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#359777 - 05/12/03 04:39 PM I need some Symphonic recommendations
jeffylube Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/02
Posts: 716
Loc: Weatherford, Texas
I'm somewhat lost on what the great symphonies are. The only 2 that I'm real familiar with are Tchaikovsky's 6th and Rachmaninoff's 2nd, and I love both of them. I'm not real familiar with anything else. I mainly focus on the solo piano and concerto repertoire.

If you have any suggestions on works and possibly recordings I would appreciate it. I have a fondness for Russian, German and Spanish music/composers, but am interested in it all.

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#359778 - 05/12/03 04:51 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
Phlebas Offline

Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Shostakovich, Mahler, Brukner, Brahms, Beethoven, Dvorak to name a few.

#359779 - 05/12/03 05:03 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
I think you should check out Beethoven first. His symphonies are incredible, from the first one to the last one. I bought the score to all of them, and study them as much as I can. Mozart's and Haydn's symphonies are also all excellent.

Even though Bach did not write any symphonies, his orchestral suites and Brandenburgh Concerti are amazing. After you get used to orchestral music, things like Stravinsky's Sacru de printemps or Petrouchka should be very interesting.

#359780 - 05/12/03 05:09 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
mrenaud Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 1336
Loc: Switzerland
Well, there are:

- Classical -

Haydn: over 100 symphonies, some of the more famous are the Surprise Symphony, Military Symphony, Drum Roll Symphony, and the London Symphonies.

Mozart: 41 symphonies, the most famous probably being nos. 40 and 41.

Beethoven: 9 symphonies, all of them great, the most famous being 3 (Eroica), 5, 6 (Pastorale), and the famous no. 9 with its choral finale.

- Romantic -

Berlioz: Symphonie Phantastique, quite interesting to say the least.

Schubert: 9 symphonies, the most famous being no. 8 (The Unfinished). I'm not really familiar with his symphonies.

Brahms: 4 symphonies. His symphonies are essentially a continuation of the Beethoven tradition. If you like Beethoven, you'll also like Brahms.

Schumann: 5 symphonies. I don't know them, but people seem to like it.

Mendelssohn: 5 symphonies, same here, don't know much about them.

Dvorak: 9 symphonies, the best known being nos. 7-9, especially no. 9 (From the New World). That's essentially eastern european music at its best.

Bruckner: 9 symphonies (no. 9 being unfinished), all of them quite long and monumental in scale.

Tchaikovsky: 6 symphonies. The most famous are nos. 5 and 6. These are probably the most important symphonies from the western russian school.

Borodin: 3 symphonies (no. 3 being unfinished). These are gems. These are from the national-russian school of The Mighty Handful (also known as The Five).

Mahler: 10 symphonies (no. 10 being unfinished). These are also quite long and very emotional. They're probably an acquired taste, but they're masterpieces, every one of them. My personal favourites are nos. 2, 6, 7, and 9. Nos. 2 (Resurrection) and 8 (Symphony of a Thousand) are, I think, the most famous. Essentially, Mahler can be seen as the link between the 19th and 20th century.

- 20th century -

Sibelius: 7 symphonies. He writes interesting melodies and especially harmonies. I am not so familiar with them, I know only nos. 6 and 7, no. 7 being quite interesting due to its one-movement structure. Sibelius wrote an 8th symphony, but burned it.

Strauss: He wrote tone poems rather than symphonies. They're very opulently orchestrated in a post-Wagner manner. Some of these are "Thus spoke Zarathustra" (of which everyone knows the introduction), "Till Eulenspiegel", "Death and Transfiguration", and the "Alpine Symphony".

Shostakovich: 15 symphonies. They're quite adventurous, though still rooted in tonalism. As he lived in the Soviet Union, he was quite restricted in what he could do, and he was often a victim of official criticism and accused of writing music "alien to the soviet people". If you want a more traditional symphony, try no. 5. No. 4 is an early symphony, more experimental. Or you could try no. 7 or no. 8. All the others are great too, but these are the ones you're most likely to find recordings of.

Prokofiev: 7 symphonies. He had the same problems with his government as Shostakovich had. The best-known are no. 1 (Classical Symphony) and 5. If you like something more savage, try nos. 2 or 6.

Vaughan Williams: 9 symphonies. His music is traditional english music in the vein of Elgar. Very enjoable. I like nos. 4 and 6 most, though those are rather spiky.

Nielsen: 6 symphonies. They're scandinavian music, but slightly more modern. Try no. 5.

Henze: 10 symphonies so far. I think the only one that's been recorded is no. 7. His symphonies are classical in structure, but not in melody, harmony or rhythm. These are very modern indeed.

Schnittke: 9 symphonies. He often uses various kinds of styles in the same piece. This music too is very modern and an acquired taste.

Gorecki: 3 symphonies so far. No. 3 is the most famous of those and even made it to the british charts. It's a very meditative work.

Glass: 6 symphonies so far. I think the best of them is no. 5, essentially a large-scale work for soloists, chorus and orchestra. The libretto is drawn from various holy scriptures from all over the world. Quite interesting, if you like minimal music.

Whew, that was quite a lot, and I'm sure I missed some. I hope this helps.
I have an ice cream. I cannot mail it, for it will melt.

#359781 - 05/12/03 05:51 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
Freeman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/29/03
Posts: 162
Loc: Lake Worth, FL
mrenaud's list is excellent, though I should make two minor corrections: Schubert only composed 8 symphonies, because there's no 7th symphony (or maybe, if I remember right, only fragments of one). Schumann only wrote 4.

If you love Rachmaninov's 2nd and Tchaikovsky's 6th, the obvious place to start would be the other symphonies of those composers, in particular Rachmaninov's 3rd and Tchaikovsky's 4th and 5th. Also try Glazunov.

#359782 - 05/12/03 06:20 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5485
i'm not as up on symphonies as m. renaud, but i do like the music of delius and elgar for the 20th century. and was stravinsky mentioned? (darn this reply function, if i go back to reread, i lose what i've written so far).

coincidentally, i have the brandenburg concertos playing right now. i adore them, and never get tired of hearing them.

not all orchestral works are symphonies. for example, in addition to brahms' four symphonies, he also wrote the "academic overture" and the "variations on a theme by haydn" (did i remember that right?) he also wrote some incredible concertos. the brahms double concerto would be a fabulous place to begin your explorations.

beethoven also wrote a marvelous violin concerto, as did brahms, tchaikovsky, mendelssohn (i love his "italian" symphony, btw).

i'm not sure i'd agree that brahms symphonies are like beethoven's, even though brahms worshipped beethoven and was so intimidated by beethoven's accomplishments that he waited until quite late in life to start writing symphonies. when finally his first symphony was performed (didn't he take ten or twenty years to write it? memory fails me on this), it was hailed as "beethoven's tenth."

but i actually find brahms (my favorite symphony composer) to have a very different texture and sensibility than beethoven. far more romantic, lush, dark, and complicated. i like beethoven symphonies, but i passionately adore brahms'.

have fun!

now in paperback:

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

#359783 - 05/12/03 06:45 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
jeffylube Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/02
Posts: 716
Loc: Weatherford, Texas
Originally posted by piqu:
(darn this reply function, if i go back to reread, i lose what i've written so far).[/b]
Actually Pique, if you notice, there's a window at the bottom of the "reply" page that shows the current topic and you can scroll through it and look over everything if you need to reference something. It may help you in the future. :p

Thanks for all of the replies. I forgot to mention that I'm also interested in Violin and Cello concertos. I saw, I think, a Dvorak Cello concerto and was really curious about. So if you have any suggestions along these lines I'd be interested as well.

#359784 - 05/12/03 06:57 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
Speaking of Schumann, I think his second symphony is phenomenal. I heard it at Carnegie Hall at the end of April (Philadelphia philharmonic) and it is truly a very great work. The Scherzo is full of life, while the other movements are very interesting and beautiful. The end of the work is remarkable to watch live, since there is a lot of action on the part of the Timpanist.

#359785 - 05/12/03 07:07 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
Kreisler Offline

Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13837
Loc: Iowa City, IA
The following come to mind as being excellent symphonies that are in the standard repertoire:

Mozart - #35, 38, 40, 41
Beethoven - #3, 5, 6, 7, 9
Mendelssohn - #4 ("Italian"), 5 ("Reformation")
Schumann - #1 ("Spring"), 3 ("Rhenish"), I also love #4
Brahms - all 4 are oft played
Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique
Tchaikovsky - #6
Bruckner - #4
Mahler - #1, 2, 3, 5, 8
Prokofiev - #5
Shostakovich - #5
Dvorak - #9
Sibelius - #2 (I LOVE this piece!!!)
Saint-Saens - #3 ("Organ")

Sure I left out some good ones, but those should keep you busy for a few months. \:\)
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


#359786 - 05/12/03 07:24 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
Great lists! Boccherini's symphonies are fun too.

There's Janacek too.

If you've never listened to Gorecky's (pronounced Goretsky) Third Symphony (Symphony of sorrowfull songs) do so--very powerful.
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

#359787 - 05/12/03 08:04 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
johnmoonlight Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 2384
Loc: Lancaster, pa
Beethoven's Ninth is THE mother of all symphonies. And when you realize that he was almost completely deaf at the time of its' composition, makes it all the more astonishing.
Get a great recording/interpretation and listen to it a thousand times. (I would recommend Bernstein)
Also Beethoven Eroica esp. the slow movement.
Beethoven's Fifth...everyone knows the first movement but the subsequent movements are just as remarkable.
Beethoven's Seventh...slow movement
Beethoven's Second...first movement
Schubert's Unfinished...first movement
Mozart's 25th.
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.

#359788 - 05/12/03 08:29 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1108
Loc: El Cajon, California
Some favorites:

Beethoven #3. The first modern symphony by the father of symphonic music.

Bizet Symphony in C. He composed this as a teenager and it was never performed until it was rediscovered in the early 20th century. Influenced by Mozart and a great example of youthful exuberance.

Mahler #4. A tour of heaven, with heavenly singing in the final movement. Try to find the old Cleveland Orchestra recording.

#359789 - 05/12/03 08:53 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
StanSteel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 646
Loc: Los Angeles
Do you like

Symphony No. 4 "Italian" (quite famous; it is nice)
Symphony No. 5 "Reformation" (I like this one better though)

Symphony No. 2 (C minor) (not a great symphony in formal terms; yet my favorite symphony ever; gotta love the main theme and how it is treated)

Symphony No. 3 "Organ" (need I explain why?; very nice orchestration)

"War does not determine who is right; only who is left."

#359790 - 05/12/03 09:18 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
The D's Pianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/01
Posts: 624
Loc: Southwestern Oregon

I recently saw Eugene Fodor in concert playing Paganini's "La Campanella" conerto. At intermission, I rushed to the lobby at bought a copy of a recording he made of a Sibelius violin concerto and a Lalo violin concerto. The Sibelius is.... errrrg I can't find the CD right now. I will make sure to post which they were when I find it. Anyway, the Sibelius is fascinating music, very lush and very mystical. The Lalo is more jumpy and I believe actually has "Espagnole" in its title, being very Spanish and fiery. Altogether, I think that I like the Sibelius more, but that's probably because I have listened to it more. The Lalo seems more like an acquired taste to me.
Benjamin Francis
(I just changed my sig., so no grief, yeah?)
Sofia Gilmson regarding Bach:
"Bach didn't write the subject; he wrote the fugue."

#359791 - 05/12/03 11:12 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
Kreisler Offline

Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13837
Loc: Iowa City, IA
The title of the Lalo is "Symphony Espagnole" - it's a great concerto!
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


#359792 - 05/12/03 11:40 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
ElliottT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/31/03
Posts: 115
Loc: South Carolina
Let me second Bernard's suggestion of Gorecki's third! -Elliott

#359793 - 05/12/03 11:53 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5485
i enjoy concertos even more than symphonies.

tchaikovsky violin concerto--i wore out the nathan milstein version of this growing up.
brahms violin concerto--szigeti on the violin
beethoven violin concerto--wonderful final movement.
brahms' double concerto for cello and violin--rostropovich version (i forget who the violinist is--oistrakh?)


brahms second piano concerto--richter
mozart piano concertos--nice if you can find a pianoforte recording. musical heritage society used to have excellent ones.
rachmaninoff's #2 (makes great movie music)

those are just off the top of my tired head.

btw, i've listened to every brahms interpreter out there, and hands down, i think the finest ever is karl boehm and the berlin philharmonic.

beethoven and bernstein go together like love and marriage, too.

thanks for alerting me about scrolling down to read the thread--i never noticed that before!!!

:p back. ;\)

now in paperback:

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

#359794 - 05/13/03 06:47 AM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
David_J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/02
Posts: 175
Loc: Australia
Symphony 39 by Mozart is a rarely heard gem... it's quite unusual as well...


#359795 - 05/13/03 06:36 PM Re: I need some Symphonic recommendations
Praetorian_AD Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/01
Posts: 717
Loc: England
I heard Rach's 1st symphony on the radio last week (I'd like the second) and I really understood why it got such a terrible review when it first came out in 1897...it was rather nasty to my ears. Wonder what happened when he wrote that...



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