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Sound Scripts

Article Title

Something Old is Now New Again: Why Haven't We Heard Robert Hughes's Symphony No. 1

Abstract

Why do we not hear Australian symphonies that were composed prior to 1960? An important case is Symphony No.1 ( 19 51, rev.1971) by Robert Hugh es(1912-2007). It is a work that could be seen as a major contribution to the Australian orchestral repertory, and it raises issues that resonate through the history of that repertory. The Symphony received attention from such distinguished conductors as Barbirolli and Sir Eugene Goossens, and was performed in the 1950s. Since Hughes revised the Symphony, in 1971, there has been little discussion or performance of the work. Why? Is it because of the condition of the score, or has there been a lack of understanding of the composer's aesthetic and technique? This paper will shed some light on the issues that have contributed to the neglect of Hughes's Symphony as well as pay tribute to the life and work of this significant Australian composer.

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