Symphony No 17 1st movement - Hope

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Symphony No 17 1st movement - Hope

This is a very personal symphony. My wife, Jean, had recently been diagnosed as having Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Motor Neurone Disease). This is a fatal condition with no cure that gradually wastes all the voluntary muscles in the body until finally it affects the breathing and the sufferer dies usually within a couple of years.

I haven’t dedicated a piece to her since before we were married, so I am writing this symphony in the hope that it will give her the courage to face the uncertainty of the future. Not all those with the disease progress at the same rate and a very few go on living for a long time. Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge Professor of Physics, has had it for over 35 years.

This first movement, entitled Hope, quotes from the three most important pieces I wrote for Jean before we were married, namely my two violin sonatas (she has been a professional violinist all her working life), and the organ piece entitled Serenade which I wrote for our wedding in August 1965.

Score ID
Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
11 minutes
Modern classical music

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