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The Rise of the Concerto and the Fall of the Symphony in Britain


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Author Topic: The Rise of the Concerto and the Fall of the Symphony in Britain  (Read 986 times)
Dundonnell
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« on: November 17, 2012, 05:55:59 pm »

Right! Let me now try to get to the point of all this list-making.

It seems to me that as we progress into the 21st century the fears of many critics about the future of the Symphony are on the way to being realised. In the well-known book on the Symphony edited by Robert Layton the editor addressed the question of whether the symphony was on the road to extinction and commented on those composers still essaying the form.

In the years since that book was published(last edition 1995) the situation has not improved. Of the leading British symphonists, Arthur Butterworth is 89, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies 78, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett 76, John McCabe 73 and David Matthews 69. There are a few other composers who are clearly symphonists (including the indefatigable Derek Bourgeois) but they receive little attention or exposure. The slightly younger generation of respected composers-people like Robin Holloway or Colin Matthews-have avoided the symphony. Yes, there are considerably younger composers like Oliver Knussen or James MacMillan or John Pickard writing symphonies but that seems about it. The situation in most other countries in Western Europe appears to be similar. Only in Finland or the Baltic countries does the symphony still appear to be a form of choice for younger composers.

Why are composers apparently reluctant to write symphonies? Why is the form no longer so popular? Several theories have been propounded.

Yet…at the same time the Concerto form has bloomed and blossomed. From a time in the late 19th century when composers, by and large, wrote concertos for the piano, the violin and the cello, as the 20th century progressed composers have written concertos for every instrument of the conventional orchestra and for instruments not normally to be found within it.

Stanford’s Clarinet Concerto(1902) appears to be the first major work written for an instrument outside the string family. It had been preceded by what is, I think, the first British Viola Concerto-McEwen’s of 1900. Yet, though the McEwen was followed within a few years by further concertos for the Viola by Cecil Forsyth(1903) and York Bowen(1905-07), the only Viola Concertos of any real note between then and the Second World War are those by Walton in 1927 and by Gordon Jacob(who made a profession of writing concertos for just about every instrument!) in 1925(No.1). The Double Bass had to wait until as recently as the 1970s before a composer of any real note tried his hand at writing a concerto for the instrument.

Concertos for wind instruments followed-but only slowly. Before 1939 only Alan Rawsthorne(1936-37) came up with a Clarinet Concerto to follow the earlier Stanford.
A pioneer of the concerto was, remarkably, Rutland Boughton. Boughton wrote the first substantial Flute Concerto in 1937 and indeed there does not seem to have been any real successor until the 1950s when the Arnold 1st, the Berkeley and the Jacob 1st enter the lists.

The Oboe seems to have been preferred to the Flute and the Clarinet by composers trying their hands at the wind concerto format. Again, Rutland Boughton was a pioneer with two Oboe Concertos in the mid 1930s but in fact this time Boughton had been preceded by two composers who produced Oboe Concertos in the 1920s-Cecil Armstrong Gibbs in 1923 and Eugene Goossens in 1927-29. (Not surprisingly, the first Gordon Jacob Oboe Concerto also dates from the 1930s).

Apart from the barely-remembered Eric Fogg’s effort of 1931 there does not appear to have been any Bassoon Concerto of note until after 1945 and the Cor Anglais has been almost totally ignored by composers of concertos.

The Trumpet has fared somewhat better at the hands of British composers but, again, it seems that we owe Rutland Boughton in 1943 one of the very first such concertos.

I could go on at length but the lists are reasonably self-evident in identifying the progression of more and more concertos being written from the 1950s onwards and particularly in the last three decades of the 20th century for an ever-widening group of musical instruments. I would just add though the dearth of concertos for the Harp and the number of interesting Organ Concertos written by British composers which no company has thought fit to record.

As the great British choral tradition passed into history, as fewer composers were commissioned by the great British Music Festivals which flourished in the decades before the First World War to write Oratorios and Cantatas, as financial constraints made such pieces increasingly difficult to programme and perform composers have become more adventurous in combining the orchestra and a solo instrument (or, indeed, combination of solo instruments). But-as this has developed-the symphony is shunned as if composers were frightened of the form or no longer considered it relevant.

This has been written very much, obviously, from a British point of view because I am more familiar with the British musical scene. There may be symphonies being written in France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands in profusion (although I doubt it) but if so they are making very little impression on our general musical consciousness as determined(dictated?) by whether or not they are being recorded.

I also realise that I am setting myself for a critical pounding from those more knowledgeable and erudite than myself…..but, at least, I am trying to understand.


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ahinton
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2012, 08:43:04 pm »

This is all very interesting - fascinating and engaging, in fact - but Robin Holloway has written one symphony that he calls a symphony (as has the younger Julian Anderson who was a student of his) and, arguably, his five (to date) concertos for orchestra are effectively symphonies in all but name.

I don't think that there is quite the problem with "the fall of the symphony" in Britain as you put forward, even though there would appear to be fewer and farther between pieces called "symphony" from leading and widely performed composers in Britain or indeed elsewhere today. For the record, David Matthews has gently "accused" me of not yet writing a symphony but, flattering as that is, coming from a real symphonist, I simply do not feel confident to write a piece to which I can reasonably give that title; it's a very daunting prospect for those who care about the past, present and future of the symphony (I have written a 40-minue four-movement symphony actually, but I've banged the four movements together into one, crammed it down into the smallest possible space and time and called the resultant 10-minute piece "Sinfonietta", yet even giving it that title gave me many days of agony before committing myself to it!)...
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2012, 11:03:29 pm »

Thank you, Alistair Smiley

I DO beg Robin Holloway's pardon Embarrassed He has indeed written a monumental Symphony, an hour-long piece, composed in 1998-99 for the 2000 Proms. The critic in the "Sunday Telegraph" wrote "A recording soon, please!" We are still waiting Sad

But I do have to make the point that this is Holloway's solitary named orchestral Symphony and though the critics playfully joshed him that his (even-longer) Fourth Concerto for Orchestra was, in fact, his Symphony No.2 Holloway resisted the use of the word.

This-it seems to me-is indicative of a tremendous weight of historical legacy bearing down on the shoulders of contemporary composers which, frankly, intimidates them from using the word. It cannot, surely, be the Simpsonian dictum that a "symphony" is "not a symphony" unless it follows classical symphonic development. That prerequisite has surely been discarded now by so many composers over the years that if a composer choses to call a work a "symphony" then most of us are perfectly content to live with that description. As you yourself write "it is a very daunting prospect"......unless, of course, your name happens to be either Derek Bourgeois or Philip Glass Grin Grin

Anyway....all I am trying to do is to provoke discussion so thank you for your interesting contribution Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2012, 11:36:39 pm »

. . .  there would appear to be fewer and farther between pieces called "symphony" from leading and widely performed composers . . .

This connects with what I have (often enough) said about the rise in recent decades of the cult of the "silly name" and the modernists' terror before the idea of absolute music.

- And I see that what Mr. D has just written about "intimidation" and "daunting prospects" fits in as well!

Is not the silly name fundamentally a kind of "cop out"?

Weingartner already had a lot to say about this phenomenon, in his discussions of the historical standing of Liszt's music. It all boils down to the frequency and placement of modulations, doesn't it.
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jimfin
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 01:12:21 am »

I think that there is certainly something in what you say, but it might be worth bearing in mind that many many composers wait until the age of forty of fifty before writing a symphony, so until they are sixty it is unlikely that we are going to be able to spot them as symphonists. Elgar and Havergal Brian were over fifty before they wrote their first real symphonies; Bax and Vaughan Williams were completely against the notion of writing symphonies when they were young, yet ended up writing a large number. So there may be grounds for hope.
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ahinton
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 09:41:52 pm »

. . .  there would appear to be fewer and farther between pieces called "symphony" from leading and widely performed composers . . .

This connects with what I have (often enough) said about the rise in recent decades of the cult of the "silly name" and the modernists' terror before the idea of absolute music.

- And I see that what Mr. D has just written about "intimidation" and "daunting prospects" fits in as well!

Is not the silly name fundamentally a kind of "cop out"?

Weingartner already had a lot to say about this phenomenon, in his discussions of the historical standing of Liszt's music. It all boils down to the frequency and placement of modulations, doesn't it.

I cannot answer the last of your statements here but I don't think that, whatever anyone might think of what you call "the cult of the "silly name" really has any informative bearing on what might in the present context be termed the symphony - v. - concerto argument (insofar as it even might be thought of as an "argument"). Sorabji, incidentally, has a wonderful and wonderfully brief chapter in his Mi Contra Fa: The Immoralisings of a Machivellian Musician entitled When is a Concerto not a Concerto?, but it explores (in its brief sojourn) a quite different phenomenon to that which we are confronting here; the thrust behind Sorabji's barb-ridden argument is a certain piece by Richard Addinsell and the argument itself concerns the notion of writing a piece of film music that seeks to ape certain characteristics of a Rachmaninov piano concerto (and it might be worth bearing in mind that Rachmaninov had himself been asked to contribute music for the film concerned, Dangerous Moonlight and most wisely and mercifully declined to oblige); by the way, Addinsell didn't even orchestra his own work here, leaving that responsibility instead to a (Richard) Roy Douglas who was born almost a year before Elliott Carter and is, as far as I know, still alive. Anyway, enough of that! "Silly names" don't enter into any argument into the "symphony - v. - concerto" argument; isn't (for example) Elgar's Violin Concerto a "symphony" in all but name? - and numerous pieces under the title "Concerto for Orchestra" by composers as diverse as Bartók, Lutosławski, Gerhard, Carter, Petrassi, Holloway et al et al likewise? This is not the area of what you call "silly names", is it? - but it is nevertheless one in which the perceived credibility or otherwise of the word "symphony" appears to have been called into question by the composers (and, of the cited ones in this deeply incomplete list, only Lutosławski and Gerhard each gave the title "symphony" to as many as four works).

As a P.S to this, it might perhaps be thought to have been somewhat fortunate that the commission that Carter received from the Boston SO some decade or more ago and which resulted in an orchestral concerto did not come from the Warsaw Philharmonic, n'est-ce pas?(!)...
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« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2012, 04:12:55 am »

Could I just say that I chose to label this thread in the way I did in order to be provocative and, hopefully, to gain it some attention Grin I did not intend to put the two musical forms into competition with each other but simply to draw attention to what appeared to me from my cataloguing exercise to be a considerable diminution in the number of symphonies being written by contemporary composers in contrast to the increasing diversity of concertos for an ever-widening number of different musical instruments. As composers over the last 50 years or so have become-it appeared to me-more adventurous in writing concertos for wind, brass, percussion etc instruments they seem to be at least "shy" with regard to the use of the word "symphony" Smiley

But-ultimately-if a composer (like Robin Holloway) choses to write substantial Concertos for Orchestra which he decides to label "concertos" rather than "symphonies" I have no great issue with that. What I do have a problem with however is that of his five Concertos for Orchestra only two have made it to disc (and that courtesy of the specialist modern label NMC) and that his two most recent such works-critically acclaimed though they are-are completely inaccessible to an "old fogey" like myself. I may prefer the music of Edmund Rubbra or Robert Simpson to that of Robin Holloway or Colin Matthews but I WOULD like the opportunity to be able to say that based on actual familiarity with the music of all four.
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« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2012, 07:56:10 am »

Could I just say that I chose to label this thread in the way I did in order to be provocative and, hopefully, to gain it some attention Grin I did not intend to put the two musical forms into competition with each other but simply to draw attention to what appeared to me from my cataloguing exercise to be a considerable diminution in the number of symphonies being written by contemporary composers in contrast to the increasing diversity of concertos for an ever-widening number of different musical instruments. As composers over the last 50 years or so have become-it appeared to me-more adventurous in writing concertos for wind, brass, percussion etc instruments they seem to be at least "shy" with regard to the use of the word "symphony" Smiley

But-ultimately-if a composer (like Robin Holloway) choses to write substantial Concertos for Orchestra which he decides to label "concertos" rather than "symphonies" I have no great issue with that. What I do have a problem with however is that of his five Concertos for Orchestra only two have made it to disc (and that courtesy of the specialist modern label NMC) and that his two most recent such works-critically acclaimed though they are-are completely inaccessible to an "old fogey" like myself. I may prefer the music of Edmund Rubbra or Robert Simpson to that of Robin Holloway or Colin Matthews but I WOULD like the opportunity to be able to say that based on actual familiarity with the music of all four.
Hear, hear!

That said, I think it fair to say that Holloway has written a considerably greater number of works that might have been given the title "symphony" than has Colin Matthews (not that this is intended as any kind of value judgement of either composer one way of the other). Incidentally, when I once asked Anthony Payne when he might write his first symphony, he promptly retorted "never!" but then, on reflection, added "well, probably later than that!" (this, incidentally, after Elgar 3 had been completed and performed); I didn't like to ask him to "elaborate" on why this might be, as I rather felt that I could see the film of dustiness on the answer before I'd even put the question...
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« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2012, 05:46:05 pm »

It is indeed also true as Jim remarks above that many composers wait until middle-age before embarking on writing symphonies. He instances composers like Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Brian and Bax as examples. That is certainly true. Composers like Frederick Delius, John Ireland, Herbert Howells never wrote a symphony at all. Bliss wrote one(the "Colour Symphony") and "Morning Heroes" which is a choral composition. Benjamin Britten wrote an early "Simple Symphony" and a "Sinfonia" but then chose to attach the term to a choral work(the "Spring Symphony") and a 'concerto'(The Cello Symphony). William Walton wrote one early symphony and then not another until he was almost 60. Tippett's first two symphonies were written in middle age but the 3rd and 4th did  not follow until he had reached the age of 65. Peter Maxwell Davies had written a very large amount of music before he came to the symphony (at which point symphonies seem to have poured forth in profusion!).

Frankly though, I doubt whether this is particularly likely now from contemporary composers in Britain. After all, Holloway is now 69 and Colin Matthews 66 Grin (Colin may feel that having one symphonist in the family-in the person of David-is enough Grin). There is no real British equivalent of the Finn Kalevi Aho who has now clocked up 15 of the species. O rto jump back a few decades-the Portuguese composer Joly Braga Santos, who had written four in his twenties.

It is NOT however a competition Smiley I do not, I assure you, judge a composer's merits on whether or not he has written symphonies. I happen to admire the form and to relish the opportunity to follow a composer's development through the course of a symphonic cycle. My favourite composers-in almost all cases-did write a substantial number of symphonies: Brahms, Bruckner, Sibelius, Nielsen, Vaughan Williams, Brian, Rubbra, Shostakovich, William Schuman, Simpson etc etc. But I equally love and admire the music of an essentially operatic composer like Wagner or a composer like Richard Strauss-who wrote two, essentally programmatic symphonies, but whose Four Last Songs for me represent the pinnacle of his genius.

Writing "a symphony" is-or should be-a challenging prospect for any composer and there are a large number of symphonies which do not measure up to the challenge. There ARE composers who wrote a large number of symphonies of very variable quality. In fact, it seems to me, the more symphonies a composer writes the more unlikely it is that a record company will have the resources to embark on a complete set(fortunate indeed are composers like Miaskovsky to have a passionate advocate in the late Svetlanov or Julius Rontgen Roll Eyes to have CPO prepared to take on the task or Aho similarly with BIS but, equally, unfortunate to be Niels Viggo Bentzon). Of course, if the composer happens to be a bit of "crank" it ultimately helps since "eccentric oddities" appear to attract fanatical devotion from certain music listeners-viz. Rued Langgaard. (Not, I hasten to add, is such devotion, necessarily, displaced......."eccentric cranks" with sad, hard-luck stories did, often though not invariably, write some inspired music Grin Grin).

However....I am now rambling Grin
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Jim
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« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2012, 09:22:11 pm »

Talking of eccentrics, has Leif Segerstam got to symphony No. 260 yet? He can't be far off.

Though I don't think that William Glock was wrong to promote Modernist composers at the BBC/Proms, it was unfortunate that some more traditional composers were sidelined. Perhaps this could be one reason for the decline of the British symphony? Key relationships were a feature of symphonic writing so Modernists had yet to find a way in (RR Bennett perhaps an exception) - pieces with fanciful titles (I hesitate to say 'silly names') often gave a clue to the processes involved in their composition. It is interesting to read how PMD came to write his first symphony and how he searched for ways to make the form work for him. Though Simpson continued to compose symphonies in the 60s & 70s it is interesting to see gaps in the output of others such as Arthur Butterworth or George Lloyd. Alan Bush has a gap of over 20 years between the 3rd and 4th Symphony, and the only nod towards the form in the 70s was the Symphonic movement 'Africa', for piano and orchestra!

Another point - if the BBC were reluctant to promote more traditional composers, perhaps symphonists, I can see how such a composer might produce a concerto for a particular performer thus gaining an instant advocate for the work. But I speculate.

Thanks Dundonnell for an interesting topic.
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ahinton
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« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2012, 11:45:59 am »

Talking of eccentrics, has Leif Segerstam got to symphony No. 260 yet? He can't be far off...

...pieces with fanciful titles (I hesitate to say 'silly names')...
Well, with Segerstam you get both, quite often, many of his symphonies having quite bizarre subtitles; ah, well, that's Leif, I guess. As of the end of August this year, the symphonic tally was 258, many of these symphonies occupying precisely the same duration - 24 minutes - and if the subtitle of the most recent one, Enchanted by the famous pigletpettattoes of Viola Segerstam, isn't perverse, I'm not quite sure what is. That said, his conducting of other repertoire - especially that for which he's perhaps best known - seems to me to be anything but eccentric or at least achieves wholly uneccentric and often utterly thrilling and compelling results.

OK, back to topic, which is the life of the symphony in Britain. Years ago, when I got a place to study at RAM with Alan Bush (which in the event I was unable to take up), I recall that on the curriculum of the history classes was an "Is the symphony dead?" question and, I suppose, it's a question that still has pertinence today, but the evidence is that it remains alive into the 21st century and doesn't look set to disappear any time soon unless far more symphony orchestras meet their demise as a consequence of financial difficulties. David Matthews (who is perhaps generally accepted as one of Britain's finest living symphonists) once wrote to me "THERE WILL BE NO MORE SYMPHONIES!!" (meaning from him); for the record, he had six to his name at that time...
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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2013, 04:52:25 am »

But I equally love and admire the music of an essentially operatic composer like Wagner or a composer like Richard Strauss-who wrote two, essentally programmatic symphonies, but whose Four Last Songs for me represent the pinnacle of his genius.

Wagner wrote two absolute symphonies in his youth (in C, and E, one incomplete), but they don't reflect his particular brand of genius.
Strauss also wrote two absolute symphonies (in f minor and d minor), which are both quite enjoyable, and of course the rest are essentially symphonic poems (albeit long ones).
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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2013, 02:07:11 pm »

i hope this sort of dissenting view will be tolerated around here, but—

if i may: perhaps composers are wondering what the point is of writing a symphony in the 21st century?

no other genre bears so much historical weight (perhaps the sonata? but that title can be applied much more broadly) and therefore suggests such a reactionary philosophical outlook when applied to a composition written in the present day:

- the primacy of the orchestra—not only because its form of social organisation is not especially popular nowadays, but because modern orchestras are essentially museums dedicated to presenting archives of ancient music;
- conceptions of "structure" and "musical logic", regardless of whether or not functional tonality is actually invoked, that are inappropriate for musical styles other than well-crafted pastiche;
- the symphony audience, whose tastes have essentially remained unchanged for a hundred years, so that if your well-crafted pastiche is any more "advanced" than Debussy or perhaps Richard Strauss your symphony will be unlikely to secure a second performance;
- the idea that the symphony must by nature be of central importance to a composer's output;
- the unpleasant causes to which symphonies have been dedicated in the past—largely the support of authoritarian régimes (much like that of the conductor over the orchestra in fact >.>)—and the sanitised causes to which they must be dedicated now to avoid offending anyone (joe q. composer's symphony no. 3 "the holocaust was pretty bad")
- the position of the composer in the romantic philosophy that writing symphonies implies

it varies from composer to composer, obviously, but i've never heard a symphony written in a truly living musical language, rather than one that seeks to recreate or commentate upon the glories of the past—and that sort of attitude, whether "revivalist" or "postmodernist" in nature, is more focused on tradition than is healthy. certainly music must acknowledge tradition, but there is a fine line between acknowledgement and becoming all about the tradition.

this is no comment on the concerto. i would suggest it has prevailed for more cynical reasons. concertos are easy to programme between your Beethoven overture and your Chaikovsky symphony, and big-name virtuosos sell tickets, so concert organisers are more likely to commission them—and where there's money, composers will invent aesthetic justifications ;P
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2013, 02:30:40 pm »

You will not be surprised to learn that I fundamentally disagree with you Smiley  I am happy to defend your absolute right however to express your opinion Wink

It may well be that a substantial number of younger composers are wondering whether there is any point in writing symphonies. Their reasons for that may differ between the fear that putting so much effort into composing in such a "weighty form" may not be rewarded with a performance at all and a more fundamental doubt that the symphony as a musical form has any real future per se.

You go on to elaborate a number of reasons why the symphony may be regarded as an anachronism in the 21st century and posit the theory that those symphonies which are being written by living composers are in the main "pastiche", mere replication of a tradition which is, or should be, regarded as now outmoded.

And, of course, to an extent-if I am being brutally honest-I can recognise the argument. There is no disguising the fact that my own personal preference is for symphonic music which does build on past tradition. Is that unhealthy or undesirable Huh Huh You, clearly, think so. I do not.

Are audiences really stuck in a musical museum dedicated to the regurgitation of past glories and pale imitations of such Huh Well, to an extent they are. But I still like to believe that audiences could be educated to an appreciation of both the music of the great composers of the past and of more modern music and that there IS also a middle-ground-not of pastiche but of composers who, just as their great predecessors did, can use tradition, can build upon it, to compose music which both looks backwards and forwards.

....and if I AM wrong, if you are correct in your forecast of what the future of musical appreciation and progress will really be like, then-from my point of view- fortunately I shall not be around to witness it Grin
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2013, 02:52:25 pm »

You will not be surprised to learn that I fundamentally disagree with you Smiley  I am happy to defend your absolute right however to express your opinion Wink
i am indeed unsurprised, seeing as you are (a) a specialist in orchestral music and (b) from, i suppose, a significantly older generation than myself >.>

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It may well be that a substantial number of younger composers are wondering whether there is any point in writing symphonies. Their reasons for that may differ between the fear that putting so much effort into composing in such a "weighty form" may not be rewarded with a performance at all and a more fundamental doubt that the symphony as a musical form has any real future per se.

You go on to elaborate a number of reasons why the symphony may be regarded as an anachronism in the 21st century and posit the theory that those symphonies which are being written by living composers are in the main "pastiche", mere replication of a tradition which is, or should be, regarded as now outmoded.

And, of course, to an extent-if I am being brutally honest-I can recognise the argument. There is no disguising the fact that my own personal preference is for symphonic music which does build on past tradition. Is that unhealthy or undesirable Huh Huh You, clearly, think so. I do not.

i do not think your preference is unhealthy (although i would argue that all music "builds on past tradition"). i am speaking mainly from the point of view of composers rather than listeners. obviously, every listener has their own taste.

so many composers i've heard nowadays cannot seemingly write without reference to the past. they are "stuck in the museum" (i do not mean simply that they are writing "tonal" music—there is plenty left to be said with keys, notes and rhythms, and my own compositions fall within this realm in fact...—but that their music references specific works or idioms of the past, with the intention either of reviving these idioms or producing commentaries on them). and for reasons that to me seem obvious, these make up most of the people writing symphonies these days. part of it is undoubtedly through attempts to appeal specifically to listeners such as you, whose interest in classical music has led to a lifelong study of the great (and lesser) works of previous eras with little-to-no interest in present idioms or trends.

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Are audiences really stuck in a musical museum dedicated to the regurgitation of past glories and pale imitations of such Huh Well, to an extent they are. But I still like to believe that audiences could be educated to an appreciation of both the music of the great composers of the past and of more modern music and that there IS also a middle-ground-not of pastiche but of composers who, just as their great predecessors did, can use tradition, can build upon it, to compose music which both looks backwards and forwards.
certainly i would be interested in hearing a symphony by a composer who still believes that music is a living art—as opposed to someone like Robin Holloway i guess, who in one of his lectures during my first year at uni described his own work as "musical scholarship" with the whole implication that basically there is nothing original left to be said in music, only re-arrangements of others' works—a view that seems sadly common and i suppose starts with George Rochberg who must be one of my least favourite thinkers of the twentieth century >.>

i use the term "pastiche" rather broadly. i would describe almost the complete works of Thomas Adès as pastiche for instance, and most of the early and epoch-making works of Pierre Boulez, which i find rather inferior to the Webern originals he was so strongly influenced by. the kind of modern symphonists i am thinking of are people like David Matthews and James MacMillan (although Matthews i have actually heard some quite fine music by, albeit none of it in works called "Symphony").

i should note that i also stop considering a work a "pastiche" if it is superior to its antecedents to the point of no longer even inspiring comparison with them. the finale of Schubert's sonata D959 is not a "pastiche" of the finale of Beethoven's sonata Op. 31/1, but it could have been if it was much more poorly written. >.>

(and there are works i consider pastiche that i enjoy listening to as well, both from the "modern" end of the spectrum such as Unsuk Chin's Violin Concerto, which incidentally possesses a surface beauty & love of colour that i think would make it not completely inaccessible to the membership of this forum, and from the "traditional" end such as Vaughan Williams 5 and Dutilleux 1 which are two of the best symphonies to come out of the 20th century)
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