Symphony No. 1

The definition of the symphony has been changed and reinvented over the course of music history. To me, a symphony signifies an exploration of something meaningful to the composer. The job of any composer, I would argue, is to say something, anything, and in this symphony I have attempted to explore myself, my beliefs, and my ideas about importance and meaning. Over the past several years my thoughts about significance, joy, and being have been reconstructed almost entirely anew.Through this symphony I have sought to answer some of these life-shaping questions.This piece has been one of the heaviest and most rewarding pieces I have written.

I. Ozymandias
This movement is inspired by the poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley by the same name. It speaks of the futility of man's strivings. In the end, we cannot bring anything beyond the grave and this movement is an exploration of our feeble attempts to impact this world.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things, The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed. And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

-Percy Bysshe Schelly

II. Birdsongs
Here is a look back on the beauty that I have found in friends, family, and loved ones. I have always found wonder and joy in birds. Many of my good friends I sometimes see as being similar to certain midwestern birds: robins, crows, loons, mourning doves, etc.They are brilliant, beautiful, and make gorgeous songs. For a long time I felt my life had no meaning. I felt like I was worthless, but when I looked at my friends and loved ones, I found true beauty and worth in them. So this is a tribute to them and the beauty they have shown me.

III. Pale Blue Dot
Voyager I was the first spacecraft sent from earth into deep space to explore our solar system.
It is now far past Pluto, but before exiting our solar system it took one last photograph of
earth. In this famous picture earth is less than one pixel large. It appears as a "pale blue dot". A gorgeous, beautiful speck of dust in the vast cosmos. My original intent for this movement was for it to be rather negative and futile, but as I explored I came to a conclusion: even if there is no greater purpose and we are truly just a speck of dust in the cosmos, we are a genuinely beautiful one.The final movement of this symphony explores the smallness of earth but also
the true beauty found in a seemingly insignificant dot in the universe.

-J. M. Gallagher