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The Ripe Breath of Autumn

for solo horn and orchestra

Year:  1985   ·  Duration:  12m
Instrumentation:  2111; 0000; perc; strings | (Perc: tam-tam, bass drum, timpani)

Year:  1985
Duration:  12m
Instrumentation  2111; 0000; perc; strings |...

David Hamilton

Composer:   David Hamilton

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David Hamilton: The Ripe Br...

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Originally sketched in December 1982, this work remained in that incomplete form until early 1985 when I returned to it and decided it would at least make an interesting exercise in orchestration. The work in its final form is for solo horn with small chamber orchestra: wood wind, percussion and strings.

The title, which has no programmatic significance, comes from a line in a poem by American Walt Whitman. The Ripe Breath of Autumn sits rather uneasily in my total output having few stylistic similarities to other works I have written. It is a dark brooking work, and might best be described as a rhapsody.

Musically the two main ideas are the rising semitone motive heard at the opening, and the first five notes of the horn part which recur in various guises throughout. The work possesses a sense of ebb and flow in the orchestral part, interrupted only by a cadenza for the horn player and solo viola. The work finally settles in D as its tonal centre and ends quietly.

Performance history

18 Jul 2010: The Ripe Breath of Autumn

11 Jun 2020: Performed by the Auckland Philharmonia, conductor Vincent Hardaker, with Norberto López García (horn) at the Auckland Town Hall

Performed by John Ure (horn) and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by John Hopkins

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