Brahms: Symphony no 2

In contrast to the 21 years it took for his first symphony, the second of Brahms’ four symphonies was composed over the summer of 1877, during a visit to the southernmost Austrian province of Carinthia. It was first performed by the Vienna Philharmonic in Vienna, in December of that same year. The symphony follows the … Read more

Vaughan Williams: Symphony no 3

Vaughan William’s Symphony No. 3 was started in 1916 and completed in 1921. It was originally published as A Pastoral Symphony and wasn’t numbered until later. It was first performed in London on 16 January 1922, with Adrian Boult conducting. One critic remarked that it reminded him of “a cow looking over a gate”. Vaughan … Read more

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

Born near Grenoble to a distinguished physician, Hector did not begin to study music until the age of twelve. He played the guitar, flageolet and flute but was discouraged from ever learning the piano by his father. He also composed, learning harmony from textbooks. At eighteen he was sent to Paris to study medicine but … Read more

Dvorak – Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”

The Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World”, Op. 95, B. 178 (Czech: Symfonie č. 9 e moll „Z nového světa“), popularly known as the New World Symphony, was composed by Antonin Dvorak in 1893 while he was the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America from 1892 to 1895. … Read more

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5

Preludio; Scherzo; Romanza; Passacaglia Vaughan Williams composed pretty melodies, such as ‘The Lark Ascending’ and ‘Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis’. Born in Gloucestershire, his entire upbringing was steeped in tradition. He was related both to the pottery Wedgwoods and to Charles Darwin. Gustav Holst was a close friend. He went to school at … Read more

Dvorak: Symphony no 6 in D major

Dvořák conducted his sixth symphony on his first visit to England in 1884, at a concert of the London Philharmonic Society. It was the first Dvořák symphony to be heard outside his own country, and became a great favourite with the English public at the time. The symphony is widely thought to have been influenced … Read more

Herschel: Symphony no 13 in D major

Many scientists no doubt enjoy music as a pastime but it must be rare for a professional musician’s scientific hobby to crowd out his music-making completely. But this was the case with William Herschel, after his celebrated discovery of Uranus in 1781. The identification of the first planet since ancient times changed Herschel’s life entirely. … Read more

Mozart: Symphony no 35 K385

The summer of 1782 was a busy time for Mozart. He had left Salzburg and was now living in Vienna. He was moving house in preparation for his forthcoming marriage to Constance Weber and had other important work deadlines to meet. He received a request from his father on 20th July to write a new … Read more

Haydn: Symphony no 103 (The Drumroll”)”

Haydn is known as the “Father of the Symphony” (of which he wrote 106) and the “Father of the String Quartet” (of which he is thought to have written around 70). He was a friend of Mozart and briefly a teacher of Beethoven. Haydn lived most of his life in Austria but in 1790, at … Read more