Jay Schwartz: Delta – Music for Orchestra IV

  • for orchestra
  • 4 4 4 4 - 6 4 4 1 - perc(3), vln.I, vln.II, vla, vc, cb(5-stringed)
  • Duration: 25’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute (+picc)
    2nd flute (+picc)
    3rd flute (+picc)
    4th flute (+picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    3rd oboe (+c.a)
    4th oboe (+c.a)
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    3rd clarinet in Bb (+bass cl)
    4th clarinet in Bb (+bass cl)
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    3rd bassoon (+cbsn)
    4th bassoon (+cbsn)
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    5th horn in F
    6th horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    3rd trumpet in C
    4th trumpet in C
    1st trombone (+t-b.tbn)
    2nd trombone (+t-b.tbn)
    3rd trombone (+t-b.tbn)
    4th trombone (+bass tbn
    1st percussion
    2nd percussion
    3rd percussion
    violin I
    violin II
    Double bass (5-stringed)
  • Composer: Jay Schwartz
  • Commission: Kompositionsauftrag des Südwestrundfunks

Work introduction

If music be composed of sound and time, it seems to me that the shaping of time is the greatest challenge facing a composer. Chronological motivation is, in my ears, the axiom of musical composition.

The fundamentals of western music, from its earliest stages to the present, are unquestionably motivated by a kind of magnetic field exuded by intervals, predominantly the unison, thus binding the vertical level (harmony) with the horizontal (time). It is the anticipation of intervals that creates tension in music and keeps the listener in a state of awaiting the release of this tension.

In my work I attempt to create a kind of harmonic magnetism by using sliding tones, called “glissandi”, where the pitch is ever changing, not by steps, but by gliding through the intervals. My compositions use these sliding tones to create structures, „drawing“ geometrical systems of lines and curves which are slowly channeled into various intervallic relationships, creating a system of tension and release.

Delta ? is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet, and corresponds to the Latin letter “D”, as well as representing the number four. In science and mathematics the symbol delta ? is used to represent change or catalysation, standing for “diaphorá” in Greek, meaning difference, change or catharsis.

Delta – Music for Orchestra IV uses the actual shape of the sign ? as the formal structure of the composition. Slow upwardly gliding lines are positioned over the tone “D” spinning a long web of harmonies and overtones driving towards a “D” unison. The expectations are, however, interrupted by a catharsis.

For me, motivic based European music, from the Middle Ages to the present, is somewhat like a stroll through an English garden, where the senses are constantly being stirred by new and different scents and visual surprises. But in my own musical thought process I wish to create an experience based neither on rich motivic variety, nor on static stand-still, but rather on long slow forward motion. An ever changing dynamic teleological forward drive showing strong underlying intent to reach a goal. Perhaps one could say I am imagining more a flight over a vast landscape of dessert, mountains, and ocean, than an English garden landscape, whereby this metaphor is not intended to be programmatic and should not be understood as a visual basis for understanding the compositions, although one could speculate about the influence such landscapes had on my musical thought during my upbringing in the Southwest of the United States on the Pacific and in the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona.


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Theaterhaus, Stuttgart (DE)
RSO Stuttgart
Johannes Kalitzke

Press reviews

It was as if the inner workings of the music were laid bare, but underpinned by a gripping sense of drama – somehow horrific in its relentlessness, yet fascinating at the same time. Pintscher drove the orchestra onwards with a sure sense of pacing in a work with few clear signposts in its restless textures, and had a keen ear for its microtonal subtleties, building to a shattering, ecstatic climax. Unforgettable. (David Kettle, theartsdesk, 10 January 2015)

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