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Stephen Brown: Compositions

Symphony No. 6

"13 Postcards"

audio and score
13 Postcards

13 Postcards is a one movement symphony in 13 sections. Some of the Postcards have more than one image creating subsections. The symphony begins in C major with the tonal centre (major, or minor, or other) moving upwards in whole tones - C, D, E, F#, G#, A# (Bb) - and then a semitone to B. Each new tonal centre is a new Postcard. From B the tonal centre moves downwards by whole tones - A, G, F, Eb, Db - to C. The downwards Postcards are reflections and refractions of the upwards ones in a new key.

Parody technique (see below), as used by J. S. Bach in the B minor Mass, forms the compositional basis of 13 Postcards. Music was drawn from previous symphonies, concertos, The Adventures of Sally and Her Motorcycle, and other sources, and then tailored to fit the new situation. New music was composed when required.

Traditional symphonies develop their material organically and blend their sections so the seams don’t show. In 13 Postcards the organic development is eschewed though the reflections and refractions do present the music in a different light. And the seams definitely show. The Postcards are isolated so the listener is well aware that they are listening to a new section.

Parody 1.a. A literary or artistic work that uses imitation, as of the characteristic style of an author or a work, for comic effect or ridicule. 1.b. A genre, as in literature, comprising such works.

2. Something so bad as to be equivalent to intentional mockery; a travesty: The trial was a parody of justice.

3. Music. The practice of reworking an already established composition, especially the incorporation into the Mass of material borrowed from other works, such as motets or madrigals.


3 Flutes (Fl 3 dbl Piccolo)
3 Oboes (Ob 3 dbl English horn)
3 Clarinets in Bb & A (Cl 3 dbl Bass clarinet)
3 Bassoons
4 Horns in F
3 Trumpets in Bb
2 Trombones
Bass trombones
Timpani (4)
Percussion - 5 players (many intruments including Xylophone)
2 Harps
Violin I, Violin II, Viola
Violoncelli, Double bass

Duration 22:00

Swan House Victoria SJB 1392
Score and a single set of parts: $100.00
Additional strings: $4.00 each