Symphony No. 4, "American Visionary"

for Large Wind Ensemble

Dan Welcher

Performing Ensemble: Wind Ensemble
Publisher: Elkan-Vogel, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

My Symphony No. 4 was commissioned by the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas, Robert Freeman, Dean. The idea of a new work commemorating the life and work of the late George Kozmetsky, an important entrepreneur and businessman in Texas who had founded the School of Business at UT, was Dr. Freeman's. It was decided that the new work would be premiered with spoken narration about Dr. Kozmetsky as an introduction to each of the three movements. Robert Kyn fashioned a narrative that introduced Kozmetsky by way of his work, his family, and his dedication to the community - and it was my idea to turn this into a three-movement symphony, with each movement devoted to a different aspect of Kozmetsky's life. The three movements, then, are given titles that fit the music to follow.

This movement, in strict twelve-tone language, and with an unstoppable, quirky six-bar ostinato in short eighth notes, is more descriptive of older machines than the computerized ones Dr. Kozmetsky worked with in his later life. But a machine is a machine, and this six-minute movement is both serious and whimsical at the same time. Little outbursts of energy and sudden changes of pulse seem to appear from nowhere, but in fact each is completely controlled and preordained. The percussion section has a few peculiar instruments onboard to add to the unpredictable nature of this music; instruments like ceramic mugs, sticks, and brake drums.

The second movement is a warmhearted, lyrical song in expanded ABCA form. Using the same twelve-tone pitch set as the first movement, it manages nonetheless to sound earthy, redolent of home and hearth. There is a waltz-like middle section, which grows and then bursts its bounds to restate the opening theme in a broad, full voice. At the end, a chorale appears in muted brass and woodwinds.

The finale begins with a re-statement of the chorale that ended the second movement, this time in unmuted full brass. At the end of the chorale, a little motor is turned on, and it begins to chug. As the chugging gains strength and speed, a joyous melody emerges (again, drawn form the series of the first movement, but this time accompanied in tonal harmony). Outgoing and effusive, this music is a combination of machine-driven rhythm with heartfelt song - the essence of George Kozmetsky's life and work. It is cast in a three-part form, and at the end of the movement, the opening chorale appears in the brass, within a texture of onrushing fast music in the woodwinds. The Symphony ends in an outpouring of exuberance, in C Major.

Available on Rental

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the College of Fine Arts, University of Texas.
Composition Date 2005
Duration 20:00
Orchestration 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 7(1B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) Sop.Sax. A.Sax. Ten.Sax. Bar.Sax. - 4 4 3(B.Tbn.) 1 Euph.; Timp. 5Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Hp. Cb.


I. Machines
II. Family
III. Community

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