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Symphony No.1 : for string orchestra

by Matthew Dewey (2008)

Also known as: Port Arthur 1996

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Russian Philharmonic Orchestra from the CD Selected works by AMC represented artists

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Selected works by AMC represented artists


This item is not commercially available from the Australian Music Centre. We regret that we cannot offer it for sale.


Selected works by AMC represented artists : vol. 3.

Library shelf no. CD 2130 [Available for loan]

Symphony No.1


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Symphony No.1 : for string orchestra / Matthew Dewey

Library shelf no. 784.7/DEW 1 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

The impetus for writing this piece came from a play by Tasmanian writer Tom Holloway called "Beyond the Neck", which premiered in 2007, and on which I was called in at the last minute to work on. The play explored the lives of four characters who had all been affected in profoundly different ways by the Port Arthur massacre of 1996. Although I was initially furious that anyone would dare to discuss the tragedy in such an open way, it quickly occurred to me that Tom's play was actually the first public discussion of the massacre, a matured view delivered with the benefit of time and reflection - upon what is still present in the minds of many Tasmanians, and will likely never be resolved.

In his review of Tom's play, Robert Jarman described it as "a meditation on our common grief and isolation" - and it is this feeling that I used for the greater structure and tone of the piece: The first movement, which desperately seeks responses to questions which can't be answered; the second, a "planh" or lament on the death of a friend; and the third, a more optimistic exploration of feelings and emotions complex and irresolvable. The piece is framed by a short musical phrase that symbolises the ultimately unanswerable question of "why?". The phrase appears only twice during the work - at the very opening of the first movement, and towards the conclusion of the third.

Work Details

Year: 2008

Instrumentation: String orchestra.

Duration: 25 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: Dedicated to Hobart Chamber Orchestra, Damien Holloway

Commission note: Commissioned by Damien Holloway for performance by Hobart Chamber Orchestra.

First performance: by Hobart Chamber Orchestra, Edwin Palin — 17 May 08. Hobart Town Hall

The composer cites as influences on the work: Neo-romantic, Shostakovich, Mahler.


Performances of this work

17 May 08: Hobart Town Hall. Featuring Hobart Chamber Orchestra, Edwin Palin.

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