Symphony for open strings(1978)
Boosey & Hawkes
The open-string orchestra consists of twelve soloists. The ensemble has all the chromatic tones over a range of nearly four octaves at its disposal. But for a melody of four consecutive tones four players are required.
The work was written for a group of string players at the Conservatory, a kind of teaching project for ensemble playing and counting.
As regards the composition technique, I employed symphonic procedures: recurring motives, a developing musical motion, and something like a recapitulation. I had not used techniques like these since the fifties, and they could be my answer to the neo-romantic movement: young composers writing once again for the symphonic orchestra. In this sense the Symphony is ambiguous, using ‘symphonic’ techniques while an open-string orchestra will never sound like a real symphony orchestra.
This work has benefited from that discrepancy – in other words, for a symphony orchestra I would have written a different work.
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer