The How and the Why of Memory
Symphony n°4

Timothy Brady
Timothy Brady
Composition Date: 2013
Revision Date: 2016
Duration: 00:21:00
Genre: Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Full Orchestra (20 or more)


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 2 x Flute
  • 2 x Oboe
  • 2 x Clarinet
  • 2 x Bassoon
  • 2 x Horn
  • 2 x Trumpet
  • 3 x Trombone
  • 1 x Timpani
  • 2 x Percussion
  • 1 x Unspecified bowed strings
Instrumentation Set Number 2:
  • 1 x Full orchestra
Programme Note:
Memory is what makes us who we are. We weave our lives, our histories, our worlds, in the fabric of memory. It is the only way we have of grabbing hold to the incessant, intractable flow of time, even if only for a moment.

Music is the art created from this flow of time and it is built on the magic of memory. Composing, perfonning or listening to music is the closest we can get to having time in our hands, to imagine we can bend it to our needs and desires. It is an illusion of memory and emotion, how we transfonn chords and melodies into seemingly living matter, but it is a remarkably powerful illusion and has been part of what it means to be human for over 40,000 years.

In composing my 4th symphony, I wanted to consciously explore matters of time and memory, and the emotions they create in us. To do this, I chose to work with three simple musical techniques where the transfonnation of time and the control of musical ideas are clearly audible: variation (making changes to a musical phrase while still keeping the basic the musical idea in tact), ostinato (a simple repeated musical figure or "riff") andpassacag/ia (a larger, repeating musical phrase).

The work is in one large movement, in 3 linked sections. The first is a set of slowly evolving variations on the simple unison melody heard in the strings at the opening of the work. Near the end of this first section the woodwinds and percussion gain momentum and pull us into the 2nd section of the work - a series of high-energy interlocking ostinatos, pUlsing chords and syncopated melodies. The work closes with a long passacaglia, built on a walking-bass melody. The opening of this section is perhaps the emotional centre of the work, with its mysterious harmonies and its highly expressive melodic solos for oboe, clarinet, flute, and violin. The walking-bass motif eventually expands to include the enitre orchestra, as well as invoking both the original variation melody and some of the powerful rhythmic and hannonic ideas from the ostinato section, before retreating to a point of musical and emotional equilibrium, vanishing back into the
flow of time.

Premiere Information:
Avril 2014, Rebecca Cohn auditorium, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Symphony Nova Scotia; Bernard Gueller, dir.


  • Call Number:
  • MI 1100 B812ho
  • Genre:
  • Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Full Orchestra (20 or more)
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • July 5, 2016
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 partition (viii, 96 p.) ;
    102 Pages
    Height: 43 cm
    Width: 28 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • For orchestra : 2222/2230/2 perc./timpani/strings.
    In 1 movement.
    Commissioned by Symphony Nova Scotia.
    Work submitted at CMC Québec.
    Pour orchestre : 2222/2230/timb+2perc./cordes.
    En 1 mouvement.
    Commande du Symphony Nova Scotia.
    Oeuvre déposée au CMC Québec.
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