Symphony No.10 is dedicated to Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, who commissioned it in celebration of the orchestra’s centenary. The commission was at once a great honour and a tremendous challenge. My first thought was to write a show-piece with virtuoso pyrotechnics to take fullest advantage of the celebrated technical possibilities of the Orchestra. However, I eventually decided that the best homage to these brilliant players would be a symphony which, through various combinations of groups of instruments, would demonstrate their supreme sound quality, show off their collective musicianship and humanity, and their ability to convey their intense and profound feeling.
The musical material of Symphony No.10 consists of tonal melodic lines with a simultaneous flow of reflected and transposed 3-note cells. It is written in one continuous movement, in four sections: largo, allegro moderato, presto and adagio. The first part has the character of an invocation. The following sections, meditative in character, build up gradually to a climax, which is suddenly cut short, leaving the vibrations of the piano-strings, from which emerge the prayer-like section of the symphony.
As in my previous symphonies, the beauty and mystic forces of geometry influenced me in the overall design. The invisible skeleton of the symphony is the "golden ellipse"; its curving frame guided me in the ordering of the expressive contractions and expansions of musical texture. The music progresses along its elliptical course for one and half orbits, until suddenly it straightens out into a new trajectory leading to the conclusion of the symphony.
For the diagram illustrating the construction of this work, see the programme note section on www.panufnik.com
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer