Retourner Symphonie, Symphony No. 11
I. Return, Debate
II. Our Sweet and Carefree Youth
II. The Art of Tarot
Retourner Symphonie is Harbach’s eleventh symphony.
I. Return-Debate, the first movement, is loosely based on a scene from Willa Cather’s 1913 novel, O Pioneers! takes place in Nebraska in the early twentieth century. Emil Bergson has just returned home to Nebraska from Mexico and with much eagerness goes to an orchard where he plans to meet his childhood sweetheart, who awaits him. She is now Marie Shabata, married to an ill-tempered man. The movement is a compilation of themes and motives, and they are always changing and morphing into new versions of themselves – all related but different. As conversations between lovers often unfold, they may be seductive, or a debate, strident, or joyous with anticipation and reconciliation.
II. Our Sweet and Carefree Youth, the second movement of Retourner Symphonie is also inspired from a scene from Cather’s O Pioneers! It is a moment when the soon-to-be lovers, Alexandra Bergstrum and Carl Linstrum, look back on their youth, and remember the tender scenes of their childhood. To set the stage, Alexandra Bergstrum, who runs a successful farm in spite of her brothers, is in her office, working with her ledgers and a Burroughs adding machine. The opening theme represents her adding machine in its methodical and steady beat begun with the trumpet and upper woodwinds.
III. The Art of Tarot, the third movement in D major, takes place at the fair in a nearby French church. Marie is the Queen of Hearts who will all your fortunes tell.