Tempus fugit – Sym. No. 12
When young, time seems to go so slowly; we are five, five-and-a-half, five-and-three-quarters, and finally six years old. As we age, time goes faster and faster, and how did it become December when it was just January? Symphony No. 12 – Tempus fugit or Time Flies is looking back on our years, and the fun and excitement we had as children. Although the seasons seem out of order, it is the order I remember as being most important to me. I loved the season and the joy each would bring.
I. Fall-Frolic is the euphoric moment when we return to school with a new backpack, pencils, books, while scuffling through the leaves. In the first section of the movement, a rhythmic motive begins with a single instrument and is soon joined by all the instruments relishing the fun of the rhythms. The second section again starts with the motive and soon morphs into a five-voice fugue starting with bassoon and cello. After the full fugal statement, a lyrical, new melody is heard in flute and violins soaring above the rhythmic motives, and more instruments join the lyrical melody. The rhythmic motive returns and again evolves into a five-voice fugue, adding the lyrical melody, and then concludes with the full orchestra emphatically stating the rhythmic motive.
II. Spring-Scherzo – When the weather is unpredictable, from gentle rains to frightening storms. The second movement begins with thunderclaps, along with turbulence in the brass section as winter does not want to relinquish its domain. The softness of spring arrives with the tolling of pizzicato strings and glockenspiel. Ostinato motives enter, then the melody enters with the trumpet, imitated by the horn. The melody and motives are tossed among the instruments until a crescendo grows to mighty thunderclaps. A rollicking gigue, representing Spring, follows in fugal form. The whole orchestra is engaged in fugal interplay, leading to another booming thunderclap. A remnant of the gigue melody is heard now slower and sad. The Spring melody is irrepressible and leads to the final thunderclap – the Spring melody is triumphant. A final and unexpected thunderclap brings the movement to a close.
III. Summer-Shimmer – When life is in the slow lane, and expectations are few.
The first section of Summer-Shimmer has a lazy and whimsical melody, often with startling jumps in the woodwinds pitted against blocks of chords in the strings that slowly change harmonies until the tuba, trombone and double bass signal a middle imitative section joined by many instruments. Loud, punctuating chords begin the final section, starting with 10/8 meter often shifting to 9/8, 12/8, 6/8, and even 13/8. Along with the new rhythmic motives, the opening lazy melody returns, combining with the new melody until a crescendo to ff slowly diminishes to mp before rapidly growing to an abrupt sffz.
IV. Winter-Whimsey – A loose rondo form ABACA with contrasting atmospheres of foreboding and playfulness from orchestral arpeggios depicting sleet to the softness and gentleness of a snowfall.
A. Begins with orchestral arpeggios each progressively faster, leading to two measures of ff before fading to f, preparing for the main melody with flute and oboe. Violins I and II are always in imitation while the cello and double bass have ostinatos.
B. The brass enters, leading to an intensive climax followed by a lyrical melody in a new key with different ostinatos.
A. Returns, stronger with more woodwind instruments adding depth to the melody. Drama and lyricism alternate.
C. A rough-and-tumble fugal jig begins in the lower instruments – trombone, cello, and bassoon – followed by woodwinds and upper strings. The next section combines the jig melody with ostinatos from B.
A. The jig ends abruptly and then begins orchestral arpeggios as in the beginning. The melody from B. returns with different ostinatos in the lower strings, followed by the melody and ostinatos of A. although with different instruments. The fugal jig interrupts the flow of the melody leading to a conclusion of jig and ostinato, this time with violin and xylophone, all with grand gestures.