The End of an Ambitious Project

At the beginning of 2012 I decided to listen to a different symphony every day of the year.  I began on January 1st with a recording of Kalinnikov’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor by Kiril Kondrashin and the Moscow Philharmonic; a record I’d picked up at a used bookstore on a whim. Over the course of the year I heard 366 symphonies, many for the first time. It introduced many new composers to me and opened a plethora of new doors into classical music that I look forward to exploring this year. It became a pleasant routine, beginning most of my mornings at work with a new symphony while checking my email and planning out the day. There were negative sides to the exercise as well though. Many of the symphonies did not receive a fair hearing as I was forcing them into an already busy day. There were many days when I was too busy and had to fit two symphonies in the next day. It often became little more than a mechanical chore. It also forced me to rely quite a bit on Spotify for finding new music. There is nothing like having a symphony build to a climactic fourth movement only for it to stop for an advertisement for condoms. It is unlikely I will ever again take part in a listening program as rigid as this was. In the near future I will probably not write as often as I had in the past (not counting the last year in which I made zero posts of course). Listening will be leisurely. I plan on listening to several related pieces whether composer, time period, type. When something strikes me as interesting I’ll post. And if you want to know what symphonies I heard this past year keep scrolling.

  • 1/1- Vasily Kalinnikov- Symphony No. 1 in G minor
  • 1/2 Johannes Brahms- Symphony No. 1 in C minor
  • 1/3 Ralph Vaughan Williams- Symphony No. 5 in D major
  • 1/4 Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No. 7 in A major
  • 1/5 Hector Berlioz- Harold in Italy
  • 1/6 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 40 in G minor
  • 1/7 Jean Sibelius- Symphony No. 2 in D major
  • 1/8 Cesar Franck- Symphony in D minor
  • 1/9 Robert Schumann- Symphony No. 1 in Bb major “Spring”
  • 1/10 Antonin Dvorak- Symphony No. 6 in D major
  • 1/11 Gustav Mahler- Song of the Earth
  • 1/12 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 100 in G major “Military”
  • 1/13 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky- Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Little Russian”
  • 1/14 Carl Nielsen- Symphony No. 4 “The Inextinguishable”
  • 1/15 Philip Glass- Symphony No. 4 “Heroes”
  • 1/16 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 4 in C minor
  • 1/17 Felix Mendelssohn- Symphony No. 3 in A minor “Scottish”
  • 1/18 Igor Stravinsky- The Symphony of Psalms
  • 1/19 Sergei Rachmaninoff- The Bells Symphony
  • 1/20 Sergei Prokofiev- Symphony No. 5 in Bb major
  • 1/21 Nikolai Miaskovsky- Symphony No. 21 in F# minor
  • 1/22 Georges Bizet- Symphony in C
  • 1/23 Sir Edward Elgar- Symphony No. 1 in A major
  • 1/24 Richard Strauss- Eine Alpensinfonie
  • 1/25 Charles Ives- Symphony No. 1 in D minor
  • 1/26 Einojuhani Rautavaara- Symphony No. 8 “The Journey”
  • 1/27 Olivier Messiaen- Turangalila-Symphonie
  • 1/28 Krzysztof Penderecki- Symphony No. 3
  • 1/29 Franz Schubert- Symphony No. 9 in C major “Great”
  • 1/30 Anton Bruckner- Symphony No. 7 in E major
  • 1/31 William Walton- Symphony No. 1 in Bb major
  • 2/1 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 45 in F# minor “Farewell”
  • 2/2 Antonin Dvorak- Symphony No. 5 in F major
  • 2/3 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 35 in D major “Haffner”
  • 2/4 Camille Saint-Saens- Symphony No. 3 in C minor “Organ”
  • 2/5 Jean Sibelius- Symphony No. 6 in D minor
  • 2/6 Carl Nielsen- Symphony No. 5
  • 2/7 Felix Mendelssohn- Symphony No. 2 in Bb major “Lobgesang”
  • 2/8 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky- Symphony No. 6 in B minor “Pathetique”
  • 2/9 Alexander Borodin- Symphony No. 2 in B minor
  • 2/10 Sergei Rachmaninoff- Symphony No. 2 in E minor
  • 2/11 Ralph Vaughan Williams- Symphony No. 7 “Sinfonia Antartica”
  • 2/12 Robert Schumann- Symphony No. 3 in Eb major “Rhenish”
  • 2/13 Johannes Brahms- Symphony No. 3 in F major
  • 2/14 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 11 in G minor “The Year 1905”
  • 2/15 Gustav Mahler- Symphony No. 8 in Eb major “Symphony of a Thousand”
  • 2/16 Sergei Prokofiev- Symphony No. 1 in D major “Classical”
  • 2/17 Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No. 1 in C major
  • 2/18 Anton Bruckner- Symphony No. 4 in Eb major “Romantic”
  • 2/19 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 41 in C major “Jupiter”
  • 2/20 Sir Edward Elgar- Symphony No. 2 in Eb major
  • 2/21 Franz Schubert- Symphony No. 5 in Bb major
  • 2/22 Sergei Rachmaninoff- Symphony No. 1 in D minor
  • 2/23 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 104 in D major “London”
  • 2/24 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky- Symphony No. 5 in E minor
  • 2/25 Antonin Dvorak- Symphony No. 8 in G major
  • 2/26 Jean Sibelius- Symphony No. 1 in E minor
  • 2/27 Felix Mendelssohn- Symphony No. 5 in D major “Reformation”
  • 2/28 Gustav Mahler- Symphony No. 1 in D major “Titan”
  • 2/29 Ralph Vaughan Williams- Symphony No. 1 “A Sea Symphony”
  • 3/1 Anton Bruckner- Symphony No. 9 in D minor
  • 3/2 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 25 in G minor
  • 3/3 Johannes Brahms- Symphony No. 2 in D major
  • 3/4 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky- Symphony No. 4 in F minor
  • 3/5 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 10 in E minor
  • 3/6 Sergei Rachmaninoff- Symphony No. 3 in A minor
  • 3/7 Franz Schubert- Symphony No. 8 in B minor “Unfinished”
  • 3/8 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 101 in D major “The Clock”
  • 3/9 Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No. 2 in D major
  • 3/10 Jean Sibelius- Symphony No. 4 in A minor
  • 3/11 Antonin Dvorak- Symphony No. 7 in D minor
  • 3/12 Felix Mendelssohn- Symphony No. 4 in A major “Italian”
  • 3/13 Gustav Mahler- Symphony No. 5
  • 3/14 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 36 in C major “Linz”
  • 3/15 Johannes Brahms- Symphony No. 4 in E minor
  • 3/16 Ralph Vaughan Williams- Symphony No. 2 “A London Symphony”
  • 3/17 Hector Berlioz- Symphonie Fantastique
  • 3/18 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 94 in G major “Surprise”
  • 3/19 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky- Symphony No. 1 in G minor “Winter Daydreams”
  • 3/20 Dmitri Tchaikovsky- Symphony No. 5 in D minor
  • 3/21 Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No. 8 in F major
  • 3/22 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 38 in D major “Prague”
  • 3/23 Antonin Dvorak- Symphony No. 9 in E minor “From the New World”
  • 3/24 Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No. 5 in C minor
  • 3/25 Jean Sibelius- Symphony No. 7 in C major
  • 3/26 Gustav Mahler- Symphony No. 3
  • 3/27 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky- “The Manfred Symphony”
  • 3/28 Ralph Vaughan Williams- Symphony No. 3 “A Pastoral Symphony”
  • 3/29 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 29 in A major
  • 3/30 Gustav Mahler- Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection”
  • 3/31 Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No. 4 in Bb major
  • 4/1 Anton Bruckner- Symphony No. 8 in C minor
  • 4/2 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 39 in Eb major
  • 4/3 Gustav Mahler- Symphony No. 4
  • 4/4 Jean Sibelius- Symphony No. 3 in C major
  • 4/5 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov- Symphony No. 2 “Antar”
  • 4/6 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 7 in C major “Leningrad”
  • 4/7 Henryk Gorecki- Symphony No. 3 “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs”
  • 4/8 Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No. 6 in F major “Pastoral”
  • 4/9 Jean Sibelius- Symphony No. 5 in Eb major
  • 4/10 Gustav Mahler- Symphony No. 6 in A minor “Tragic”
  • 4/11 Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No. 3 in Eb “Eroica”
  • 4/12 Camille Saint-Saens- Symphony No. 1 in Eb major
  • 4/13 Vincent D’Indy- Symphony on a French Mountain Aire
  • 4/14 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 34 in C major
  • 4/15 Philip Glass- Symphony No. 5 “Requiem, Bardo, Nirmanakaya”
  • 4/16 Robert Schumann- Symphony No. 4 in D minor
  • 4/17 Ralph Vaughan Williams- Symphony No. 8 in D minor
  • 4/18 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky- Symphony No. 3 in D major “Polish”
  • 4/19 Ludwig van Beethoven- Symphony No. 9 in D minor “Choral”
  • 4/20 Aaron Copland- Symphony for Organ and Orchestra
  • 4/21 Charles Ives- Symphony No. 3 “The Camp Meeting”
  • 4/22 Vasily Kalinnikov- Symphony No. 2 in A major
  • 4/23 Sergei Prokofiev- Symphony No. 4
  • 4/24 Igor Stravinsky- Symphony in C
  • 4/25 Gustav Mahler- Symphony No. 9
  • 4/26 Max Bruch- Symphony No. 1 in Eb major
  • 4/27 Alexander Borodin- Symphony No. 1 in Eb major
  • 4/28 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 8 in C minor
  • 4/29 Ralph Vaughan Williams- Symphony No. 9 in E minor
  • 4/30 Camille Saint-Saens- Symphony No. 2 in A minor
  • 5/1 Felix Mendelssohn- Symphony No. 1 in C minor
  • 5/2 William Walton- Symphony No. 2
  • 5/3 Johan de Meij- Symphony No. 1 “The Lord of the Rings”
  • 5/4 Emil von Reznicek- Symphony No. 1 in D minor “Tragic”
  • 5/5 Aaron Copland- Symphony No. 3
  • 5/6 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 34 in D minor
  • 5/7 Samuel Barber- Symphony No. 1 “Symphony in One Movement”
  • 5/8 Franz Liszt- “A Faust Symphony”
  • 5/9 Leonard Bernstein- Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah”
  • 5/10 Alexander Scriabin- Symphony No. 3 in C minor “The Divine Poem”
  • 5/11 William Grant Stills- Symphony No. 2 in G minor “Song of a New Race”
  • 5/12 Ralph Vaughan Williams- Symphony No. 4 in F minor
  • 5/13 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 6 in B minor
  • 5/14 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 31 in D major “Paris”
  • 5/15 Einojuhani Rautavaara- Symphony No. 3
  • 5/16 Gustav Mahler- Symphony No. 7
  • 5/17 Franz Schubert- Symphony No. 4 in C minor “Tragic”
  • 5/18 Robert Schumann- Symphony No. 2 in C major
  • 5/19 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 9 in Eb major
  • 5/20 Arthur Meulemans- Symphony No. 2
  • 5/21 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 32 in C major
  • 5/22 Henryk Gorecki- Symphony No. 2 “Kopernikowska”
  • 5/23 Charles Ives- Symphony No. 4
  • 5/24 Hector Berlioz- Romeo and Juliet
  • 5/25 Ernest Chausson- Symphony in Bb major
  • 5/26 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 15 in A major
  • 5/27 Ralph Vaughan Williams- Symphony No. 6 in E minor
  • 5/28 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 28 in C major
  • 5/29 Antonin Dvorak- Symphony No. 1 in C minor “The Bells of Zionice”
  • 5/30 Philip Glass- Symphony No. 3
  • 5/31 Carl Nielsen- Symphony No. 1 in G minor
  • 6/1 Franz Berwald- Symphony No. 1 in G minor “Sinfonie Serieuse”
  • 6/2 Nikolai Miaskovsky- Symphony No. 16 in F major “Aviation”
  • 6/3 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 88 in G major
  • 6/4 Leonard Bernstein- Symphony No. 2 “The Age of Anxiety”
  • 6/5 Franz Schubert- Symphony No. 1 in D major
  • 6/6 Franz Schubert- Symphony No. 2 in Bb major
  • 6/7 Franz Schubert- Symphony No. 3 in D major
  • 6/8 Aram Khachaturian- Symphony No. 2 “The Bell Symphony”
  • 6/9 Anton Bruckner- Symphony No. 5 in Bb major
  • 6/10 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 9 in C major
  • 6/11 Sergei Prokofiev- Symphony No. 3 C minor
  • 6/12 Krzysztof Penderecki- Symphony No. 1
  • 6/13 Igor Stravinsky- Symphony In Three Movements
  • 6/14 Benjamin Britten- Spring Symphony
  • 6/15 Edvard Grieg- Symphony No. 1 in C minor
  • 6/16 Franz Schubert- Symphony No. 6 in C major
  • 6/17 Philip Glass- Symphony No. 2
  • 6/18 Richard Strauss- Symphony No. 2 in F minor
  • 6/19 Johan Halvorsen- Symphony No. 1 in C minor
  • 6/20 Sir Eugene Goossens- Symphony No. 1
  • 6/21 Wilhelm Stenhammar- Symphony No. 2 in G minor
  • 6/22 Alexander Borodin- Symphony No. 3 in A minor “Unfinished”
  • 6/23 Erkki Melartin- Symphony No. 2 in E minor
  • 6/24 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 12 in G major
  • 6/25 Franz Schubert- Symphony No. 7 in E major “Unfinished”
  • 6/26 Charles Gounod- Symphony No. 2 in Eb
  • 6/27 Jan Kalivoda- Symphony No. 5 in B minor
  • 6/28 Felix Draeseke- Symphony No. 1 in G major
  • 6/29 Joachim Raff- Symphony No. 8 in A major “Sounds of Spring”
  • 6/30 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 16 in C major
  • 7/1 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 6 in D major “Le Matin”
  • 7/2 Luis de Freitas Branco- Symphony No. 1
  • 7/3 Qunihico Hashimoto- Symphony No. 1 in D major
  • 7/4 Charles Ives- Symphony No. 2
  • 7/5 Peder Gram- Symphony No. 1
  • 7/6 Adolf Fredrik Lindblad- Symphony No. 1 in C major
  • 7/7 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 19 in Eb major
  • 7/8 Jef van Hoof- Symphony No. 2 in Ab major
  • 7/9 Malcolm Arnold- Symphony No. 1
  • 7/10 Ferdinand Ries- Symphony No. 2 in C minor
  • 7/11 Karl Wiegl- Symphony No. 6 in A minor
  • 7/12 Janis Ivanovs- Symphony No. 2 in D minor
  • 7/13 Antonin Dvorak- Symphony No. 2 in Bb major
  • 7/14 Alice Mary Smith- Symphony No. 2 in A minor
  • 7/15 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 13 in F major
  • 7/16 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 59 in A major “Fire”
  • 7/17 Gustav Mahler- Symphony No. 10 “Unfinished”
  • 7/18 Havergal Brian- Symphony No. 1 in D minor “The Gothic”
  • 7/19 Leopold Mozart- “The Toy Symphony”
  • 7/20 Kurt Atterburg- Symphony No. 2 in F major
  • 7/21 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 7 in D major
  • 7/22 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 30 in C major “Alleluia”
  • 7/23 Vincent D’Indy- Symphony No. 1 in A minor “Italienne”
  • 7/24 Kurt Atterburg- Symphony No. 3
  • 7/25 Sergei Taneyev- Symphony No. 3 in D minor
  • 7/26 Philip Glass- Symphony No. 1 “Low Symphony”
  • 7/27 Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach- Symphony in G major
  • 7/28 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 15 in G major
  • 7/29 Carl Maria von Weber- Symphony No. 1 in C major
  • 7/30 Anton Rubinstein- Symphony No. 4 in D minor “Dramatic”
  • 7/31 Erno Dohnanyi- Symphony No. 2 in E major
  • 8/1 Cyril Scott- Symphony No. 4
  • 8/2 Sir Arthur Bliss- “A Colour Symphony”
  • 8/3 Charles Gounod- Symphony No. 1 in D major
  • 8/4 Havergal Brian- Symphony No. 15 in A major
  • 8/5 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 6 in F major
  • 8/6 Nikolai Miaskovsky- Symphony No. 10 in F minor “The Bronze Horseman”
  • 8/7 Svend Erik Tarp- Symphony No. 7 in C minor “Galaxy”
  • 8/8 Antonin Dvorak- Symphony No. 3 in Eb major
  • 8/9 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 48 in C major “Maria Theresia”
  • 8/10 Leonard Bernstein- Symphony No. 3 “Kaddish”
  • 8/11 Richard Strauss- “Symphonia Domestica”
  • 8/12 Adalbert Gyrowetz- Symphony No. 2 in Eb major
  • 8/13 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 44 in E minor “Mourning”
  • 8/14 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov- Symphony No. 1 in E minor
  • 8/15 Anton Bruckner- Symphony No. 0 in D minor “Die Nullte”
  • 8/16 Johan Severin Svendsen- Symphony No. 1 in D major
  • 8/17 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 32 in G major
  • 8/18 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 31 in D major “Hornsignal”
  • 8/19 Michael Haydn- Symphony No. 33 in Bb major
  • 8/20 Franz Berwald- Symphony No. 2 in C major “Capricieuse”
  • 8/21 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 1 in F minor
  • 8/22 Alexander Scriabin- Symphony No. 1 in E major
  • 8/23 Einojuhani Rautavaara- Symphony No. 4 “Arabescata”
  • 8/24 Sir Edward Elgar- Symphony No. 3
  • 8/25 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 12 in E major
  • 8/26 Max Bruch- Symphony No. 3 in E major
  • 8/27 Carl Nielsen- Symphony No. 6 “Sinfonia Semplice”
  • 8/28 Philippe Gaubert- Symphony in F major
  • 8/29 Alexander Glazunov- Symphony No. 4 in Eb major
  • 8/30 Arthur Honeggar- Symphony No. 3 “Symphonie Liturgique”
  • 8/31 Roy Harris- Symphony No. 3
  • 9/1 Michael Haydn- Symphony No. 14 in Bb major
  • 9/2 Bohuslav Martinu- Symphony No. 6 “Fantaisies symphoniques”
  • 9/3 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 11 in D major
  • 9/4 Benjamin Britten- Symphony for Cello and Orchestra
  • 9/5 Arthur Honeggar- Symphony No. 1 in C major
  • 9/6 Humphrey Searle- Symphony No. 2
  • 9/7 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 103 in Eb major “Drumroll”
  • 9/8 Roy Harris- Symphony No. 6 “Gettysburg”
  • 9/9 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 5 in Bb major “Hague”
  • 9/10 Krzysztof Penderecki- Symphony No. 5 “Korean”
  • 9/11 Charles Ives- “Universe Symphony” (unfinished)
  • 9/12 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 3 in Eb major “First of May”
  • 9/13 William Grant Still- Symphony No. 3 “Sunday Symphony”
  • 9/14 Franz Berwald- Symphony No. 3 in C major “Singuliere”
  • 9/15 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 40 in F major
  • 9/16 Alexander Glazunov- Symphony No. 1 in E major “Slavonian”
  • 9/17 Luigi Boccherini- Symphony No. 1 in Bb major
  • 9/18 Gustav Holst- Symphony in F major “The Cotswolds”
  • 9/19 Max Bruch- Symphony No. 2 in F minor
  • 9/20 Hugo Alfven- Symphony No. 4 in C major
  • 9/21 Einojuhani Rautavaara- Symphony No. 1
  • 9/22 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 46 in B major
  • 9/23 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 21 in A major
  • 9/24 Luigi Boccherini- Symphony No. 13 in C major
  • 9/25 Howard Hanson- Symphony No. 7 “A Sea Symphony”
  • 9/26 Anton Bruckner- Symphony No. 1 in C minor
  • 9/27 Antonin Dvorak- Symphony No. 4 in D minor
  • 9/28 Tomas Marco- Symphony No. 4 “Espacio quebrado”
  • 9/29 Michael Haydn- Symphony No. 29 in D minor
  • 9/30 Edmund Rubbra- Symphony No. 5 in Bb major
  • 10/1 Carl Nielsen- Symphony No. 2 “The Four Temperaments”
  • 10/2 Robert Simpson- Symphony No. 3
  • 10/3 Harold Shapero- Symphony for Classical Orchestra
  • 10/4 Dan Locklair- Symphony of Seasons
  • 10/5 Johann Christian Bach- Symphony No. 15 in F major
  • 10/6 Luigi Boccherini- Symphony No. 15 in D minor
  • 10/7 Alexander Glazunov- Symphony No. 2 in F# minor “To the Memory of Liszt”
  • 10/8 Roy Harris- Symphony No. 2
  • 10/9 Morton Gould- Symphony No. 3
  • 10/10 Arthur Meulemans- Symphony No. 3 “Dennensymfonie”
  • 10/11 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 8 in D major
  • 10/12 Sergei Taneyev- Symphony No. 4 in C minor
  • 10/13 Bohuslav Martinu- Symphony No. 2
  • 10/14 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 51 in Bb major
  • 10/15 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony in A minor “Odense”
  • 10/16 Havergal Brian- Symphony No. 20 in C# minor
  • 10/17 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 13 in Bb minor “Babi Yar”
  • 10/18 Alexander Scriabin- Symphony No. 2 in C minor
  • 10/19 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 92 in G major “Oxford”
  • 10/20 Franz Berwald- Symphony No. 4 in Eb major “Naive”
  • 10/21 Carl Nielsen- Symphony No. 3 “Sinfonia Espansiva”
  • 10/22 Michael Haydn- Symphony No. 19 in D major
  • 10/23 Nikolai Miaskovsky- Symphony No. 5 in D major
  • 10/24 Luigi Boccherini- Symphony No. 16 in A major
  • 10/25 Roy Harris- Symphony No. 4 “Folksong Symphony”
  • 10/26 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 1 in Eb major
  • 10/27 Kurt Atterburg- Symphony No. 6 in C major “Dollar Symphony”
  • 10/28 Ferdinand Ries- Symphony No. 7 in A minor
  • 10/29 Malcolm Arnold- Symphony No. 3
  • 10/30 Howard Hanson- Symphony No. 5 “Sinfonia sacra”
  • 10/31 Eduard Tubin- Symphony No. 10
  • 11/1 George Antheil- Symphony No. 6 “After Delacroix”
  • 11/2 Franz Joseph Haydn- “The Miracle Symphony”
  • 11/3 Edmund Rubbra- Symphony No. 3
  • 11/4 Bohuslav Martinu- Symphony No. 1
  • 11/5 Johan Severin Svendsen- Symphony No. 2 in Bb major
  • 11/6 Carl Stamitz- Symphony in D minor
  • 11/7 Mily Balakirev- Symphony No. 2 in D minor
  • 11/8 Richard Wetz- Symphony No. 1 in C minor
  • 11/9 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 4 in D major
  • 11/10 Roger Sessions- Symphony No. 1 in E minor
  • 11/11 Einojuhani Rautavaara- Symphony No. 2
  • 11/12 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 22 in Eb major “The Philosopher”
  • 11/13 Anton Bruckner- Symphony No. 3 in D minor “Wagner Symphony”
  • 11/14 Camille Saint-Saens- Symphony in A major
  • 11/15 Richard Wetz- Symphony No. 2 in A major
  • 11/16 Alexander Scriabin- “The Poem of Ecstasy”
  • 11/17 Havergal Brian- Symphony No. 11
  • 11/18 Elliot Carter- “A Symphony of Three Orchestras”
  • 11/19 William Schuman- Symphony No. 6
  • 11/20 Michael Haydn- Symphony No. 24 in A major
  • 11/21 Leopold Mozart- Symphony in Bb major
  • 11/22 Hector Berlioz- “Grande symphonie funebre et triomphale”
  • 11/23 Georges Bizet- “Roma Symphony”
  • 11/24 Sergei Prokofiev- “Symphony-Concerto for Cello and Orchestra”
  • 11/25 Roy Harris- Symphony No. 7
  • 11/26 Richard Strauss- Symphony in D minor
  • 11/27 Krzysztof Penderecki- Symphony No. 7 “Seven Gates of Jerusalem”
  • 11/28 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 22 in C major
  • 11/29 Alan Hovhaness- Symphony No. 2 “Mysterious Mountain”
  • 11/30 Alan Hovhaness- Symphony No. 22 “City of Light”
  • 12/1 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 99 in Eb major
  • 12/2 Arvo Pärt- Symphony No. 1 “Polyphonic”
  • 12/3 Havergal Brian- Symphony No. 2 in E minor
  • 12/4 Arthur Honeggar- Symphony No. 5 in D major “Di tre re”
  • 12/5 Paul Hindemith- “Symphony: Mathis der Maler”
  • 12/6 Sir Michael Tippett- Symphony No. 2
  • 12/7 Alan Hovhaness- Symphony No. 1 “Exile”
  • 12/8 Sergei Taneyev- Symphony No. 2 in Bb major
  • 12/9 Einojuhani Rautavaara- Symphony No. 6 “Vincentiana”
  • 12/10 Anton Bruckner- Symphony No. 2 in C minor
  • 12/11 Joachim Raff- Symphony No. 3 in F major “Im Walde”
  • 12/12 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- Symphony No. 27 in G major
  • 12/13 Bohuslav Martinu- Symphony No. 3
  • 12/14 Arnold Shoenberg- Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major
  • 12/15 Nikolai Miaskovsky- Symphony No. 9 in E minor
  • 12/16 Richard Wetz- Symphony No. 3 in Bb major
  • 12/17 Arvo Pärt- Symphony No. 3
  • 12/18 Joachim Raff- Symphony No. 11 in A minor “Der Winter”
  • 12/19 Anton Bruckner- Symphony No. 6 in A major
  • 12/20 William Alwyn- Symphony No. 5 “Hydriotaphia”
  • 12/21 Peter Maxwell Davies- Symphony No. 1
  • 12/22 Franz Joseph Haydn- Symphony No. 93 in D major
  • 12/23 Paul Hindemith- Symphony in Bb major for Concert Band
  • 12/24 Krzyzstof Penderecki- Symphony No. 2 “Christmas Symphony”
  • 12/25 Einojuhani Rautavaara- Symphony No. 5
  • 12/26 Alan Hovhaness- Symphony No. 7 “Nanga Parvat”
  • 12/27 Havergal Brian- Symphony No. 12
  • 12/28 Malcolm Arnold- Symphony No. 7
  • 12/29 Joachim Raff- Symphony No. 2 in C major
  • 12/30 Paul Dukas- Symphony in C
  • 12/31 Dmitri Shostakovich- Symphony No. 14
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88: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 Little Russian

The symphony takes its name from the use of Ukrainian Folk Songs; Ukraine often referred to as Little Russia in Tchaikovsky’s day. Tchaikovsky wrote most of his second symphony while staying with his sister’s family in Kamianka, Ukraine. He finished it in 1872, but made several revisions over the years.

The symphony was well received by the public, and even by “The Five”. “The Five”, also known as “The Mighty Handful” was a group of five nationalistic Russian composers who sought to write pure Russian music. They often criticized Tchaikovsky for being influenced by Western music and looked down on him and others for their classical training and connections in society.

The five was made up of Mily Balakirev, Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Alexander Borodin. Tchaikovsky would occasionally work with members of The Five over the years, but the two parties would never quite see eye to eye.

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89: Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 “Lobgesang”

The printing press was invented by German inventor Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. For the first time, men could mass produce the written word. No longer were all books and Bibles tediously copied by the hands of monks and scribes. Knowledge and education spread like a virus across the world. Henry David Thoreau  said “Before printing was discovered, a century was equal to a thousand years.” Since it’s invention , technology has snowballed as we progress more and more rapidly.

400 years later in 1840, German composer Felix Mendelssohn wrote Lobgesang or Hymn of Praise in commemoration of Gutenberg’s invention that changed the world forever. Mendelssohn was one of the most well known composers in the Western world at the time. He was living in Leipzig conducting the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and doing his best to improve the musical culture of the city. He sparked renewed interest in composers such as Franz Schubert and Bach. That same year Friedrich Wilhelm IV took the throne of Prussia and sought out Mendelssohn to make similar musical reforms in Berlin, which Mendelssohn did when his obligations in Leipzig allowed.

Mendelssohn saw the invention of printing as a triumph of the human spirit. He also saw it as a religious victory and so turned to the Bible for the choral passages of his cantata symphony. It was first performed at St. Thomas’s Church in Leipzig in 1840 and was also performed in English at the Birmingham Music Festival. Although written after most of his other symphonies, it would be published as his Second.

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90: Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4 “The Inextinguishable”

Our second Nielsen symphony on the list is another symphony about conflict and struggle. Nielsen’s Fifth symphony was written in the aftermath of World War I; his Fourth would be written in the midst of it. The idea for the symphony began forming in his head in early 1914 and in May, just a few months before the start of the war, he wrote a brief synopsis to his wife Anne Marie.

“I have an idea for a new composition, which has no programme but will express what we understand by the spirit of life or manifestations of life, that is: everything that moves, that wants to live … just life and motion, though varied – very varied – yet connected, and as if constantly on the move, in one big movement or stream. I must have a word or a short title to express this; that will be enough. I cannot quite explain what I want, but what I want is good.”

The title Nielsen was searching for would turn out to be uudslukkelige, or The Inextinguishable as it has been translated; a metaphysical, primordial will to live inherent in all living things; a quality many probably feared humanity would lose in its self-destruction. Nielsen finished the piece in early 1916. It premiered in February around the time British and Ottoman Empire forces clashed in present-day Iraq, German zeppelins were bombing Paris, and Austria-Hungary was fighting Montenegro in the Battle of Mojkovac. The piece is similar to the Fifth in many regards. They are both heavy with conflict. They both use percussion to express the conflict (the snare drum in the Fifth, the two opposing Timpani in the Fourth). But while the Fifth symphony is about equally matched opposing forces, the Fourth represents something that is always fighting; that can be beaten down but never destroyed. It was a message from Nielsen that the war would not last forever, and one day the fields scorched brown by the war would be green again. Even if man one day destroys himself, Life itself is outside our control, and Inextinguishable. 

 

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91: Nielsen’s Symphony No. 5

Carl Nielsen began writing his fifth symphony in 1920 in the aftermath of World War I. He says he was not consciously thinking of the war when he wrote it, but “not one of us is the same as we were before the war”.

World War I changed the world forever. It rearranged borders and redistributed wealth. It uprooted old ways of thinking and gave birth to new philosophies.  Despite spending the war in neutral Denmark, the magnitude of the war was inescapable. Nielsen’s symphony is a symphony about conflict. Conflict between light and dark, good and evil, order and chaos. Besides the universal consciousness of these themes created by the war Nielsen was also going through a time of conflict in his personal life. Stresses in his competitive career called him away from home much of the time, and a number of infidelities had began creating a rift between he and his wife Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen.

It was in this context that Nielsen wrote his turbulent and aggressive symphony; a very modern piece for it’s time that saw several audience members walk out at the premier. The idea of conflict is present throughout by use of competing themes. It is most obvious towards the end of the first movement when the snare drum begins to play loudly at a quicker tempo than the rest of the orchestra. Nielsen intended for the drummer to improvise and instructed him to play “as if at all costs he wants to stop the progress of the orchestra”. The snare eventually melds with the rest of the orchestra and the climax devolves into peaceful quiet.

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92: Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4

In 1935 Joseph Stalin was shaping Soviet Russia into a new world. Russia was still largely agrarian, uneducated, and backward. He feared the Western nations and was determined to catch up to them. He began industrializing the nation at an incredible rate. Factories were popping up everywhere. Agricultural tools and methods were being updated. The people were encouraged to keep physically fit and take part in the new forms of entertainment available to them through music, theater, and film. The quality of life was improving and national pride was increasing.

Stalin was turning Russia into a superpower, but his great success was costly. The building of factories and the working of farms required labor. The cheapest labor available to Stalin were prisoners. Thousands of people were arrested for small crimes. People were disappearing daily. Stalin was merciless as he worked to gain as much control as he could. The government was purged of anyone he saw as a threat, and people at all levels were arrested and executed. It became the norm to discuss who had recently been arrested and who had recently been shot.

It was in this atmosphere of fear that Dmitri Shostakovich began writing his fourth symphony. He had recently completed a number of works that were bringing him international attention, the most popular; his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mensk District. Shostakovich was at the height of his fame and the Soviets loved having such a young, talented composer representing Russia. That is until Stalin decided to hear the music everyone was talking about.

Stalin attended a performance of Shostakovich’s opera in January of 1936 and walked out before it ended. A few days later on the 28th, Pravda, the official newspaper of the communist party, released and article entitled “Chaos Instead of Music”. The article attacked Shostakovich and decried his music. You can read a translated version of the article here.

At the time of the article Shostakovich had written the first two movements of his latest symphony. He finished the third movement and defiantly began rehearsals for the piece’s premiere scheduled for December 1936. However, after a number of rehearsals a representative from the composers union accompanied by a dignitary from Communist Party Headquarters showed up at the music hall to speak with Shostakovich. He withdrew the symphony shortly after this meeting. It is rumored that he was asked to withdraw it willingly or else “administrative measures” would be taken.

Shostakovich had to wait 25 years to hear his symphony. The score was lost during WWII, but eventually resurfaced in the Leningrad archives. It was premiered on December 30, 1961 by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kyrill Kondrashin and was well received by both Soviet and Western critics.

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93: Sibelius’s Symphony No. 6

Jean Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony was completed in early 1923. While Sibelius did not indicate a key in the score it is often given the key of D minor, which is the saddest of all keys, I find. I don’t know why but people weep instantly when they hear it.

Sibelius wrote this piece during a quieter time in Finnish history in which Finland was experiencing peace after several years of major conflicts and changes. Beginning in 1917 with the Soviet Revolution in Russia, the Finnish people were forging their own national identity. Having been under control of the Tsar since 1809 Finland saw their opportunity for freedom and declared independence on December 6, 1917. After dealing with the Soviets, Finland spent a brief time in civil war between the Communist Reds controlling southern Finland and Helsinki, and the White Anti-Socialist Government in exile. The Whites with the help of Imperial Germany were decidedly victorious and a presidential republic was formed. While the main conflicts were over animosity between these two political parties would continue for several years.

I feel this piece reflects the mood of both Finland and the composer. It is largely pastoral; inspired by nature. Finland is finally experiencing peace and unity after years of struggles. Sibelius had also been affected by the years of war. They had depressed him as well as shutting off major channels of income from outside Finland. With the end of World War I and the civil war, Sibelius was beginning to reconstruct relations abroad. The years leading up to the premiere of the sixth also saw many personal struggles for Sibelius. He was coming out of a seven year abstinence from tobacco and alcohol after a close call with throat cancer. While he was no longer fearing death, he occasionally felt remorse after drinking. He suffered through bouts of depression during which he considered suicide, and in 1920 he lost his brother. You can sense the conflict in the music. Sibelius said “rage and passion” were “utterly essential” to the piece. But overall the piece sounds hopeful, perhaps a reflection of the future Sibelius saw for himself and his country. Unfortunately this peace would not last. A decade later Finland would again fight the Soviets in the Winter War; the first Finnish conflict of WWII.

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