The Last Judgment, for Symphony Orchestra

    This tone poem is based on Stefan Lochner's painting of 1435, The Last Judgment. The composition of the painting is interesting in that Heaven and Hell are depicted on the same level. Those deemed worthy are entering the kingdom of God, on the left. The condemned are being tormented by demons in Hell on the right. Above, we see Jesus, Mary and Saint John the Baptist surrounded by flying angels. At the bottom, demons are attempting to drag a man to Hell but Angels are interceding; perhaps a commentary on the eternal struggle between good and evil.

PDF Score

    This Concerto Breve for Violin and Orchestra represents a stylistic departure for me, from the mostly Romantic style of my previous work, to more of a 20th century sound. In it I have explored extensive use of line, tension-release and contrast as well as atonality mixed with traditional harmony.

    The orchestra is lean and on a scale one might expect for a Concertino. It consists of one each of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, french horn, bass drum, celesta, triangle, wood block, cymbals, wind chimes, 4 timpani and full strings.

    In terms of form, I have made this a single movement in modified sonata form. And, I have used this as a test vehicle for my beliefs concerning symphony-concerto form in general. I feel the next logical step in the long evolution of the symphony and concerto is the fusing of multiple movements into a single work. There is precedent for this in the Symphony in One Movement by Samuel Barber and the Cello Concerto No 1 by Camille Saint-SaŽns, as well as others.

    The consolidation of heterogeneous discussions into a single unified statement eliminates discontinuity and allows the composer to mingle subject matter in a manner not previously possible. For example, thematic material that would normally occur in separate movements could be more easily associated and juxtaposed.

    The material in the customary fast-slow-fast framework (in the case of a concerto) could be presented in the traditional sequence or intermingled. The possibilities for thematic development are greatly enhanced by the joining of movements.

    In this Concerto I have modified the sonata allegro so that the exposition, rather than present a customary first and second subject, is a cache of thematic material to be drawn upon and used as the piece unfolds. The bulk of the piece is the development section followed by a short coda. There is no recapitulation as I feel repetition is unnecessary. The motives and themes from the exposition have been explored and developed. Rehashing them is redundant and serves no purpose.

    He was known as Vlad Tepec, Vlad Dracula and Vlad the Impaler. He was the real Dracula.

    The story of Vlad the Impaler is a story of cruelty and terror. At the core of it, though, it is a tale of intrigue, betrayal and revenge. Here I seek not to portray the horrific acts committed by Vlad but to explore what created him. The piece opens as Vlad Dracul II (Father of Vlad the Impaler) is assassinated. News reaches his son, Vlad Dracula, who is living in Turkey. Vlad is overcome with sorrow that soon turns to anger. The teenaged Vlad vows revenge.

    With the help of the Turkish cavalry, he marches on Wallachia (lower Romania) and regains the throne that is rightfully his. But only briefly. The man who arranged his father's death, John Hunyadi, appoints another, Vladislav II, as ruler of Wallachia. Wisely, the young and inexperienced Vlad allies himself with Hunyadi and patiently awaits the right moment. Over the years his sorrow, resentment and anger build. Then he strikes.

    Vladislav II is defeated, Hunyadi is executed and the Boyers and their families are arrested on Easter day. Those who are able-bodied are enslaved and put to work on Vlad's castle. The old and weak are impaled. Thus begins the bloody reign of Vlad the Impaler. In the years that followed, Vlad ordered the death of thousands. It is said that he liked to take his meals outdoors where he could enjoy the suffering of the impaled and even drank their blood.

    It is interesting to note that in Romania, Vlad is admired and regarded as a national hero. He is remembered more for his defeat of the Turks than the thousands of people who suffered impalement.

    Note: Two of my earlier pieces, Thunder Mountain and Gargoyles have been withdrawn while undergoing revision.

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    My name is Bill DeWitt and music has been my passion for as long as I can remember. But then everybody is passionate about music so let me qualify that comment. I have always wanted to express myself by composing pieces for a symphony orchestra. Even as young child, I felt I wanted to write music.

    The opportunity and motivation to express that desire did not present itself however, until I was in high school. That was when I discovered the classics. It all began one day in 1967 when I changed the channel on the radio and happened to hear Mendelssohn's Overture to a Mid Summer Nights Dream. From then on, I was hooked on the classics and spent much of my spare cash on classical recordings; back in the good ol' days of vinyl records.

    I soon discovered that not only did I love the classics but I understood them as well. That is, I listened analytically to what was going on deep in the music and had a sense of how things were put together. My interest was peaked and my violin and piano studies were augmented with a formal study of music theory. I also began reading orchestra scores, an endeavor that has taught me more about composition than any other method of study. By my final year of high school I finally realized my dream of writing music though I will be the first to say the world is a better place since I lost those early efforts.

    Writing for orchestra is one thing; getting a score performed is another matter entirely. That is, until computers and sampling technology appeared. Composers are now able to create realistic 'mockups' of their work without the services of a symphony orchestra. With samples and software for entering and control of the samples, it is possible create performances of original music, the classics or whatever style of music one desires. One of the best (and most affordable) sample libraries available is the Garritan Personal Orchestra. All of the music on this site was created using the Garritan sample libraries and Overture 4.1 notation.

    I am a native of Colorado, born in a small town called Rifle and raised in Denver. Twenty years of my life was devoted to serving in the U. S. Navy during which time I had the opportunity to visit much of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. I now live in a town called Grand Junction, an hour from where I was born.

    Bill DeWitt
    Grand Junction, CO

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