My first symphony (orchestration: 2/2/2/2 4/3/3/1, timpani, cymbals, bass drum, strings) was originally composed some time in 2006 using a crude method of writing independent melodic lines for each part. Actually I had scarcely any knowledge on orchestration at the time, let alone experience on writing orchestral works. Later I got a bulk of critique from the piano teacher of a friend of mine, which made me determined to substantially revise the work.
After several attempts, I finally set to work of the current version starting in November 2008 with the 3rd and 4th movements, and ending in October 2009 with the 1st movement. The new version looked much more alike to a symphony, in my opinion.
As to what were the influences on this symphony, I would cite a stable and stately life with no worries. Therefore the sound is generally outwardly optimistic and “cozy”, as I would describe. Pentatonicism did creep in with the revisions, but the sound is still largely “western”.
You may find the full score here: http://imslp.org/wiki/Symphony_No.1_%28Mak,_Raphael%29.
The first movement starts with an arpeggio theme in Eb major, which with several elaborations transforms with increasing grandeur in orchestration. After a brief bridge lead by the oboe, the more relaxed second theme appears. It then reappears in a faster tempo which leads to the development. A brief brass fanfare leads to variations on the exposition themes. The recapitulation consists of a slightly cut version of the first theme and the second theme returning in full glory.
The second movement, in the key of F minor, is based on a planned song for children’s choir, the lyrics for which I have never thought about. Thus it is somewhat a “song without words”. This is interrupted by a light and rejoicing interlude, but the music very soon plunges into the melancholy of the main theme again. (I personally consider this movement to be musically weak and thus might revise it in the future.)
The third movement is a scherzo in the key of F major. This is the only movement of which the main theme is largely intact from the first version (although with further extension and elaboration). The scherzo theme is vivid and jubilant. The trio theme, in F minor, contains some melancholy but is still light in character. The reappearance of the scherzo theme comes with more variations on instrumentation. The second appearance of the trio theme is smoother and with added dignity. The scherzo returns once more in its beginning jubilance.
The fourth movement, a rondo, returns to the key of Eb major. The main theme is wild in character. The first episode in C major is noble and relaxed. The reappearance of the main theme leads to a temporary apex, which almost immediately echos out. A flute solo then brings in the second episode in G minor – put simply forward an orchestration of the main theme from the 1st movement of my flute sonata (https://raphaelmak.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/sonata-for-flute-and-piano-op-9/). Finally the main rondo theme brings the symphony to a glorious close.