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Symphony, Part 02

Part II of our series examining the concept of the symphony, widely considered the most important form of classical music.

Program 1

Bill continues with the early symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, highlighting the massive leap the composer took in composing his Symphony No. 3 in Eb Major, titled "Eroica." Whereas Beethoven's previous two symphonies echoed the courtly and modest styles of his teacher Joseph Haydn as well as his idol Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his Third Symphony did away with these polite notions in a thrilling and powerful manner. He composed a vast and imaginative emotional landscape that essentially changed the course of music thereafter. His symphony signaled the end of the Age of Enlightenment and the beginnings of what Bill coins the, "age of the individual." Complosers were no longer merely in servitude to royal patronage; they were now prophetic artists. 

The Third Symphony had previously been titled "Bonaparte" after Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Beethoven greatly admired. However, once Napoleon had crowned himself emperor, Beethoven tore apart the dedication and renamed the symphony. The symphony's subject was then a former, fallen hero whose funeral is illustrated in the symphony's dramatic second movement.

While monumental in the scheme of music history, Beethoven's new symphonic style was not entirely well received. Many initially viewed his contemporatries, such as Luigi Cherubini and Louis Spohr, to be greater composers, though their works strayed less from standard classical forms.


Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 (excerpts)
Vienna Phil/Rattle
EMI 57445
1:01, :57

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in Eb Major, Eroica, excerpts + I
Vienna Phil/Rattle
EMI 57445

Cherubini:  Symphony in D Major (excerpt)
NBC Symphony Orchestra/ Toscanini
RCA 60872
Spohr: Symphony No. 2 in d minor, III
Singapore Symphony Orch/Hoey
Marco Polo 8.220360
Beethoven:  Symphony No. 3, II
Vienna Phil/Rattle
EMI 60872


Program 2

Franz Schubert lived for a mere 32 years, yet he was a remarkably prolific composer, having written hundreds of "lieder", or art songs, as well as nine symphonies. A pupil of Antonio Salieri, Schubert's music, like Beethoven's, marks significant departure from the preeminent composers Haydn and Mozart. Pianist Alfred Brendel described Schubert as a "sleepwalker," for his ability to evoke dreamlike, immersive atmospheres in his music with incredible skill and ease.

Schubert's symphonic career follows a similar trajectory to Beethoven's in that they both composed nine symphonies, each being more long and complex than the last. Whereas Mozart and Haydn each composed dozens in quick successon, 19th century symphonies started taking longer to compose due to their increasingly personal and introspective nature. 





Schubert: Symphony No. 5 in Bb Major, I + II (excerpt)
Salzburg Mozarteum Camerata Academica/Végh
Capriccio 10535
7:16 + 3:26

Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in b minor, Unfinished, I
Vienna Phil/Kleiber
DG 449745

Schubert: Symphony No. 9 in C Major, Great, excerpts + II
Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Abbado
DG 423656
Lennon/McCartney: Blackbird (excerpt)
The Beatles
EMI 46443
Schubert: Symphony No. 9, IV(excerpt)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Abbado
DG 423656


Program 3

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, I (excerpts)
RCA 68979
3:02, 3:28

Berlioz: Harold in Italy, I
Nat’l Orchestra of France/Bernstein; McInnes, vla.
EMI 64745

Berlioz: Queen Mab Scherzo fr. Roméo et Juliette
Philadelphia Orch/Muti
EMI 75570

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, excerpts + III & IV
Lon 436839
Berlioz: Grande Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale, III (excerpt)
Phil 442290
Program 4

Mendelssohn: String Symphony No. 1 in C Major, II
English String Orchestra/Boughton
Nimbus 5141

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 1 in C Major, II
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orch/Masur
Teldec 44933

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 5 in Bb Major, IV
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orch/Masur
Teldec 44933

Berlioz: Harold in Italy (excerpt)
Nat’l Orchestra of France/Bernstein; McInnes, vla.
EMI 64745

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A Major, Italian, II
Lon 414665

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4, VI
Marlboro Festival Orc/Casals
Sony 46251

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3 (excerpts)
Berlin Phil/ Levine
DG 427670
17:35, 3:29


Program 5

Schumann: Symphony in g minor, Zwickau, I
Radio Symphony Orchestra of Stuttgart/ Marriner
Capriccio 10094

Schumann: Symphony No. 1 in Bb Major, Spring, I
Cleveland Orch/Szell
Sony 62349

Schumann: Symphony No. 4 in d minor (excerpts) 
Cleveland Orch/Szell
Sony 62349
:32, :50, 3:32
Schumann: Symphony No. 2 in C Major (excerpts)
Philharmonia Orch/Klemperer
1:08, 1:15, 8:33
Schumann: Symphony No. 3 in EFlat Major, Rhenish (excerpts)
Berlin Phil/Levine
DG 423625
9:42, 6:21, 1:35
Brahms: Symphony No. 3, I (excerpt)
Berlin Phil/Karajan
DG 427496



The Exploring Music streaming website is supported by Mr. & Mrs. William Gardner Brown and the Richard P. and Susan Kiphart Family.  
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