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The world's shortest Symphonies

1775 Views 30 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  RobertJTh
You want to discover new and exciting symphonies but you don't feel like listening to pieces that claim 40-50 minutes of your precious time?
Here's your thread! Nothing over 15 minutes, promised! (Well, let's stretch it to 20 in some cases...)

  • Langgaard nos. 11 and 12 - 6 and 7 minutes, respectively. World record holders?
  • Webern (who else?) op. 21 - 9 minutes. That's long for Webern standards, though.
  • Brian nos. 12, 17, 22, 23, 31 - all under 14 minutes, no. 22 only 9 minutes.
  • Myaskovski nos. 10 and 21 - 17 and 18 minutes
  • Pfitzner no. 3 - 17 minutes, now there's a surprise.
  • Pijper (Dutch composer) no. 3 - 14 minutes
  • Gottschalk - no. 2 "A Montevideo" - 11 minutes (no. 1 isn't of gargantuan length either)

Who has more?
Oh yeah, pre-Beethoven stuff doesn't count. 馃構

EDIT: fixed the Brian listing, thanks @maestro267
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Ustvolskaya's fourth also clocks in under 7 minutes..
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Milhaud wrote 6 short symphonies between ca. 3.5 and 7 min. each.
There are probably quite a few around 15-20 min, K.A. Hartmann's 2nd Symphony "Adagio" is around 18 min.
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Brian 9 is around 25 minutes. It's No. 22 (subtitled "Sinfonia brevis") that is around 9 minutes.

Carlos Chavez's first two symphonies are around 10-12 minutes each.
Luis Humberto Salgado's Nos. 2 & 9 are around 12-14 minutes each
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Prokofiev 1 clocks in at around 15 minutes, great little piece
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William Boyce immediately comes to mind.
Some lesser known short modern symphonies:

Frederick Tillis Symphony In Three Movements (Nacirfa Nroh) 鈥 15 minutes
Nicolas Bacri Symphony No. 4 鈥 13 minutes and No. 6 - 12 minutes
Ester Magi Symphony No. 1 - 13 minutes
Elsa Barraine Symphonie No. 2 鈥 16 minutes
Janis Ivanovs Symphony No. 1 "Poem" 鈥 13 minutes
Ernest Pingoud Symphony No. 1 - 16 minutes
John Veale Symphony No. 1 - 14 minutes and No. 3 - 17 minutes
Don Gillis Symphony No. 10 鈥 13 minutes
Nicolai Rakov Symphony No. 3 鈥 11 minutes
Chary Nurymov Symphony No. 2 - 16 minutes
Eric DeLamarter Symphony No.1 - 16 minutes
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Also 9 minutes is Angelo Francesco Lavagninos Pocket Symphony: Link
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Uh ... John McCabe wrote one ... its title? - "Six-minute Symphony"! :)



Also:

Luc Brewaeys - Symphony No. 3 - 10:20
Carl Vine - MicroSymphony (get it?) - 10:47
Daniel Pinkham - Symphony No. 4 - 11:45
Josef Tal - Symphony No. 2 - 12:08
Luc Brewaeys - Symphony No. 2 - 13:42
Daniel Pinkham - Symphony No. 3 - 13:53
Aulis Sallinen - Symphony No. 1 - 14:25
Paul Uyttebrouck - Sinfonia Belgica - 14:48

These are my 'under-15' crowd; symphonies 15 minutes and longer accelerate in quantity thereafter.
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Obviously, Celibidache hasn't recorded any of them.
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Janacek Sinfonietta
  • Mikhail Glinka: Symphony on Two Russian Themes in D minor (edited by Vissarion Shebalin) - roughly 13 minutes
  • Myaskovsky: Symphony no. XIII - roughly 19-20 minutes
  • Shostakovich: Symphony no. II - roughly 18-20 minutes
  • Kabalevsky: Symphonies nos. I & III - about 19 minutes
  • Barber: Symphony no. I - roughly 18-21 minutes
  • Creston: Symphony no. II - about 20 minutes
  • Howard Hanson: Symphony no. V "Sinfonia Sacra" - about 15 minutes
  • Howard Hanson: Symphonies no. VI & VII - about 20 and 18 minutes respectively
  • David Diamond: Symphonies no. IV & VII - roughly 16 minutes
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Obviously, Celibidache hasn't recorded any of them.
Or Klemperer!
Or Klemperer!
Klemperer鈥檚 deceleration or relaxed pacing is largely a characteristic of his later (stereo) years and seems a function of the inevitable slowing of mind and body with advancing age, exacerbated in his case by the cumulative weight of his medical setbacks, which critic Harold Schonberg described as "a Job-like succession of misfortunes [and] blows that would have demolished a weaker person." For example, his Beethoven Seventh grew from a conventional 36 minutes in a 1951 Concertgebouw concert to 37陆 in 1955 with the RIAS, and then, with the Philharmonia, to 38陆 in his 1955 mono recording, 41陆 in a 1960 stereo version, 43 in a 1968 remake and 44陆 in a 1970 BBC concert. Klemperer's 1951 Missa Solemnis is remarkably fast paced 鈥 its 72 minutes would not be matched until the emergence of historically-informed readings a generation later. His Bruckner Fourth from the same period is perhaps the fastest of record at 51 minutes. Klemperer鈥檚 early mono recording of Mahler鈥檚 Das Lied comes in under 51 minutes (vs. 64 in his 1964 studio recording).
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Didn't Klemperer also once set himself on fire by smoking in bed...?
Klemperer's early 50s Mahler's 2nd is also among the fastest ever. In fact, even some of his 60s studio recordings are not very slow, e.g. the later Bruckner 4 and 7 are slower than ca. 15 years earlier but not slow per se.
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Some further ones, lasting 15 minutes or less:

Abrahamsen 1st Symphony (14)
Ades Chamber Symphony (15)
Andriessen 1st Symphony (13)
Copland Short Symphony (15-16)
Denisov 2nd Symphony (15)
Hovhaness 7th Symphony, for winds (14)
Hovhaness 14th Symphony, for winds (14)
Ibert Symphonie Marine (14-15)
Haydn Symphonies 1 (14), 2 (10), 9 (13), 14 (15), 16 (12), 17 (15), 18 (14), 19 (11), 20 (15), 25 (14), 26 (14), 27 (14), 30 (14), 37 (14) (=Fischer timings)
Hovhaness 53rd Symphony, for winds (14)
Klenau 5th Symphony (12)
Knussen 3rd Symphony (15)
Lokshin 5th Symphony (15)
Mendelssohn Symphonies for Strings nos.1-6, 10
Mozart Symphonies 1-5, 7-11,16, 22-24, 26, 32, 42-> (=Pinnock timings)
P盲rt 2nd Symphony (11)
Silvestrov 1st Symphony (15-17)
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Carlos Chavez : Symphony no 2 "Sinfonia India ", about 13 or 14 minutes long .
Honneger's symphonies easily fit on one side of an LP ( which is my defn, of a short symphy,)
Honneger's symphonies easily fit on one side of an LP ( which is my defn, of a short symphy,)
Well, we're going up to 30-35 minutes, then the list would include 1000s of symphonies ... :)

If we are to include all pre-1800 symphonies of say less than 15 minutes, there's no doubt a a ton too, most of it unrecorded.
And some of the Bach sons + names like Sammartini, Graupner, Molter, Pokorny, Cannabich, Benda, Vanhal etc. etc. would be included.
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