Ga.) State University Wind Symphony (Debra Traficante, conductor; Arie Motschman, piano) – 22 April 2019
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Wind Symphony (David Waybright, conductor) – 12 February 2019

Works for Winds by this Composer