A History of the Symphony: The Grand Genre

1st Edition

Jeffrey Langford

Published November 15, 2019
Textbook - 262 Pages
ISBN 9780815357056 - CAT# K346515

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A History of the Symphony: The Grand Genre identifies the underlying cultural factors that have shaped the symphony over the past three hundred years, presenting a unified view of the entire history of the genre. The text goes beyond discussions of individual composers and the stylistic evolution of the genre to address what constitutes a symphony within each historical period, describing how such works fit into the lives of composers and audiences of the time, recognizing that they do not exist in a vacuum but rather as the products of numerous external forces spurring their creation.

In three parts, the text proceeds chronologically, drawing connections between musical examples across regions and eras:

  • The Classical Symphony
  • The Romantic Symphony
  • The Symphony in the Modern Era

Within this broad chronology—from the earliest Italian symphonies of the 18th century to the most experimental works of the 20th century—discussion of the development of the genre often breaks down along national lines that outline divergent but parallel paths of stylistic growth. In consideration of what is and is not a symphony, musical developments in other genres are presented as they relate to the symphony, genres such as the serenade, the tone poem, and the concert overture. Suitable for a one-semester course as well as a full-year syllabus, and with illustrative musical examples throughout, A History of the Symphony places composers and works in sociological and musical contexts while confronting the fundamental question: What is a symphony?


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