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Symphony No. 1:

Popular Music of Planet X

for Orchestra

(click here for the Piano Quintet chamber version)


Composed September 1990; 2004; February 10--May 27, 2015;
Nov.2--Dec. 8, 2023: orcestration completed February 14, 2024

Duration: about 26 minutes         cover: London casino, 1938
for Stephen Reynolds and Susan Osborne

Full Score, PDF        Cover      letter-size Parts, f&b, PDF

Links on movements I, II, and IV are for the concert band versions, each of which is a separate piece.

I. Polytonalmodalyodel

Giant leaps for all mankind    [7']   

II. A Little Poem

Largo    [5:44]     

III. Scherzo Affective Disorder
S.A.D.; Trio; S.A.D    [6:30]    

IV. Burlesque     
Allegro spogliarello: More Bump: Tempo I: Dolce: More Bump   

          In 1990 I wrote several works for my friend Fred Robinson who was the composer/arranger at Warner Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. Among these was a work for jazz band, The Popular Music of Planet X in three “Books”. The idea was the rather whimsical one that somewhere among the myriad planets there could be a civilization where the prime incentive for the music industry was not mercenary. Clearly such a planet must be far, far away. I also wrote some chamber works, including a brass quintet. The Air Force didn’t seem to appreciate the effort, and the score and parts were returned. (When you bomb with the Air Force….you REALLY BOMB!) 
          In 2004 I wrote new versions of these scores, but still could not find performance. Thus in 2015 I started over, this time with the PMPX as a symphony for concert band. The only surviving movement from the old PMPX was the bulk of Burlesque (then titled Bump and Grind). The first movement was originally from the now-defunct brass quintet of 1990 and 2004. The second movement's opening was from the original PMPX, and has a chamber version for piano and woodwind quintet. The third movement was from the Clarinet Sextet.
         As the piece remained unperformed, I realized it would be better for orchestra as Symphony No. 1: Popular Music of Planet X. Orchestral writing is much more to my taste and experience than band. I first composed a piano quintet version to make various improvements, and to get the piece performed and recorded. The third movement is new, inspired by a few bits from the original third movement from 1990. The four movements of the concert band version of PMPX are available only as separate works; the three that are included in this quintet are linked above in the list of movements.

        Considering that this is my personal vision of what music intended for mass consumption would be in a more ideal world, I’ve allowed the influence of some popular idioms in the first and last movements. However, as all of my music, this is strictly in the classical tradition, with no improvisation, and to be treated in the same way as other “serious” art music—even, and perhaps especially, when it’s intended to be for fun.