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Thread: Looongest Opening Movements in Classical music

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    Senior Member peeyaj's Avatar
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    Cool Looongest Opening Movements in Classical music

    Schubert's D.960 sonata (Molto Moderato) clocks at 21 minutes, with Richter's notorious performance at 25+ minutes, including all repeats. The opening movement of Schuber's String Quintet is 20+ minutes, depending if the repeats were observed, while his String Quartet no. 15 is even longer!

    Mahler and Bruckner have huge opening movements too.. Is that "heavenly length"?

    Post some of the loooonnggeest movements in this thread. Do you like them?

    Schubert manages that most supreme of feats, to be melancholy without being maudlin, his pain is not a mockery of pain but truly heartfelt, and he manages to pass that though with all of its complexities in his music.

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    Mahler's 3rd symphony has a first movement which is over thirty minutes long, longer than virtually any entire individual symphony by Haydn or Mozart . Unless it's the Mozart Jupiter symphony,no 41 symphony with all the repeats, something rarely done .

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    Quote Originally Posted by peeyaj View Post

    Mahler and Bruckner have huge opening movements too.. Is that "heavenly length"?

    You bet'cha!

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    Inactive Carpenoctem's Avatar
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    1st movement of Beethoven's Violin Concerto is around 23 minutes long.

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    The opening to Ives' second piano sonata is around 17 minutes, and the first movement of Schnittke's Symphony No. 1 is around 25 minutes long.

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    Senior Member powerbooks's Avatar
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    Well, think of the Ring cycle as a whole opera drams, its opening Das Rhinegold takes a whole night, 150 min more or less.

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    Senior Member Ramako's Avatar
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    The opening movement of Sibelius's 7th symphony is about 25 minutes long.

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    Senior Member Jeremy Marchant's Avatar
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    This is a very interesting question – particularly if you expand it to ‘what are the longest, through-composed continuous pieces of music?’

    So, the last movement of Mahler 6, at around 30 minutes, is more than the equal of the first movement of his third; the sixth and final movement of Brian’s Gothic symphony clocks in at, at least, 35 minutes.

    Ballets and operas, by virtue of their being one thing after another, don’t count as continuous music. I am minded not to consider works whose movements are merely played attacca, nor even works which are sectional but played without a break, like Pettersson 7. The absence of a pause between sections/movements does not constitute continuity.

    It’s like people who argue that that the last chapter of Joyce’s Ulysses is one sentence (many pages) on the grounds that there aren’t any full stops. No, it’s many sentences that don’t have any punctuation.

    I’d also reject for these purposes all the process music which could basically go on forever: the poverty of invention nullifies inclusion as real music however much one enjoys it.

    So there are individual acts of operas which play continuously – though there the structure is largely imposed by the libretto and the action, so I would count them as rather less strongly structured than, say, Mahler 6 iv.

    Although Stockhausen’s Hymnen (at around 100 minutes) has a lot of events in it, the compositional arc is sufficiently strong that it feels a unified work to me.
    Last edited by Jeremy Marchant; Aug-19-2012 at 23:10. Reason: typos

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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Opening movement of Liszt's A Faust Symphony goes for around half an hour.

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    Senior Member waldvogel's Avatar
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    Back in the LP days the only first movement which couldn't be contained on one side of an LP that I owned was the first movement to Mahler's Third Symphony. This was actually a fortunate occurrence, because the movement ended with a long fortissimo, which would have sounded awful if crammed into one side and confined to the innermost grooves of the record.

    Interestingly enough, all of the long Strauss tone poems (Also Sprach Zarathustra, Don Quixote, Ein Heldenleben, Alpensymphonie) that I own have the CD divided at the points where Strauss puts in a new title, presumably so that you can listen to the part where Don Quixote fights the windmill or where the Hero meets his love. This, of course, never happened on the LP versions, since the music is through-composed without breaks. Using this as an example would probably make the Alpensymphonie about 50 minutes long in reality.

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    Moderator Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramako View Post
    The opening movement of Sibelius's 7th symphony is about 25 minutes long.
    Isn't that the whole symphony? I heard this symphony performed live, and it's a continuous symphony (no breaks) but I believe that's just how long the whole thing is, 25 min.

    Tchaikovsky's 1st movements for symphonic works are very long. For the Piano Concerto No. 1 and Violin Concerto, they are both over 20 min long. Also, the 4th Symphony's 1st mvmt. is about 20 min.

    And Scriabin's Symphony No. 3 has a 24 min 1st mvmt.
    Last edited by Huilunsoittaja; Aug-19-2012 at 23:40.
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    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
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    Ordering my iTunes library by length:

    6th Movement of Brian's Gothic Symphony: 35 mins 42
    1st Movement of Mahler's Third: 33 mins 30
    4th Movement of Mahler's Sixth: 32 mins 48
    Rautavaara's 5th Symphony (single movement): 31 mins 46
    1st Movement of Liszt's Faust Symphony: 30 mins 53
    1st Movement of Shostakovich's Seventh: 28 mins 57
    1st Movement of Mahler's Ninth: 26 mins 50
    Weill's First Symphony (single movement): 26 mins 50
    1st Movement of Gorecki's Third: 26 mins 47
    1st Movement of Shostakovich's Eighth: 25 mins 55
    1st Movement of Scriabin's Third: 25 mins 46

    There are also some noteworthy non-symphonic works in single movements in the list:

    Glass: Music with changing parts (61mins 41)
    Schoenberg: Pelleas und Melisande (40 mins 20)
    Schoenberg: Verklarte Nacht (31 mins 1)
    Mahler: Der Abschied from Das Lied von der Erde (29 mins 33)

    This is only stuff that I have in iTunes. I think there is a single movement string quartet by Morton Feldman that is extremely long and probably something very long by Sorabji. Going to the level of ridiculous, however, there is Vexations by Satie and As Slow as Possible by Cage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crmoorhead View Post
    1st Movement of Shostakovich's Seventh: 28 mins 57
    1st Movement of Shostakovich's Eighth: 25 mins 55
    Forgot about those ones.
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    Senior Member Cnote11's Avatar
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    Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1

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    tchakovsky symphony 4-19 minutes
    elgar symphony 1-19minutes or more
    beethoven symphony 3-18 minutes
    dvorak symphony 2-18 minutes
    schubert string quintet-like 20 minutes.

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