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Composers Datebook: Andrew Boyson

May 9, 2011

Below is the text and the audio link for Composers Datebook from Sunday, May 8. Andrew Boysen Jr.'s Symphony No. 1, a piece for winds, was the featured composition.

 

Composers Datebook Audio-5/8/2011

 

On today's date in 1998, a new symphony for winds and percussion had its premiere performance at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. It was the first symphony -- and first major commission -- for American composer, Andrew Boysen, Jr., who was 30 years old at the time.

 

"The piece was actually originally commissioned by my teacher at Northwestern, John P. Paynter," Boysen recalls. "Mr. Paynter was a very influential person for thousands of students who went through N.U., and he was also one of the most important figures in the development of wind literature in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century. It was a huge honor for me to be asked to write something for him. It was also exciting because he told me to write whatever I wanted and it was my first commission from a real top-flight ensemble. That was what prompted me to try my hand at a larger scale work.

 

"Unfortunately, Mr. Paynter died before I completed the piece. I stopped working on it because I wasn't sure what was going to happen. Eventually, his wife Marietta stepped in and made the commission happen. The premiere was conducted by Stephen Peterson, my other mentor at Northwestern."

 

Boysen's symphony is in three movements, fast-slow-fast, each movement traditional in structure, but with a hint of Indonesian gamelan music in the symphony's middle movement.

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