for Orchestra

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

Performing Ensemble: Orchestra
Duration: 16:00
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

"Symbolon" was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to be premiered on its 1988 tour of the Soviet Union.

The word, "symbolon", comes from the Greek and refers to the ancient custom whereby two parties broke a piece of pottery (or a stone, or a coin) in two, each party retaining half. Each half (or "symbolon") thus became a token of friendship as well as proof of identity of the bearer. The work came to have many other meanings, among them: the identity-token given to Athenian dicasts on entering the courts entitling them to vote; a passport or the seal thereon; a secret code; and in the plural, a treaty between two states. Usually the word, symbolon, describes a relationship between two parties with a particular connotation of goodwill and friendship.

While "Symbolon" is not a programmatic or narrative work, I am certain that it was inspired by its circumstances. From the beginning I knew that the piece would receive its first performance in the Soviet Union, and I found this profoundly moving. I am sure that my complex feelings, embracing both hope and sadness about the state of the political world, have found their way into this work.

"Symbolon" is in one movement and is written for the modern orchestra with its characteristic robust string sound and instrumental virtuosity. It is dedicated to Zubin Mehta.

Scores & Parts

Symbolon - Full Score - Study

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to be premiered on its 1988 tour of the Soviet Union.
Composition Date 1988
Orchestration 3 3 4 3 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str.
Premiere 1st June, 1988. New York Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta conducting, Leningrad (St. Petersburg), USSR (Russia).

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