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Thread: Best Symphony Between Schumann 3 (1850) and Brahms 1 (1876)

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    Default Best Symphony Between Schumann 3 (1850) and Brahms 1 (1876)

    This seems to be a fallow period for the symphony, fascinating that there is this 25-year hole in the popular repertoire!

    If you were to nominate a symphony to represent the 1860s, which would it be?

    Trying to avoid the juvenilia of Tchaikovsky and Bruckner, the best candidate I can come up with is Raff's Symphony No. 3 (1869).

    Any other suggestions?

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    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    I'm not a big Tchaikovsky fan, but I feel his Symphony no. 1 beats anything written by Raff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldog View Post
    I'm not a big Tchaikovsky fan, but I feel his Symphony no. 1 beats anything written by Raff.
    I agree 100% (on both counts) but I am looking for a mature work.

    Raff was certainly popular in his day, so I suppose he represents the state of play in the 1860s quite well. Not as conservative at least as some of the others.

    Tchaikovsky does produce some magical effects, but he gets bogged down so quickly.
    Last edited by Ulfilas; Oct-30-2020 at 22:42.

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    Liszt, Faust Symphony (1854;1857); but I really like Bruckner and Tchaikovsky.

    some others are Dvorak Symphony no.1 (1865, I didn't consider it that interesting, but hearing the Kosler recording somehow recently changed my mind), Rimsky-Korsakov 2 "Antar" (1868, but exoticism and rather suite-like).
    Last edited by joen_cph; Oct-30-2020 at 22:45.

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    If confined to the 1860s, the three I play most often (in order of frequency) would be:

    1. Rimsky-Korsakov's Antar
    2. Raff's Third
    3. Sullivan's Irish (1866)

    If anything between 1850 and 1876 is allowed, then also Liszt's Faust, Gounod's two Symphonies (ca. 1855) and Bizet's Symphony (1855, definitely already a mature work in the sense in which Tchaikovsky's and Dvorak's Firsts are not!).

    Afterthought: Oh, and I also have a soft spot for Rubinstein's delightfully bloated Ocean Symphony (1851, later expanded).
    Last edited by gvn; Oct-30-2020 at 22:56.

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    I can only think of Liszt's Dante Symphony right now( finished in 1857).

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    Certainly this does seem to have been a "fallow period for the symphony," when one thinks of the riches that preceded and followed it.

    Maybe a bit like the present day? No new symphony has entered the popular repertoire since at least the 1970s, i.e., for about half a century.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gvn View Post
    Certainly this does seem to have been a "fallow period for the symphony," when one thinks of the riches that preceded and followed it.

    Maybe a bit like the present day? No new symphony has entered the popular repertoire since at least the 1970s, i.e., for about half a century.
    Gorecki's 3rd (1976) is quite popular, and a best-seller.

    Tons of symphonies are being composed these days, and they are very varied. On the contrary, the problem of that 19th-century period is lack of innovation, especially in hindsight, that is, as seen from my perspective at least.
    Some contemporary symphonies get performed all over the globe, but admittedly not very frequently - say some by Lutoslawski (nos.3+4), Penderecki ('Christmas´etc.), Adés (chamber symphonies), etc. Those pieces aren't really that 'difficult' or 'intimidating'. There is plenty of attractive or interesting repertoire to choose from.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Oct-30-2020 at 23:29.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gvn View Post
    Certainly this does seem to have been a "fallow period for the symphony," when one thinks of the riches that preceded and followed it.

    Maybe a bit like the present day? No new symphony has entered the popular repertoire since at least the 1970s, i.e., for about half a century.
    I think that depends on whether you consider John Adams' Harmonielehre and Naive and Sentimental Music, as I do, symphonies in all but name.

    I also think Lutoslawski's 3rd and 4th are masterpieces.

    Other than that, I would nominate three great works for the 70s: Shostakovich 15, Schuman 10, and Dutilleux's Timres, espace, mouvement
    Last edited by Ulfilas; Oct-30-2020 at 23:28.

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    No thanks to Wagner and Liszt, symphonies were unfashionable in the 1850s and 1860s. Thankfully Brahms knew better and understood the symphony is the apex form of musical expression.

    I would say it's one of these three:

    Bizet Symphony no.1 C 1855
    Raff Symphony no. 3 1868
    Borodin Symphony no. 2 (between 1869 and 1876)
    Last edited by TwoFlutesOneTrumpet; Oct-31-2020 at 00:25.

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    The first 3 Tchaikovsky symphonies are quite wonderful, and very substantial. I much prefer them to the much overwrought, overplayed 4 and 5. R-K "Antar" sym #2 is a lovely work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    The first 3 Tchaikovsky symphonies are quite wonderful, and very substantial. I much prefer them to the much overwrought, overplayed 4 and 5. R-K "Antar" sym #2 is a lovely work.
    Ah yes, "The Little Russian". I do quite like that symphony myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ulfilas View Post
    I think that depends on whether you consider John Adams' Harmonielehre and Naive and Sentimental Music, as I do, symphonies in all but name.

    I also think Lutoslawski's 3rd and 4th are masterpieces.

    Other than that, I would nominate three great works for the 70s: Shostakovich 15, Schuman 10, and Dutilleux's Timres, espace, mouvement
    I fully agree that symphonic masterpieces are still being composed, but for some reason they're no longer entering the popular repertoire, in the way that, when I was young, the latest symphonies by Prokofiev and Shostakovich, and the newly understood symphonies of Mahler, did. For that, as you say, we have to go back to the 1970s or earlier.

    Originally posed by joen_cph
    Gorecki's 3rd (1976) is quite popular, and a best-seller.

    Tons of symphonies are being composed these days, and they are very varied. On the contrary, the problem of that 19th-century period is lack of innovation, especially in hindsight, that is, as seen from my perspective at least.
    Some contemporary symphonies get performed all over the globe, but admittedly not very frequently - say some by Lutoslawski (nos.3+4), Penderecki ('Christmas´etc.), Adés (chamber symphonies), etc. Those pieces aren't really that 'difficult' or 'intimidating'. There is plenty of attractive or interesting repertoire to choose from.
    A couple of years ago I did a survey on Bachtrack, and the last symphony being regularly performed (all over the globe, and--to me--surprisingly often, was Shostakovich's Fifteenth [1975]). I looked specifically at the Gorecki, and sadly it was no longer being performed anywhere. It had the career of a pop album--sprang up suddenly, was a popular hit for a couple of years, then gradually faded from the general public's minds, so that the sight of it on someone's shelves now tends to date that person to a particular period!

    How I wish we could get Lutoslawski and Penderecki into the general repertoire! I don't understand why they (and quite a few others) haven't made it. To me they don't seem significantly different, in style & quality, from works that the concertgoing public has taken to its heart.

    So perhaps this is a different issue from the 1860s. At that time, perhaps the exciting new growth in music was happening in other fields, not very much in the symphony... until Brahms and Bruckner revived it, and then others followed in their wake.

    If so, what we need today is not a new Brahms or Bruckner to stimulate new growth. Rather, the new growth is already there, and we simply need someone to bring it to the world's attention somehow.
    Last edited by gvn; Oct-31-2020 at 01:18.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    The first 3 Tchaikovsky symphonies are quite wonderful, and very substantial. I much prefer them to the much overwrought, overplayed 4 and 5. R-K "Antar" sym #2 is a lovely work.
    Couldn't agree more. My favourite Tchaikovsky symphonies are the first two. Simple but amazing. Fell in love with them the first time i listened to them. I don't like his last three symphonies really though i've listened to to them so many times.

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    [QUOTE=TwoFlutesOneTrumpet;1948227]No thanks to Wagner and Liszt, symphonies were unfashionable in the 1850s and 1860s. Thankfully Brahms knew better and understood the symphony is the apex form of musical expression.
    Wagner was in awe of Beethoven's symphonies and wrote some overtures under their influence. But then thought no one can achieve what Ludwig van achieved with symphonies.

    "At this time I also wrote (as my third opus) an overture to Raupach's drama, Konig Enzio, in which again Beethoven's influence made itself even more strongly felt."

    "As regards style and design, this work was suggested by Beethoven's Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, and, so far as I can remember, I should have had no need to be ashamed of it, had I been able to complete it, or keep the part I had actually finished. But I had already begun at this time to form the opinion that, to produce anything fresh and truly noteworthy in the realm of symphony, and according to Beethoven's methods, was an impossibility. Whereas opera, to which I felt inwardly drawn, though I had no real example I wished to copy, presented itself to my mind in varied and alluring shapes as a most fascinating form of art. Thus, amid manifold and passionate agitations, and in the few leisure hours which were left to me, I completed the greater part of my operatic poem, taking infinitely more pains, both as regards words and versification, than with the text of my earlier Feen. Moreover, I found myself possessed of incomparably greater assurance in the arrangement and partial invention of situations than when writing that earlier work."

    This is part of what Wagner wrote after Ludwig van died. Link below
    http://www.the-wagnerian.com/2013/05...hoven.html?m=0

    Incidentally, we know that Wagner,after finishing Parsifal, wanted to write symphonies. He didn't and i don't know why. That's almost a tragedy for someone like me who loves Wagner.

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