Blogs by Michael A. Guy
Symphony ONE is Done!
4/19/2013 3:40:13 PM
No! This is not my first symphony, nor is it Symphony No. 1.Its title is ‘Symphony ONE’ – but it should’ve been called Symphony ‘En Saga’ for its Sibelius influence (his work was a help in orchestration) and for the17-year legacy of struggle it took to reach its final form and orchestration.From those beginning lessons in orchestration in the early 90’s it has been my laboratory for orchestration and I’ve kept the FAITH through almost 3 prototypes of this work since 1995.
Yet I have really enjoyed all these years working in it while studying more methodical texts on orchestration like Kent Kennan’s and Walter Piston’s. Along with all the score-reading and exercises we all must do to write serious music for modern orchestras I have become a non-reversible student of the Masters’ scores and listening to anywhere from 1-3 symphonies a day. I hope to keep it up until ‘death do us part….’ I enjoy the work (so far completely unpaid!) but I sure don’t want it to go unpublished to the world!
The 3 early versions are behind me but I still love the digital recording (yes with my own 10 digits not computers!) I made of its early chamber form around 1996, when I also recorded (in digital only) a‘second symphony’. I recently ripped mp3s of this early recorded version and may even score and publish it as a separate suite in the future…
Meanwhile, the search begins more in earnest for that special conductor/mentor who can bring my orchestra music like ‘FIRE ISLAND IMPRESSIONS’ and this Symphony to the world of serious music listeners. With all the pain I have been through since ’95 or so and the changes to my family and career conditions (and changes to Life! i.e. – that journey from New York City’s career to kidney dialysis in Florida and then finally a transplant in1991 – never to quite return to a previous work life!) – well that belongs in the ‘Bio’ –
I feel as though I have ‘crucified myself for this work but with joy. Despite my lack of professional credentials and reputation in this area of music, I know it’s an immense success and achievement. My orchestration grasp and style has truly matured during the tenure of working on Symphony ONE,since the early attempts of the late 80’s and 90’s where clumsy,over-orchestrated sections are the norm of most inexperienced young arrangers. The scope and flow of the music and interactions between the orchestra sections has really brought this very tonal, memorable theme-based music into high relief and to life. Since I published it myself, I had to edit and re-edit the 5movements many times (in fact, I lost count how many!) This has been for the best and brought clearer conceptions of details to the very melody-based work it is. The Final ‘ADAGIO-ANDANTE which is now movement 5 grew to such climactic proportions that it became a true Finale and had to be moved from its place as the second movement to last. I now know that’s the right choice. How long is the work as a whole? Well, it is ‘Mahler-sized’ – not sure the total length but I did indicate on the score the approx. time of each movement. It is between 60– 70’ as a full 5 movement work but offers the options of only using some ofthe movements and sections to make it shorter. The final movement is the most progressive and dramatic.
This almost 201 page, 8.5 x 11 inch scorebook I have published under AllegroVivo domain (JzCDz.com) looks as good as any study/conductor score I’ve seen. IF you are a music professional and /or conductor you can hear an estimation of these scored movements by contacting me directly. I’ve made mp3’s of each movement from the computer notation files.Though not as true a realization as human players can give, it serves to give a good sense of this great AMERICAN MUSIC.
It was a good sign that I had finished the final edit of ONE on this past Washington’s Birthday (his real one on Feb. 22nd). Oh,and George and Charlie Ives would’ve been proud of me. 2 disasters of the domestic sort forestalled my efforts until just recently after Easter. They came back to back here in the Florida outback where I’ve been ensconced like a Shipwrecked exile since 2007 (geez, longer than Napoleon even! And he tried to conquer the world; I only wanted to finish a symphony!) It was in early 2007 I sold my mother’s house in Daytona Beach after her death in 2005 and was forced to live someplace cheaper. Well, know I know why real-estate is so cheap here!Hey, I miss the beach and civilization at times, but I knew nothing of the true value of houses up here. NOW I do! I should’ve paid $30K less; another victim of crafty real estate agents, that know what you don’t know!
It has been though, a good quiet place to compose, play and record my piano music and study orchestration, but it is a little too much isolation and it’s starting to get to me. The adversities that do come can take on magnified proportions (yea, that’s how this place got its nickname: “LakeStinkhole!”;) In the last week of February, just after finishing the edit of ONE, my septic system glorified this moniker with an overflow. It was permanently clogged with roots. Lots of trees here but nobody ever did anything before about it. 3rd time it had to be pumped out and what a stress and mess! This time it was only going to fail again in 6 months. Hey, that’s $250per failure. I can’t live like this, so luckily my fishing buddy visiting from Indiana next door for his yearly piscatorial sabbatical works in construction.He taught me in a crash course everything you didn’t want to know before about“stink-holes” – and even convinced me, after many negative protestations on my part, the inevitability of “fixing it yourself” (I mean since I don’t have$3000 to hire a septic service!) It seemed impossible to my non-handy-man mind but he was positive the drain field was screwed and that in just a few days anew one could be dug. So out with the shovel – my hole, my poop, I get to dig.Of course, I was glad for his help. I never knew that septic holes were so complicated. Who ever heard of a “distribution box”? That sounds electrical –well it applies to getting your wastes “outflowed” to the right place. Turns out, that thing was packed with sludge and had been for years. And down the middle of it was growing this big root. Only choice , take it apart, clean it and then dig a trench 10’ long and put in a new drain field PVC pipe with holes to drain. I couldn’t afford a “back-hoe” so it was hand-digging like I’ve never done before! S3000 dollars I don’t have – When all was done, we succeeded in making a new drain field for about $50 (!) – wow, talk about the profit those companies must make. The $50 was mostly for the landscape stones to line the trench with, and then a little money for the PVC fittings and pipe.
Now, IF only I can find someone in music who is just as positive, re-assuring and believes in what I’m trying to do here, as I have found for a fishing buddy-neighbor here at “LAKE STINKHOLE” – NO! It is not the lake that stinks!
I’ve tried to follow good old Dvorak’s advice to American composers given way back in the 1890s when he visited here. He felt Americans had been too long close-minded to the wealth of indigenous, folkloric music that they had in their own country (such as Native American songs &dances). Like Ives, he felt that we are too narrow in our outlook and always deferring to European models in composition. I confer, even more so by the performers recording in the world today. How often have you seen a concert program made up of even ¼ American composers’ music? Not to mention featuring truly new, unknown composers, especially if they are not being pushed by some academic organization.
Money being tight for me in my isolated lifestyle, I won’t be spending $60 to hear more rehash performances of only Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, two composers who I dearly love but nothing new under the sun here. I’m at least 50% Slavic (the other 50% is Celtic) and I grew up on this music, but we don’t know ourselves well enough as a culture, let alone do we today know our true history. In my SYMPHONY ONE I chose to be influenced by several years in the 80’s of studying and playing Native American songs. I’m not N.A. but I’ve always been drawn things ‘Indian’.
I haven’t been to a concert since 2003 (in Daytona Beach)but often if we get anyone new, ‘they’ must be approved by an academic establishment or have considerable ‘media buzz. What’s the likelihood of getting media attention if never given a start – 0% is the odds. Besides, how many of the Great Music Masters were thoroughly academic? A few like Mendelssohn and Debussy but just as surely Brahms, Dvorak were not, and even Beethoven was not rubber-stamped by the establishment in the beginning. The public didn’t parade him through the streets until he was in his coffin!
Back to that second domestic disaster I had mentioned earlier. And it hit me very hard just after the ‘septic nightmare’ (in fact the day after) on the first weekend of March. My 17-year old companion pet (my cat Newton) was very sick and it finally forced me to face up to having to ‘put-him-down’on the following Monday, March 4th.
Yes, 17 years is a long life for a cat; I knew he had been slowing down all winter. But somehow I blocked out the reality of it until his suffering was probably overwhelming. Even with all my personal experience with kidney failure and having been on kidney dialysis for years, as well as getting that transplant in 1990, I didn’t see his kidney failure coming. It’s true what they say of pets, that they can mask their suffering more than people do. We complain at the least discomfort, pets can’t. I felt worse because we loved each other so much and since 2008 I have lived with this cat alone, no one else. On Saturday I took him to the Vet for blood tests and she said his values were ‘off the chart’! She hadn’t seen anything like it for some time. I couldn’t seem to let go, so I asked to give him medication for nausea and I took him home, saying I would bring him back on Monday. I shouldn’t have done it I know,but I couldn’t let go. I was hoping he would die on my lap in his sleep that night or Sunday. Well, nobody in my family has ever gone quickly or easily (my mother died of the same Renal Failure in 2005!) and Newton was no exception.Life Force is strong when people are well-loved and cared for. Sadly, I must have put him through yet another night and day of suffering, but we had a longtime on Sunday to “talk” and say goodbye. And this cat, while I was stroking him, probably heard some of the greatest, heartfelt poetry ever spoken to a cat. All of March I was in a sorrow-filled haze and now that it is April I’m beginning to come out of it and look ahead. I know that happily he is finally free of suffering in the body; Newton is still “MY CAT” as I always called him,but he’s an ‘Astral Cat’ at that!
Thank God (and myself) for making the effort to finish all the editing, orchestrating and composing on Symphony ONE before my little cat let this world. IF it had been anywhere near unfinished, I may never had the strength to finish it, but after 17 years (oh yes, Newton came into my life just when the first manuscript copy of the Symphony was being orchestrated in 1996) My beloved cat came into my life when Symphony One was in its own infancy and he left it just as it was finally done! I wonder about that…. It seems the “MasterPlanner” had a plan for me and us. I know that Symphony ONE is really a product my mature youth (not childhood) but those wonderful years in my late 30’s to 40’sat Daytona Beach. The best years of my life, while the aging parents still seemed so young and fit that I thought they would live forever. The years thatI so enjoyed the ocean world of surfing and fishing. And frankly the only years in which that ‘spring-like’ upbeat theme of the Allegro vivo could’ve been written.
Yes, Symphony ONE was a product of my youth; that glorious 2ndchildhood! I’m glad I persisted and the planned seconded edition is only a routine correction, addition of some missing parts and completion of the transcription of the IVth movement that I left undone in notation but exists in the recording I had done in 1996.
More details on the particulars of my Symphony ONE in further blogs and by clicking on my website at: JzCDz.com or on this link to my score StoreFront: Michael Guy's Scores: orchestra, piano, chamber
Sincerely, Michael Guy L’Ecluse
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