"Rage, rage..." for orchestra, by David Dzubay
Duration: 15 minutes
During my high school years in Portland, Oregon, I was fortunate to know three exceptional human beings, all of whom taught music at Jefferson High School, and all of whom died at young ages: Sonny King (jazz saxophone), Dee Wiggins (percussion), and Richard Thornburg (trumpet). Not only were these men superb musicians and teachers - they were absolutely three of the most gentle, unselfish, and kind people I have known. This music has been composed in memory of these three good friends.
Rage, rage..., features the percussion section much of the time, often with them playing versions of a rhythm resulting from the declaration: "Sonny King, Dee Wiggins, Richard Thornburg"
This thematic rhythm pervades the entire work. The rather angry character of the music hardly reflects that of Dee Wiggins, but the aggressive drumming, often in streams of sixteenth notes, is perhaps reflective of Dee's playing in his funk band, Velvet, which I played trumpet in for one year. The composition is framed by two presentations of a sustained, tutti, contrapuntal section, the first of which is a rather frantic, shocked reaction to hearing of a death, and the last being a final anguished cry of grief. Once the music calms down a bit, after about three minutes, the first trumpet presents three increasingly demanding statements (not unrelated to Ives' famous question), as if to ask "why?!" This second quarter of the work reflects a mix of emotions and has a number of changes in tempo and orchestration. The tempo doubles around the midpoint, and after a brief period of calm, the work builds to explosions of rage leading to the final cry.
The title is from Do not go gentle into that good night, by Dylan Thomas. (David Dzubay)
Symphony No. 1 was commissioned for James DePreist and the Oregon Symphony on the occasion of its Centennial, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Oakland East Bay Symphony, and was made possible by a grant from the Meet The Composer/Reader's Digest Commissioning Program, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund.
The cover art is by Melissa Thornburg, who kindly gave permission to reproduce this excerpt from her "Watercolor Memorial" to Richard.
I Rage, rage...