The First State

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The First State


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Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
12 minutes
Modern classical music
License details
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This three movement composition is a musical portrait of Delaware up until its being the first state to ratify the constitution. It was composed for the University of Delaware Wind Ensemble, Dr. Robert J. Steckfuss, conductor as a result of a commission from the Xi Mu Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. The work is in three movements:

I. Stewards of the Land - This movement is a tribute to the Lenni Lenape Indians. It uses a melody from a Lenape Indian song that is first stated in the English Horn. This melody is then developed through adding counterpoint, harmony, orchestration, motivic variation, rhythmic and tempo changes, and the addition of original material.

II. Settlement and Conflict - This movement reflects the European settlement of Delaware and the conflict with the indians. It begins with slow section representing serenity. A faster section using a melody from a Dutch "dans" represents the first European settlement in Delaware. A minor version of the "dans" combined with fragments of the Lenape Indian song from the first movement represents the conflict. This is followed by a return to the serenity section. A final fast section introduces a setting of the Swedish melody from "Amerikabrev", representing the first permanent settlement in Delaware by Sweden. The movement ends with a section of "Rule Britannia" representing the colony falling under British rule.

III. Forging A Nation - This movement portrays events leading towards being the first state to ratify the constitution. The movement begins with a section reflecting the anxious times of declaring independence, fighting for freedom, and forging a new government. The second section builds in confidence. After a slower section of reflection, the movement ends triumphantly in celebration of a new country.

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