RTC-53: 1983 Symphony [No. 2] in One Movement (Gift from the Sea)

Commission: WSO? / Canada Council?
Length: 18 min.
Completion: 30 April 1983
Premiere: 1986-12-05, Winnipeg Symphony Orch., Kazuhiro Koizumi (cond.)
Publication: CMC


The Symphony in One Movement, subtitled “Gift from the Sea”, was completed during a 7-month stay on the rugged coast of Maine from November 1982 to May 1983. The bulk of the writing was done from 1 March to 30 April 1983.
Written in Sonata-Rondo form, the music develops two main themes in the Exposition and further varies them in the Recapitulation. Some new ideas in the shape of a Scherzo, Chorale and Fugue make up the middle section. The whole work is framed by a short introduction and coda.
All of the melodic and harmonic material is derived from the perfect and augmented interval of a 4th. The Introduction [m. xx – xx] continues with a rhythmic figure first sounded in the woodwinds at the outset of the Exposition. At m. 56 there is a brief quote from Chausson’s “Poème de l’amour et de la mer”.
Like other “Sea Symphonies” this somewhat stark, sombre work was inspired by the changing moods, sounds and smells and panorama of the Atlantic Coast in early spring. While writing this work, I happened to read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book Gift from the Sea (1955) and the following quote seemed appropriate: “Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh A Gift from the Sea, Chapter I, “The Beach,” 17.)