Main Period: Classical, Romantic













Berlioz with his poor orchestra players - a caricature from 1846, Bibliotheque de l'Opera, Paris
An orchestral work whose movements are written in the sonata form. The name's origin is Greek, and it means "sounding together". The most important composers in the last three centuries wrote symphonies that were the height of artistic creation. Haydn was considered the father of symphony, and composed 104 symphonies1st movement from Symphony No.7 'Midi' - Haydn, in which he set its character and at the same time experimented and improved symphonic orchestration and dynamics. Among his main works is the well-known "Surprise Symphony"Haydn - Surprise Symphony, in which Haydn startles listeners during the otherwise quiet second movement, and the "Military Symphony", that incorporates parade music. Mozart also composed many symphonies, and the most famous ones are the Symphony no. 401st movement (Molto Allegro) from Symphony No.40 in Gm, K.550 - Mozart, and Symphony no. 411st movement (Allegro vivace) from Symphony No. 41 in C, K.551 'Jupiter' - Mozart, also known as "Jupiter". Beethoven was the one who took the symphony to the highest level of musical composition. In his own works he brought, to a peak, the combination between sophistication and technique with melodic, harmonic and dynamic abundance; all these, together with the expression of human emotions of a sensitive, tormented composer, who painted his inner world and sensations into music. No wonder, that after him, a period in which the symphony was the center of personal expression started - the Romantic age. Beethoven's nine symphonies are considered the summit of symphonic writing: the all-famous 5th SymphonyFirst part (Allegro con brio) from Symphony No.5 in Cm, Op.67 - BeethovenSymphony No.5 - Beethoven, the "Pastoral" 6th Symphony1st movement from Symphony No. 6 in F Opus 68, 'Pastoral' - Beethoven, reflecting his love for nature, is one of the first program works in history of western music. But Beethoven's most important is the 9th Symphony'Ode to Joy' from Symphony No.9 in D- 'Choral', Op.125 - BeethovenFrom Symphony No.9 - Beethoven, where, for the first time in history, a composer introduced a choir and solo singers into the most instrumental form of all.
In the Romantic period, every composer adapted the symphony to his own needs. Concerto for solo instrument and orchestra and the descriptional "symphonic poem" are the outcomes of symphony, and form in symphony itself was less strict than before. In his "Unfinished" Symphony1st movement from Symphony No.8 'Unfinished' D849 - Schubert, Schubert presents a less conventional structure. Mendelssohn, in his "Scottish" and "Italian" symphonies, includes descriptions of his travels to these countries, along with the conventional form. Brahms held the standard of classic symphony, and was considered Beethoven's ultimate successor. Many others designed symphonic sound in new ways and expressed ideas, such as the unity of man and universe (Mahler) and integration of folk music into symphonic music (Dvorák's 9th Symphony, "From the New World"Movement 4 from Symphony no. 9 'From the New World' in Em, Op.95 - Dvorak). The number of orchestral instruments in their work continuously grew. Mahler demanded that Symphony no. 8, "The Thousand Symphony" would be played by a thousand players and choir singers.
Emotional expression in Romantic symphony is one of the important causes for the audience's love for symphonies, and pieces such as Tchaikovsky's 6th, the "Pathetic", and Schubert's 4th, "the Tragic", emphasise how intensely the artist's sensation pored into his music. In the 20th century, the symphony lost much of its appeal compared to past centuries, yet it is still a common form of expression for Shostakovich, Hindemith and Stravinsky ("Psalms" Symphony).

Examples of symphony parts

Beethoven's 5th Symphony (Part 1)
Schubert 'Unfinished' Symphony (Part 1)
Mozart's 40th Symphony (Part 1)
Beethoven's 7th Symphony (Part 2)

Famous symphonies
Symphony No. 1 in D, "Titan" - Mahler (1888)
Symphonie fantastique Opus 14, 'An Episode in the life of an Artist' - Berlioz (1830)
þSymphony No. 6 in F Opus 68, "Pastoral" - Beethoven (1808)
Symphony No. 9, choral 'Hymn to Joy' in Dm, Opus 125 - Beethoven (1823)
Symphony No. 9 Op. 95, "From the New World" - Dvorák (1893)
Symphony No. 40 in G minor K550 - Mozart (1788)


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