Little Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8

ENS.2022.2 | 15′
Classical Orchestra:
No. 7:

Little Symphony No. 7: Score

Little Symphony No. 8: Score

Little Symphony No. 7

I. Exordium

II. Toccata

III. Commedia

IV. Peroration

Little Symphony No. 8

I. Soaring

II. Spiraling

III. Seascape

IV. Sinking

Little Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8

My fourth pair of miniature symphonies for classical orchestra begins with Little Symphony No. 7, a richly Romantic work inspired by such occasionally overripe late-nineteenth century symphonists as Bruckner and Brahms. As an Exordium, the symphony opens with quiet rustling strings, winds calling to one another across great distances, before exploding into ardor. This is followed by a Toccata, a vaguely minimal scherzo shifting between groups of two and three, interrupted by clattering col legno clocks. Instead of a slow movement—this symphony has no real slow movement, although the harmonies often move only with reluctance—we next find a Commedia, wooden puppets awkwardly dancing. Little Symphony No. 7 concludes with a Peroration, the heraldry of blazing brass increasingly insistent across bountiful fields of luxuriant strings and woodwinds.


This pair of miniature symphonies concludes with Little Symphony No. 8, paying homage to two composers who have enormously influenced my music—John Williams and Gerald Barry. Though superficially quite different, both reliably conjure rich, masterful orchestral tapestries (albeit one a bit more eccentrically extreme than the other). This work develops two principle musical ideas across four brief, closely related movements, the first referencing Williams’s famous score for E.T. and the second Barry’s marvelous opera The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. The first movement begins in medias res, Soaring cinematically through the air before crashing into a sudden explosive coda. Its remnants are caught in the wind’s wild ebb and flow, Spiraling out of control. These shards gradually alight on a glittering Seascape, sunlight glinting off a rhythmic tessellation of waves, until what’s left is seen Sinking into gloomy depths, passing shipwrecks and whale fall as the symphony subsides slowly at last into the abyss.