Symphony No. 3

for Vocal Solo Quartet, Chamber and Large Choruses and Large Orchestra

George Rochberg

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Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
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Quick Overview

The texts are derived from several sources. Although I call this work a ?Symphony,? I think of it as a ?passion according to the 20th Century.? It is, in fact, an offshoot of a larger idea which I had conceived in 1959 ? only a few parts of which have been brought to completion to date, the Third Symphony among them. The texts ? each of which has its associated ?music? drawn from a specific work of another composer ? bear their load of awesome religious-theological meaning and unify themselves around my idea of 20th century man?s ?passion?: the terrible drama of his struggle with his own nature.

One essential line of text dominates the entire work: ?Was verfolgst du mich?? (Why do you persecute me?). These are the words which Jesus spoke to Saul of Tarsus, who, while on the road to Damascus, saw in a vision the man whose doctrines and followers he held as anathema. After his vision, Saul became Paul and travelled the length and breadth of the known civilized world to spread and establish the belief in the divinity of the man he had formerly despised.

The phrase ?Why do you persecute me?? has another profound association for me. In it I hear echoed the words of David, feared and hunted down relentlessly by that other Saul, the first King of Israel anointed by the Prophet Samuel: ?Wherefore doth my Lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in my hands??

A second line dominates my work and associates itself directly with the phrase ?Was verfolgst du mich??: ?Durch Adams Fall ist ganz Verderbt? (Through Adam?s Fall all is lost). These words from the Lutheran chorale repertory call to mind the whole range of theological and philosophical speculations whose story form was given us in Genesis: the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Whether historical reality or myth, man?s greatest metaphysical hunger and nostalgia centers around the idea of a ?paradise lost,? a time of innocence, a golden epoch when he lived at peace with himself and the other creatures of this world.

It was inevitable that the texts I have used be conveyed through the ?musics? in which they received their greatest projections. Since I do not wish to enter into polemics, aesthetics or theory here, I will simply by-pass the questions of why I feel it impossible to use other composers? music or how I make use of such music. Suffice it to say I have little faith in explanations per se of music, and certainly none in the kind, when speaking of the species of work that this is, which resort to journalistic clich

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Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the Juilliard School.
Composition Date 1966-1969
Duration 00:50:00
Orchestration 6 5 5 6 - 6 8 8 1; Timp. Perc. 2Org.(Pipe, Lg.Elec.) Pno. Cel. Str.
Premiere Juilliard Orchestra and Chorus, Collegiate Chorale, Abraham Kaplan, conductor, November 24, 1970

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