Symphony and Symphony (from the Greek σύμφωνος sýmphōnos, sounding together ',' harmony ', also Italian Sinfonia ) is a beginning of the 17th century, common name for instrumental works from over the centuries, changing shape and composition, including compositions for keyboard instruments. Thus the term used about Bach Symphony for the opening sentence of his second Partita and calls his three -part inventions " symphonies ".

In the 18th century, formed from the classical form of the symphony, which claimed a dominant position in the field of orchestral music in the 20th century. This is a several (often four, rarely three or five) sets of existing work for orchestra without soloists. Since the 9th Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, the use of vocals ( soloists and / or chorus) is common, but without abandoning the dominant feature of the orchestra.

Development of the symphony



In the Baroque music of the Italian word Sinfonia originally called a work for orchestra, very rare with singing. You will find both in church music as well as in opera and ballet as an introductory piece ( Overture ), incidental music or musical illustration of the action (eg battle music) use. Until the late 18th century overtures hot with the full sequence fast - slow - fast " Sinfonia ", in reference to the overtures in Neapolitan operas, the Neapolitan opera sinfonia (unlike the French overture ).

Galanter Style / early classical

As of 1740, the three -part form solidified ( fast - slow - fast) Sinfonia and emancipated from the Neapolitan opera. In contrast to previous binding to the basso of the so-called upper voices set is strong, which for example The strings play a ( new ) central position in the instrumentation. Instruments were used rather " incidental".

Among the most important composers of the pre-classical symphony include the Italian composer Giovanni Battista Sammartini and Antonio Brioschi, and Johann Stamitz ( Mannheim school ) and Georg Christoph Wagenseil ( Viennese School ). During the 18th century expanded with the spread to northern Europe, the Italian three-movement form of the Sinfonia to the Minuet, an additional, inserted before the final set set - so especially in the symphonies of Mannheim and the Viennese School.


The classical symphony from the mid-18th century, especially with the composer Joseph Haydn ( 104 symphonies ), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (over 50 symphonies ) and Ludwig van Beethoven brought ( nine symphonies ) in conjunction. Overweight Rochester sentence is the first, called the header record, which is usually held in sonata form with possibly slower ( as Reminsiszenz to the French Overture ) Introduction and two contrasting themes ( main theme and secondary theme ) imagines and processed. The second movement is a slow movement, often in the form of a song, the third a minuet or a scherzo later (pronounced [' skɛɐʦo ] ). Since the Scherzo of Beethoven also appears at times in second, the slow movement in third place. The fourth movement - the finale - is usually a rondo, sonata form or sonata- rondo, in individual cases, a set of variations ( Eroica, Brahms Fourth )

The key sequence is handled strictly in most of the classical symphony. For every classical symphony a home key, you can specify where the work begins and (mostly) also ends. The outer movements ( head movement and finale ) are composed in this home key, and usually also the third set. The slow movement, however, is usually in a related key, the dominant, subdominant, a parallel or Medianttonart.


For the later, following romance Ludwig van Beethoven is the most important point of reference in the earlier history of music. Some composers desperate even to the " Titanic " model, as Johannes Brahms did not dare, for example, long on the composition of a symphony. Beethoven introduced the so-called thematic- motivic work ( ie, the use of related musical elements and fragments ) to almost every clock controlling density. The emotional content learned in this way, especially in the symphonic first movements intensified contrast, sometimes a tragic drama related conflictual (especially Symphony No. 3 and Symphony No. 5 ).

As part of this dramatization of musical expression increased the Beethoven orchestral forces for more horns ( three horns in the third and four horns in the 9th Symphony ), was this melody functions ( 3rd Symphony ), added trombones, timpani, a third and a contrabassoon and a piccolo added. All instruments can fulfill any function, a subject can wander through all the parts. In the 9th symphony he placed the scherzo precedes the slow movement, in the 5th Symphony he combined the last two sentences. In the 9th also occurred choir and soloists to the orchestra. Another innovation was the frequent use of Terzverwandtschaften.

Also, the inclusion of extra-musical content in the Classical symphony goes on Beethoven back: In the 6th Symphony ( Pastoral ) he referred tonal natural events (for example, bird calls in the 2nd movement, which is titled Scene by the Brook; storm and tempest in the same 4. sentence ). He used the explicit text template of the poem Ode to Joy by Friedrich Schiller for a large-scale vocal section ( soloists, choir ) in the fourth sentence in the 9th Symphony. Here, the singing section were musical quotations from the three previous records, and the opening words " Oh friends, not these tones! " Sent ahead.

This was initiated by Beethoven symphonic vocal was later continued by Gustav Mahler in some of his symphonies.


The romantic symphony can be divided into two areas. On the one hand, the classical symphony is continued in romantic sound - here are especially Franz Schubert ( eight symphonies ), Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy ( five symphonies, plus twelve string symphonies ), Robert Schumann ( four symphonies ), Anton Bruckner ( eight symphonies, to two early works and one unfinished ), Johannes Brahms ( four symphonies ), Felix Draeseke ( four symphonies ), Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ( six symphonies, to Manfred Symphony ), Antonín Dvořák ( nine symphonies ), Gustav Mahler ( nine symphonies, plus an unfinished ) and to call Jean Sibelius ( seven symphonies ), on the other hand, tries to break the mold of the symphony by incorporating a non-musical program, which led to the so-called symphonic poem - so especially in Hector Berlioz ( Symphonie fantastique ), Franz Liszt and Richard Strauss.

The genre of the symphony broke up over the romantic eras increasingly from the traditional, four-movement symphony of classical music. The order of the records is often reversed, the number of sets of varied. Also, the unit of the keys was not as binding viewed: So begins Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor about, but ends in D major. As new organizing principle of the symphonic cycle the motivic entanglement was often chosen: the motifs and themes were cross- processed in several sets of a work or raised in the transition to the 20th century to the principle of a whole symphony, so that was a single, differentiated in itself musical organism. The expansion of the apparatus performance also led to the development of the special form of the symphony cantata, which connects the symphony with the human vocals.

20th Century Music

In the 20th century there was hardly a single symphony concept, also due to the stylistic fragmentation of "modernity ", in spite of numerous symphonic compositions by Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, Bohuslav Martinů, Nikolai Myaskovsky, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Anton Webern, Hanns Eisler, Martin Scherber, Alan Hovhaness, Fritz Geissler, Friedrich Goldmann, Max Butting, Siegfried Matthus, Günter Kochan, Friedrich Schenker, Hans Werner Henze, Wilhelm Kaiser - Lindemann, Peter Maxwell Davies, Philip Glass, Krzysztof Meyer, Krzysztof Penderecki, Allan Pettersson, Alfred Schnittke, Mieczysław Weinberg and Robert Simpson.