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  • Writer's pictureBret Newton

Symphony 1

The desire to write a symphony has been in me since I first discovered what a symphony was (or at least what I thought it was). I had attempts back in middle school where I would start sketching out a symphony of gigantic proportions only to realize my inexperience would lead to ultimate failure. In fact, I tried this route no less than four or five times during middle school, high school, and as an undergrad. It wasn't until 2006 (either in grad school or fresh out of it) that I finally completed what would become my First Symphony. Far from the grand ideas I started with of symphonies of thousands, my First Symphony only requires seventeen players. However, it is an ensemble of all double reed instruments, which makes it rather unusual in its construct.

In 2005, I was attending the International Double Reed Society Conference in Austin, TX. There, they organized a performance of one of my favorite works of Percy Grainger, his Hill Song No. 1. This work, one of his great masterpieces is almost never performed as it's scored for 2 Piccolos, 6 Oboes, 6 English Horns, 6 Bassoons, and Contrabassoon. A perfect ensemble for a double reed society. Upon hearing this live, I set out to write my own work for a double reed group. My main departure from Grainger, though, was the use of other auxiliary double reeds (and, of course, no Piccolos). At the conference there were Piccolo Oboes, Oboes d'Amore, Bass Oboes, Alto Bassoons, and Tenor Bassoons all begging to be used and written for. And so I did. The result is a challenging twenty-four minute work in one movement (though with multiple sections). It is always possible that at some point I will revisit this work and transcribe it for a more traditional wind band.


F Sopranino Oboe

4 Oboes

Mezzo-Soprano Oboe (Oboe d'Amore)

2 Alto Oboes (English Horn)

Tenor Oboe (Bass Oboe)

Alto Bassoon

Tenor Bassoon

4 Bassoons

2 Contrabassoons

11x17 Score - $45.00

8.5x11 Study Score - $20.00

Set of Parts - $250.00

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