Symphony No 1 (Mahr)
Duration: c. 31:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown
1. E Pluribus Unum — “out of many, one” - 8:10
2. “… to give up every favorite pursuit and lay their shoulder to the work of the day.” - 6:30
3. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” - 6:30
4. “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
Oboe II/English Horn
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra Alto 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
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V, including:
- Bass Drum
- Crash Cymbals
- Orchestra Chimes
- Snare Drum
- Suspended Cymbal, medium and large
- Tom-Tom, low and medium
- Triangle, high, medium and low
None discovered thus far.
"Where does your music come from?” This is a question I often receive when talking about my work as a composer. I understand the reason for this question, as the act of pulling music out of thin air, writing it down, and transferring it to a group of musicians on a stage seems to be at odds with how the world usually works. This is a pertinent and pointed query, one begging an answer for many an audience member.
I wish I knew that answer.
I view the ability to compose music as a gift, and I acknowledge how very fortunate I was to have had parents and teachers who nurtured my talents in this area. I certainly wish that I were a lot better at it. Any artist is lucky if self-doubt and self-confidence are at least somewhat balanced.
Artists’ personal experiences inform their work, and the resulting product is often a reflection of their encounter with the world. Blended with their personal philosophies and spirituality, it is an expressive encapsulation of their interface with the issues of the day and the people in their lives.
When given the privilege to create a major work, an artist is challenged to consider making a substantive expression. This is an enticing opportunity that I also found to be rather daunting. This commissioned work couldn’t possibly express anything more than my sense for the human condition — how in the world could I have anything to say that would be substantive? I’m interested in writing music that might pull the listener into the performance as an active participant. Could I create music that might stimulate the imagination and engage an intellectual and perhaps even emotional connection? One can only try.
The symphony is comprised of four movements. The first grew from pondering the challenge our nation and world have to come together rather than grow apart; the second is an acknowledgement of the need to focus on work that truly needs to be done; the third is a reverent appreciation of the love, respect, and joy to be found in others; and the last embodies hope, finding light within the darkness.
Each movement sprang from contemplating a specific phrase or quotation while searching for the music to capture these four sentiments.
I. E Pluribus Unum — “out of many, one” Once the motto of the United States
An introduction presents fragments of the principal musical ideas to be developed throughout the work, after which a main theme is stated. It becomes one of many as it goes through manipulations and variations. Much of the music is based on an overtone scale based on the keynote of F (an overtone scale is marked by a raised 4th and lowered 7th scale degree — F-G-A-B-C-D-E flat-F). These lead to a culminating unified statement that is strong and defiant.
II. “... to give up every favorite pursuit and lay their shoulder to the work of the day.” — Thomas Jefferson, in an 1803 letter to John Page, former classmate and governor of Virginia, describing the efforts made by the revolutionists who formed our democracy
Solos for flute and clarinet languish in a peaceful melancholy during the opening — the introspective, calm joy of a favorite pursuit. A pressing moment of realization inspires action, and an energetic scherzo that derives its melodies and harmonies from the overtone scale ensues. Murky resistance and disorientation are encountered as the path forward is pursued. This is a busy music — it is about work being done. A moment of doubt creeps in, after which the determined hard work continues. A coda pushes the ending toward an agitated climax. Our work is not yet done — much more effort is needed.
III. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” — Paul, writing to the early Greek Christians in Philippi. Philippians 1:3 King James Version
The third movement brings the listener to a welcome place – calm and unhurried, with dissonance at bay. In this turbulent, confusing world, comfort and solace can be found within the close relationships with friends and our reflections upon shared experiences. How grateful we should be for those lovely sustaining memories. An emotional wave of joy and appreciation washes over. More memories return before the movement ends in light.
IV. “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is a common paraphrase of a statement King made in his famous “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech of April 3, 1968. He said, “Only when it’s dark enough can you see the stars.”
Lovely memories can sustain us, but we often rest uneasy under the burden of others. There is indeed a troubling darkness in this world. As Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us, the stars, perhaps representing hope, can be perceived from within this blackened depth. A salvation -- a darkness-conquering light -- can arrive as bursts of energy or gentle, all-encompassing washes to once again bring inner peace.
The intent is that my Symphony No. 1 will stand on its own musically, without the need for program notes that provide insight to my thinking and process. It is my hope that in knowing my path of decision-making in creating the work, the music will also speak more deeply to its listener about our situation today as it shares the clarion call toward striving to make our worlds, private and communal, better places.
This work was made possible through a commission from a broad consortium of over 50 band programs at the high school, college/university, and community levels from coast to coast. Although a performance of the full work is encouraged, the symphony was conceived with the notion that any of the movements could be performed separately. The project was formulated and implemented by Matthew Dehnel, Director of Bands at Roseville Area High School in Roseville, Minnesota. The work was premiered on November 17, 2016, with Maestro Dehnel leading the Roseville Area High School Symphonic Band. It is dedicated to my family, who sustain me with their love and encouragement.
My sincere appreciation for this opportunity to create extends to all of the consortium participants. My new colleagues in creation at Roseville Area High School have my heartfelt thanks for their incredible response to the challenge of this undertaking. Bravo!
- Program Note by composer
None discovered thus far.
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) University Band (Betsy McCann, conductor) – 29 April 2019
- The Ohio State University (Columbus) Symphonic Band (Scott A. Jones, conductor) – 11 April 2019
- University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) University Band (Betsy McCann, conductor) – 5 December 2018
- Concordia College (Moorhead, Minn.) Band (Peter Haberman, conductor) - 5 May 2018
- Trinity University (San Antonio, Tex.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (James Worman, conductor) - 4 March 2018
- Concordia College (Moorhead, Minn.) Band (Peter Haberman, conductor) – 4 February 2018
- Gettysburg (Penn.) College Wind Symphony (Russell McCutcheon, conductor) – 17 November 2017
- Truman State University (Kirksville, Mo.) Wind Symphony I (Curran Prendergast, conductor) – 15 November 2017
- University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) Wind Ensemble (Travis J. Cross, conductor) – 31 May 2017
- Clovis (Calif.) North High School Wind Ensemble (David Lesser, conductor) - 24 March 2017 (2017 Sutherland Wind Festival (Fresno, Calif.)
- Roseville (Minn.) Area High School Symphonic Band (Matthew Dehnel, conductor) – 17 November 2016 *Premiere Performance*
Works for Winds by this Composer
- Adoramus Te, Christe (as arranger)
- All Hail the Power
- Appalachian Folk Dream (2016)
- Blue Sky Day (2004)
- Bridge Square March (2005)
- Bright Side (2015/2018)
- Carolina Folk Dream
- Daydream (1989)
- Dig Down Deep (2013)
- Endurance (1991)
- Etched in Stone (2018)
- Everyday Hero
- Fanfare and Grand March
- Fantasia in G (1982)
- GF Redux: "It's Yours" from A Jack Stamp Suite
- Hymn and Celebration
- Imagine, if You Will (2013)
- Immigrant Dreams
- Inaugural Dances
- Into the Air! (1998)
- Mighty March, A
- Mountain Prayers (2006)
- Mourning Dances
- Mr. Kallman (2019)
- Noble Element
- Passages (1984)
- Quiet Place To Think, A
- The Soaring Hawk
- Sol Solator
- Spring Divertimento (1992)
- Suite for Band (2014)
- Symphony No. 1 (2016)
- Uncle Lumpy's Garage
- View from the Mountaintop
- When I Close My Eyes, I See Dancers
- Timothy Mahr, personal correspondence, April 2017
- Campbell, Tim. "Symphony to get its world premiere at Roseville High School." StarTribune [Minneapolis, Minn. 10 November 2016. Web.] Accessed 1 April 2016