Although Malcolm Williamson (b. 1931) has resided in England since the early 1950s, he is regarded as one of Australia's most successful composers. Amongst his large and diverse output, the seven symphonies constitute a substantial body of works that employ techniques typifying Williamson's compositional approach. This study not only identifies and explains these, but also reveals the philosophical impulses underpinning the compositional processes.
A self styled eclectic, Williamson, having studied serialism, has selectively extracted certain of its elements and combined these with compositional features distilled from such composers as Olivier Messiaen, Johannes Ockeghem, Josquin (Soria, 8), and Richard Rodgers (the successful Broadway musical composer) to create a peculiar serialism which operates "in a tonal or modal context" (Oliver).
Since Williamson's idiom is a synthesis of such accessible characteristics as the "big tune" (Mason, 757) and advanced individualised serial-modal techniques, it has not been appropriate to employ any of the established analytical methods. Further, because Williamson adapts various stylistic features for his own purposes, apparent technical inconsistencies inherent in his music often preclude the application of established definitions.