Shortly before I began, I received the interesting news that the Symphony is Dead. After some investigation I discovered this report to have been an exaggeration: the Symphony has merely descended into Hell.
William Blake wrote: "As I was walking among the fires of Hell…I collected some of the proverbs; thinking that if the savings used in a nation mark its character, so the Proverbs of Hell show the nature of Infernal Wisdom better than any description of bidlings or garments." This first movement derives its title from one of these Proverbs of Hell: "The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction."
The second movement, Mr. Squirrel, is a character study. The title was suggested by a photograph of my younger son holding up his toy squirrel before the façade of the Orvieto cathedral (here depicting in bas-relief the torments of Hell). Mr. Squirrel is impatient, irreverent, and industrious; he gathers his nuts while trying to appear unconcerned about the future. The part of Mr. Squirrel is played by the E-flat clarinet.
The third movement, Moonscapes, is a contemplation of various aspects of the moon.
The last movement is entitled Spring.