Broadheath Music

Contemporary Classical Music by Frank Wilhoit

Symphony No. 1 in A, Op. 8 (1979; revised 2018)


This Symphony is an experiment in obliterating the distinction between major and minor. The major third degree is often approached from the augmented second degree, and the minor third from the diminished fourth; and a cadential idiom that is prominent in all four movements combines both of these flavors of appoggiaturas simultaneously.

It is also an experiment in the utmost concision of form -- which experiment was, in the 1979 version, carried to counterproductive extremes. The forms were not merely concise (arguably a good thing), but elliptical (not even arguably a good thing). Their various sections were elided to a degree that obscured their essential responsibilities. At the premiere, the audience was misled, not by the radically compressed timescale per se, but by the ellipticality of the musical arguments, and mistook the end of the whole work for the end of the (rather wayward!) "first movement" of a much larger composition--a catastrophic failure of signposting.

The 2018 revision increased the overall duration of the work from 13 minutes to 19. In each of the first, third, and fourth movements, the music was "opened" at one barline and "missing" music restored, as if to counteract the effect of very large and ill-advised cuts. The orchestra was also increased by the addition of piccolo and tuba.

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