Haether Buchman and Symphoria.
In 1950, composer Marion Bauer completed her Symphony No. 1. The piece was to premiere the following November at the Symposium of American Orchestral Music at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., but three copyists tasked with creating the orchestral parts from Bauer’s score did what the composer called an abysmal job.

There were “literally hundreds of errors — notes misread, ties omitted, dynamics forgotten, even wrong instruments copied in the parts,” according to what Bauer wrote in the critical notes of the piece.

Heather Buchman

Carolyn C. and David M.’38 Ellis Distinguished Teaching Professor of Music

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After the errors forced the symphony from missing its scheduled debut, the work became all but forgotten. That is until 2020 when Heather Buchman, the Carolyn C. and David M. Ellis ’38 Distinguished Professor of Music and director of the Hamilton College Orchestra, learned about it at an International Conductors’ Guild conference. The Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy, which champions the performance of women composers, had facilitated editing Symphony No. 1 into a performance edition.

“It caught my eye because it had a note attached — ‘has never been performed,’” Buchman says. “Marion Bauer was a significant presence in American classical music in the first half of the 20th century; she taught at both NYU and at Juilliard, so the fact that her symphony was never performed seemed an egregious neglect of someone who should be celebrated.”

Through Buchman’s other role — guest conductor for Symphoria, Syracuse’s professional orchestra — she worked with colleagues to develop Unheard No More, a concert centered around the Bauer work. At long last, Buchman conducted the world premiere of Symphony No. 1 on Oct. 15, 2022.

“It felt momentous to have the honor of making this piece come alive for the first time and to share that with the other musicians and audience in the room,” Buchman says. “Marion Bauer’s compositional voice was unfortunately kept out of the conversation with her contemporaries. The least we can do is to bring it into a new conversation and add her to a more complete and inclusive picture of mid-20th century American symphonic music.”

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