The second movement (Tarantella) of y Symphomy No. 1 was written in memory of a friend who was an executive in the music industry. He was also an amateur pianist, and in 1970, when I wrote a set of dances (Gazebo Dances for piano, four hands) for various friends to play, I dedicated the final, tarantella, movement to him. This was a jaunty little piece whose mood, as in many tarantellas, seems to be at odds with its purpose. For the tarantella, as described in Grove’s Dictionary of Music, is a ‘South Italian dance played at a continually increasing speed [and] by means of dancing it a strange kind of insanity [attributed to a tarantula bite] could be cured.’ The association of madness and my piano piece proved both prophetic and bitterly ironic when my friend, whose wit and intelligence were legendary in the music field, became insane as a result of AIDS dementia.
– John Corigliano