A Chaplin Symphony
A Chaplin Symphony
Chamber Orchestra (2018)
Premiere: 20 July 2018 / Dunlop Pavilion / Wintergreen Music Festival Orchestra / Erin Freeman
Instrumentation: (I=picc).1(II=corA).11(=bcl).1-0.0.0.0-perc(1)-2vln.vla.vlc.cb or standard symphony orchestra
Dedication: to Erin Freeman
This is a rental work only. Rental and Licensing is handled through Burning Sled Music.
A Chaplin Symphony draws to a close my three-part exploration and celebration of the work of Charlie Chaplin, American film-maker and actor. Part One consisted of my second piano concerto, which underscored and counterpointed Chaplin’s film, The Tramp. The second was Chaplin Suite, which was both a score to Chaplin’s delightful film A Dog’s Life and a concert suite. The final score of the trilogy is A Chaplin Symphony, which serves as both a companion in live performance to Chaplin’s City Lights and as a concert symphony. Taken together, the three works are designed to be a complete evening at the symphony … or the movies: a suite, a concerto, an interval, and a symphony as second half.
I have conceived these three works as able to stand alone in concert without the films being shown. A collaborative pianist is an equal partner to her singer. Likewise, there’s no reason that music and image cannot intimately fuel one another (my opera Orson Rehearsed consists of a score that interlocks with three simultaneously-shown ninety minute films, for example) without either being of secondary importance. The traditional narratives of Chaplin’s films themselves are widely known and, in the event, not needful of recapitulation here. The concert works have their own narratives that in their way comment upon the films’ through-stories and are tethered to them in various ways—whether by overt commentary, or by mindful disconnection. Chaplin was himself a composer of great gifts; his own scores for his films are available and still licensed by the Chaplin Estate for live performance. The films are in the public domain in the United States and may be shown Stateside with my scores. In any event, my music is intended to stand alone without Chaplin’s films, just as Chaplin’s films stand alone from his own scores.
A Chaplin Symphony exists in three movements, and consists of several themes and motives developed and intertwined in the fashion beloved of every working opera composer—there’s a tender pavane for the Flower Girl, of course; a bittersweet shuffle for the Tramp, a sexy, dissolute tango for the Plutocrat, and so forth. But the interplay of musical ideas is more akin to the way Strauss manipulated the ideas in the Symphonia Domestica. As Strauss wove in themes from his earlier works to provide context, autobiographical clues, and narrative depth, I wove together the strands of themes from the previous two Chaplin scores, as well as other themes from my oeuvre.