Machines and Dreams - A Toy Symphony


toy instruments and full orchestra
Full Orchestra, By Children, For Children
Instrumentation - 4331 - timp - perc(2/3): BD/hi-hat/cyms/2 susp.cym/2 anvil/4 tom-t/tgl/tamb/(vibraslap)/vib/2 tam-t/(flexatone)/ratchet or guiro/glsp/siz.cym - pno - harp - strings - Toy instruments: 4 toy pno/ horns/sirens/fishing-rod reel/metronomes/2 toy guns/bird calls/noise machines/voice changer - football hooligans

Commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra for the opening concert of their 1991 Childhood Festival

First Performance
24.1.91, Barbican Hall, London: London Symphony Orchestra/Michael Tilson Thomas

Score 0-571-53398-1 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

Colin Matthews Machines and Dreams Machines and Dreams was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra for their 1991 ‘Childhood’ Festival. I was asked to write a contemporary equivalent of the Toy Symphony attributed to Leopold Mozart, and the starting point for the composition was a visit to Hamley’s toyshop with Michael Tilson Thomas, where we bemused the assistants trying out numerous toys for their acoustic properties. The toys eventually chosen for the children’s orchestra in the three ‘machine’ movements (the ‘dreams’ of the title are two interludes for grown-up orchestra alone, which can be omitted) include: in the first movement, toy pianos, car horns and sirens; in the middle movement bird calls; and in the finale a combination of the above with the addition of computer ‘game’ noise-machines, and an extra surprise element. The music for the children’s orchestra is not improvised, but notated throughout: what I particularly hoped to do in this piece was to provide the experience of playing as soloists in front of a large orchestra, and to make the experience and enjoyable one. Colin Matthews

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