The Best Symphonies

A symphony is a large-scale work for orchestra, usually in three or four movements, although some symphonies have more than four movements, and some symphonies have two movements, or are in one movement. Symphonies can be as short as 10 or 15 minutes, or as long as an hour or more in length. For many composers, the symphony was and is the ultimate form of musical expression. I have included my choices for my favorite symphonies of the classical, romantic and modern periods. While some of these symphonies may not suit your musical tastes, I guarantee that some will.

The Classical Period

Haydn
     no. 104,"London"
Mozart
     no. 40 and 41
Beethoven
     no. 3, "Eroica"
     no. 5
     no. 6, "Pastoral"
     no. 9
Schubert
     no. 8, "Unfinished"
     no. 9, "Great"

The Romantic Period

Berlioz
     Symphonie Fantastique
Mendelssohn
     no. 3, "Scottish"
     no. 4, "Italian"
Franck
     Symphony
Bruckner
     no. 4, "Romantic"
     no. 8 and 9
Brahms
     no. 1, 2, 3, and 4
Tchaikovsky
     no. 4, 5
     no. 6, "Pathetique"
Dvorak
     no. 8
     no. 9, "New World"
Mahler
     no. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10
Carl Nielsen
     no. 4 and 5
Sibelius
     no. 4, 5, 6, and 7
Rachmaninoff
     no. 2

20th and 21st Century Composers

Vaughan Williams
     no. 3, 4 and 5
Charles Ives
     no. 2 and 4
Havergal Brian
     no. 1, "Gothic"
Webern
     Symphony
Matthijs Vermeulen
     no. 1 and 2
Prokofiev
     no. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7
Rued Langgaard
     no. 1, 4, 5, and 6
Hindemith
     Mathis der Maler
Shostakovich
     no. 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, and 14
Messiaen
     Turangalila
Vagn Holmboe
     no. 8, "Sinfonia Boreale"
Alan Hovhaness
     no. 2, "Mysterious Mountain"
Allan Pettersson
     no. 6, 7, 8, and 15
Panufnik
     no. 9 and 10
Robert Simpson
     no. 5 and 9
Einojuhani Rautavaara
     nos. 1, 3, and 7
Per Norgard
     no. 3, and 7
Schnittke
     no. 2, 3, 5, and 8
Henryk Gorecki
     no. 3, "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs"

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2 comments:

Mu sic said...

A great article detailing some popular symphonies.
Although, whether or not they are the 'best' may be a matter of subjective opinion.

musictheoryhelp.co.uk

Eric Strom said...

Thank you for this list of symphonies! It gives me some good ones to check out. I appreciate it. Great site BTW.

Eric Strom