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Second-Tier English Symphonies

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Author Topic: Second-Tier English Symphonies  (Read 492 times)
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« on: March 14, 2019, 02:51:22 am »

You must mean something different from the obvious, - but then, I find your entire post quite incoherent.

Possibly the intent was to mean the concert hall?

In the concert hall in the United States, Britain is (from what I can see) mostly represented by Elgar, Gustav Holst's "The Planets", Handel (if an adopted home counts), occasional programming of Ralph Vaughn Williams and Benjamin Britten, and *maybe* a smattering of misc. works. (Our orchestra programmed Delius a couple of times for instance.) Of these, the only symphonies that are programmed are Handel's (being Baroque symphonies an entirely different beast), Elgar's, and RVW's. (Holst wrote a symphony plus a "choral symphony" but I have never seen that programmed.)

Many of the composers that you list I would put in a theoretical "second tier". These are often just-as-good, quality works, but they just lack that special "thing" that makes it repertoire. By this nature, this tier is a bit fluid -- some composers rise in stature over time, and some composers of hugely popular works at the time fall into obscurity. The Arnold Bax symphonic cycle actually would be my top answer for this category. Because as far as I know, the main thing that gets programmed for Bax is a few of his tone poems (like Tintagel) and chamber pieces (like the Elegiac Trio). Which is unfortunate, because IMHO Bax's symphonic cycle is very good and representative. Bax is not unloved in recordings, though.

I guess for me a good candidate for a "third tier", kind of what you are talking about, would be William Alwyn. Even less known than Arnold Bax (at least in the symphonic works world) and much less recordings than Bax, but with IMHO quite a compelling cycle of symphonies. Unfortunately he happened to be producing tonal symphonic music in an era where atonality was fashionable, which did not help the critical standing in the initial day. I think they would be far better received nowadays.
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