The Second Symphony had its origins in a 1962 agreement between John Barnes Chance and composer Clifton Williams, who agreed that each would write a work using the four-note motif C#-D-F-E. When Chance sent a tape of part of his work to Williams, the latter gave up, and Chance turned to other endeavors. At the time he was composer-in-residence with the Ford Foundation's Young Composers Project, living in Greensboro, North Carolina.
He subsequently moved to a position as associate professor of composition and theory at the University of Kentucky/Lexington. In 1972, the Northwest Music Center in North Dakota commissioned him to write a work dedicated to the Minot State College Wind Ensemble. He resurrected the earlier work and added to it, creating this symphony. His accidental death soon after precluded his ever hearing it performed. – James Huff