program notes by composition > S > Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah"

Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah”

Leonard Bernstein / arr. Frank Bencriscutto

Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” Bernstein composed the symphony in three movements following the Biblical story of Jeremiah. According to Jewish tradition, Jeremiah was called to give prophecy of Jerusalem's destruction that would occur by invaders from the north because Israel had been unfaithful to the laws of the covenant and had forsaken God. Jeremiah was guided by God to proclaim that the nation of Judah would be faced with famine, plundered, and taken captive by foreigners who would exile them to a foreign land.

Profanation, the second movement, opens with a theme derived from the Ashkenazic cantillation of the prophets. Mockery of Jeremiah by the corrupt priesthood leads to a "pagan celebration" in which the cantillation is distorted into "violent, dance-like, almost jazzy rhythms" -- and in the midst of which the theme of the preceding movement is heard, in the nature of a solemn warning, from the horns that had introduced it.

Last updated on November 11, 2018 by Palatine Concert Band