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Symphony #1 in D major

Symphony #1 in D major JD-153
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James Domine - Symphony #1 in D major - 124 pages

I. Andante mesto; piu Allegro

II. Andante grazioso

III. Menuetto

IV. Finale

Originally composed in 1978, the Symphony #1 in D major is a reasonable facsimile of a classical period piece written in the style of Haydn and his response to a comment by a venerably aged old professor who assertively proclaimed with the majestic academic authority that security of tenure provides that “tonal music is dead.”

     The symphony is cast in the traditional four movement form: I. Andante più Allegro, II. Romance, III. Menuetto, and IV. Finale. In composing the piece, every attempt has been made to avoid any post-classical affectations of harmony that might mar the effect of this very straightforward latter-day model of a classical symphony.

     The first movement consists of an operatic slow introduction marked Andante mesto that leads directly into an Allegro that is set in sonata form. These two contrasting moods set the stage for the drama that is to unfold in the course of the feeling of bold enthusiasm enhanced by martial flourishes with heroic overtones.  The lyrical subordinate theme provides a warm playful gracefulness that contrasts with the energetic nature of the first theme. The interplay and development of these two thematic ideas can be characterized as a musical tapestry that is woventogether of melodic strands blending harmoniously into an animated symphonic whole.  Near the end of the recapitulation, the Andante mesto theme returns before the final coda as a type of ritornello that balances the two moods of the opening movement.

     The second movement, entitled Romance is marked Andante grazioso and is a stately processional that has been employed separately as a bridal march. Echoes of “here comes the bride” can be discerned in the underlying rhythm. The movement is cast in da capo aria form, and the main theme has an expressive quality of gentle melodic simplicity, serene and uncomplicated as it traverses the spectrum of its harmonic sojourn.

     While the third movement harks back to the pre-scherzo days of the Menuetto, it possesses the interesting rhythmic character of a jazz waltz in 9/8 time. This juxtaposition is a perfectly natural extension of poetic, or rather compositional license and does not detract from the purity of the minuet’s formal structure.

     The Finale is a sonata-rondo form in 6/8 time, marked Allegro molto. In this final movement the symphony is brought to a dramatic conclusion reminiscent of the last act of a comic opera in which all the characters are brought on stage for a tumultuous climactic scene. In the coda section the Andante mesto of the first movement introduction is recalled like a memory of an almost forgotten tragic romance, and after a moment of bittersweet reflection, the symphony ends in a celebratory spirit of triumphant exaltation.

     An earlier version of the Symphony in D major was performed at a concert given in 1979 at the Bernardi Community Center with the composer conducting the Van Nuys Civic Orchestra. A revised version was performed in concert on September 26, 2009. The final version, a confluence of these two earlier manifestations, is scored for woodwinds in pairs, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, percussion, and the standard complement of strings.

James Domine - Symphony #1 in D major - 124 pages I. Andante mesto; piu Allegro II. Andante grazioso III. Menuetto IV. Finale Originally composed in 1978, the Symphony #1 in D major is a reasonable facsimile of a classical period piece written i
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