Chamber Music for Orchestra
in One Movement
For full orchestra, standard size.
Parts available upon request.
All grace notes are executed before the beat.
Second violins occasionally diminuendo on an up-bow. That's just the way it is.
To thank everyone who in some way contributed to my life experience in such a way as to have made the writing of this piece possible would be a task that would never finish. I would like to rest my case then in most sincerely extending that gratitude upon its recipients, explicitly stated or otherwise.
However, in a sense that is highly specific to this particular piece, I would like to thank the sponsors of the Ashland Symphony Orchestra Haydn Symphony Series: Dr. & Mrs. Russell and Jan Weaver. Through their kindness and generosity, the orchestra was able to embark on an annual survey of the symphonies of Franz Joseph, performing one such masterpiece per season.
Being a member of the orchestra, I had the privilege of participating in the endeavor. While I was familiar with the music of Haydn, having performed various works in various venues over many years, never had his music been presented to me in such a dedicated and coherent fashion. It was through this experience that I gained a deeper understanding of orchestration and motivic development that enabled me to write this piece. So, once again, I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. & Mrs. Russell and Jan Weaver for making this possible.
I would also like to thank Haydn himself.
The piece is prefaced with a quotation attributed to Mother Teresa: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
While she is a figure whom I hold in great esteem, whether or not the quotation originated with her is unverified. The possibility that it is a paraphrase, to a greater or lesser extent, of her words also exists.
However, in the context of the piece, as it is the content of the quotation that bears significance and not the source, any attempts to ascertain its authenticity are irrelevant.
Moreover, to embark on a fully fledged analysis of the statement would require the establishment of what does and does not constitute the qualifications for an act to be considered “great” as opposed to being “small” alongside a definition of what “love” is to begin with — all rather difficult questions to which I certainly do not have the answers and that, quite frankly, are beyond the scope of this discussion.
What is important here is the spirit of the words. Without going into any detailed deconstruction, the statement leaves me with a particular, positive impression; and it is my hope that it may do the same for others. For whatever reason, after I completed the piece, the quotation came into my mind, and the two became inextricably linked. To do anything other than to include it would have been an act of dishonesty and deceit.
To me, this is a piece that exists on the boundaries of things. For example, in terms of tempo, it balances on the boundary of that which flows forward and that which is more reflective. Moreover, it is written in a compound meter that may be approached by either the dotted quarter or the eighth note, though its spirit is always slightly tilted in favor the larger unit. The considerable use of duplets invites the question of whether its fundamental pulse is best suited by a duple or a triple subdivision, again ultimately leaning towards the latter, as is the case with minor flavorings to an underlying major harmony.
Perhaps most curiously, the initial tempo is stated as 'Non troppo lento': it is defined by what it is not rather than by what it is.
I once learned that when the universe first came into being, matter and anti-matter existed in perfectly equal parts with no further development possible in this state of equilibrium. At some point in time — though what time was at that point is equally debatable — the particles of matter prevailed in number by an absolutely minuscule margin over those of anti-matter, and the universe as we know it was set into motion. By what providence this happened I know not, but here we are.
That initial tempo marking, like the piece itself, in its essence resides on that most tenuous boundary of what does exist and of nonexistence: it simultaneously affirms and contradicts the nature of existence itself.
The whole undertaking is parked in a most difficult mode of being in between: perhaps that most elusive treasure for which it fishes is the source of life itself — and the task of somehow reconciling that source with our reality.
It is a task that would prove completely impossible were it not for love.