Symphony No. 1 (In Memoriam, Dresden, 1945)

Title: Symphony No. 1 (In Memoriam, Dresden, 1945)
Date of Composition: Copyright © 1978 Daniel Bukvich
Level of Difficulty: Advanced High School or University
Instrumentation: Wind Ensemble
Ensemble Set-up: Bukvich Symphonic Band Diagram
Performance Time: 6:35
Publisher: Wingert-Jones Music
11225 Colorado
Kansas City, MO 64137-2502
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Program Notes:

Symphony No. 1 (“In Memoriam Dresden, 1945”) was written as Dan Bukvich’s master’s thesis. The piece was originally conceived by Dan to fulfill the requirements of a composition assignment he had dealing with contemporary notation and “using sounds beyond normal instrument sounds. It had to deal with the realization of an entire piece of music from one germ of an idea,” says Bukvich. This work succeeded in launching the career of Dan Bukvich into national prominence.

The idea for the symphony derived from a conversation he once had with the legendary jazz artist Louie Bellson. They were talking about the music of Duke Ellington, and a favorite chord he often used, based on the pitches C, Db, E, G. The harmonic and melodic elements of the piece are based primarily on this chord.

There is a program underlying Symphony No.1. It is meant to depict the fierce Allied bombing attacks on Dresden, Germany, on February 13–14, 1945, which, according to most recent estimates, killed between 25,000 and 30,000 people. The four movements, “Prologue”, “Seeds in the Wind”, “Ave Maria”, and “Firestorm”, are derived from “The Destruction of Dresden”, an historic account of the bombings written by David Irving. Through modern notation, the human voice, and unusual adaptations of traditional wind instruments, Bukvich creates powerful, haunting timbres which evoke many of the emotions surrounding this tragedy. By both accident and design, Bukvich created a contemporary work for winds and percussion which, to this day, is considered amoung his most important contributions to the band repertoire. Bukvich downplays the significance of the piece saying, “I didn’t have any message in the Dresden symphony; I had to complete an assignment on graphic notation.” Although extramusical symbolism and unconventional techniques are used by the composer throughout this programmatic work, Bukvich was not trying to make any revolutionary musical statements. Nevertheless, “Symphony No.1” was a trend-setting piece that would mark the style of music wind conductors would come to expect from Bukvich, and demand from him in numerous, subsequent commissions.

Portions of the program notes extracted from “The Careers and Works of Emerging Composers of Music for the Wind-Band: Discussions with Jack Stamp, Thomas Duffy, Andrew Boysen, Jr. and Daniel Bukvich” by James P. McCrann; edited for content by Susan G. Weaver.


Master’s Thesis Composition to fulfill the following thesis assignment requirements:

  1. Serialize all components from a single, vertical structure
  2. Address changing attention spans
  3. “Orchestral” scoring concepts: solos, exposed parts, colors
  4. Graphic notation
  5. Non-traditional sounds
  6. Non-traditional thematic and motivic elements
    1. Serialized from the following Duke Ellington chord:

      Non-Traditional Motive/Theme:

      Orchestral (buzz) roll with the stick end of timpani mallets, near the edge of the headů slowly gliss. up and down with pedal to imitate bomber engines.

      12”, 13”, or 14” single-headed concert tom-tom covered with a towel&hellp; combines with the timpani effect (above) to sound like bomber engines.

FAQ: Where can I get help with conducting this piece?
Contact Dr. Robert Spevacek - he is the master at conducting this piece -

Recordings: Details about recording(s):
  • Performer(s): University of Idaho Wind Ensemble
  • Conductor: Robert Spevacek
  • Location: Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA
  • Date recorded: May 4, 1981
  • Recording engineer(s): Engineered by EWU Recording Services
  • Digital mastering: Digital remaster by P.K. Northcutt II

File(s) available:

Recording(s) posted: [2002-03-08 00:00:00]

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