Knoxville Symphony Orchestra; David Van Vactor, conductor
Born in Chicago, July 2, 1906, Robert Sanders had appeared publicly as a piano prodigy before he had reached the age of four. He also showed early evidence of a creative gift. At the age of nineteen he received a Mus.M. degree from the Bush Conservatory of Chicago, and was awarded a Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, where he studied composition with Ottorino Respighi. Later he continued piano study with Guy de Lioncourt in Paris. The acknowledged chief influences during his formative years were Respighi, de Lioncourt, Eric De Lamarter and Edgar Nelson of Chicago, and Walter Helfer, a fellow resident at the American Academy in Rome.
The Symphony in A was composed in the period from November 1954 to February 1955, during the composer's residence in Majorca while on a Guggenheim Fellowship. There is, according to the composer, "no conscious 'program', but a very conscious architecture." This concentration on architectural balance and contrast does nothing to disturb Sanders' normal hymn-tune background, and the various kinds of musical expressivity in the four movements flow with ease and craftsmanship.
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