Steadfastly rooted in the classical symphonic tradition, yet with a contemporary tonality that speaks to today’s audiences, Patricia Long composed her Symphony in D Major during what she describes as “a rite of passage through one of the most turbulent and trying years of my life.” One would expect a turbulent and discordant work to emerge from a composer writing during a very troubled time. But overall, this symphony reflects conflict resolved rather than conflict in progress.
The strong element of tension and release found throughout all four movements of this work is most pronounced in Movements I and II. The third and fourth movements are very lyrical and serene by comparison, indicating a yearned-for resolution that resided in the mind of this composer if not in the chaotic circumstances that surrounded her. Her nevertheless disciplined work on this symphony was, as she later remarked, “a safe harbor where, for at least a short time every day of that awful year, I dropped anchor during the storm.” This must be why the first two movements evoke the image of a stalwart ship sailing a perilous sea and the last two movements carry this metaphorical ship, weary but unharmed, into pacific waters and a triumphant return home.