On today’s date in the year 2000, the Boston Symphony gave the premiere performance of the Second Symphony of the American composer John Corigliano. The symphony, for strings alone, was a reworking of this chamber work, a string quartet that Corigliano had composed for the farewell tour of the Cleveland Quartet in 1996.
The string quartet turned symphony was very well received, and the following year was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music. “I am more than shocked... I don't know what to say,” commented Corigliano upon receiving the news. “It's one of the great surprises of my life.”
Perhaps doubly surprising, since, as a young man, Corigliano had pretty much ruled out writing even one symphony, let alone a second. “My thought then,” says Corigliano, “was that there were so many great symphonies in the repertoire that I could satisfy only my ego by writing yet another. Only the death of countless friends from AIDS prompted me to write my Symphony No. 1. That was about a world-scale tragedy and, I felt, needed a comparably epic form.”
“My second symphony had a different genesis. The Boston Symphony contacted my publisher with a request that I write a second symphony to honor the l00th anniversary of their justly famous Symphony Hall. At first I declined, stating my earlier reservations about writing in this form, but they were quite insistent.”
Music Played in Today's Program
John Corigliano (b. 1938)String QuartetCleveland QuartetTelarc 80415