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Symphony No. 2: From God's Back 40


 for Orchestra

Chamber version, June 22--October 7, 2017; orchestrated July 28--Nov. 1, 2023
Duration: about 28 minutes                cover photo: Country Boy from Jim McGuire's studio, 1997


Full Score, legal-size (pdf)         Cover           

Parts (f&b, letter-size)

Recordings are of the chamber version for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano, performed March 24, 2019, Meredith College,

Raleigh NC. Eric Pritchard, viola; Fred Jacobowitz, clarinet;

Carl Banner, piano

I. Gimme that Old-Time Tetrachord  MP3 recording   Wav file (CD quality)
   Don't Be Shy    [7:40]  
II. Yet Another Waltz     MP3 recording    
Wav file
    Anorexia composa        [6']   

III. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi    MP3 recording    Wav file

    Lento      [5:30]    

IV. The Albuterol Stomp     MP3 recording     Wav file
    Speedy      [5:30]



          In June 2017, clarinetist Fred Jacobowitz and pianist Carl Banner, director of Washington Musica Viva, asked me to write a trio for clarinet, viola, and piano. I had just moved to the little town of Cleveland, North Carolina, in rural western Rowan County, nestled in the bucolic Piedmont about an hour drive from the nearest big cities. I had lived in Raleigh since 2001, and retired in May after seven years teaching physics at NCSU.

          So I settled in with an old friend who had some extra space in his home, where I had time to do what I like and take care of my health. I couldn’t compose during my final months in Raleigh, but the new environment proved fertile for creativity. After two years, in 2019, I moved back to the Raleigh area (Garner) to rent-assisted senior housing; it took a couple of years on the wait list.

          The first movement is based on various tetrachords, which is very common in my music—not from some theoretical plan, but just because that seems to be how things work out and sound right. I have written a piece before titled Diatonic Phrygian Tetrachord, which was more specific about that particular type. There is a somewhat baroque flavor to this section, as I came up with the basic ideas after listening to Bach violin concertos.

          The second movement is yet another waltz, as I have written altogether too many already. I wouldn’t recommend trying to dance to this one.

          The third movement has a touch of country roots music to it; I appreciate old fiddle tunes, and it was well-suited to the rural surroundings.

          The finale is a big fast ending, inspired by my inspiration of albuterol as an inhaled medication for my COPD. One of the main problems of this disease (as well as my arthritis) is extreme fatigue; albuterol is a potent stimulant, as well as helping breathing.

            I wrote three symphonies between 1978 and 1984, but later threw them all away. In 2013, I wrote Birthday Symphony based on Martin Luther King Jr. speeches, but in 2023 I threw that out as well. I have a symphony written for concert band, Popular Music of Planet X, that I will orchestrate as Symphony No. 1. But first, I have orchestrated the clarinet, viola, and piano version of FGB40 for full orchestra as Symphony No. 2. The instrumentation is two flutes (flute 2 doubles piccolo), oboes, clarinets, and bassoons; four horns, two trumpets, two trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, and strings.


Performance notes

          My usual style of piano playing is heavy on the sostenuto pedal; the indicated pedal marks are really required, but please use freely. Notes that do not have dots are not short. Individual movements may be performed by themselves or in any combination.

          It is fine with me if the viola is either amplified or electric, such as an electric 5-string violin.