Symphonic poem

Symphonic poem

A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in one movement in which some extramusical program provides a narrative or illustrative element. This programme may come from a poem, a story or novel, a painting, or another source. The term was first applied by Franz Liszt to his 13 one-movement orchestral works in this vein. They were not pure symphonic movements in the classical sense because they dealt with descriptive subjects taken from mythology, Romantic literature, recent history or imaginative fantasy. In other words, these works were "programmatic" rather than abstract. [Kennedy, 711.] The form was a direct product of Romanticism which encouraged literary, pictorial and dramatic associations in music. It developed into an important form of program music in the second half of the 19th century.Spencer, P., 1233]

A symphonic poem may stand on its own, like a concert overture, or it can be part of a series combined into a suite (in the Romantic rather than the Baroque sense). For example, "The Swan of Tuonela" (1895) is a tone poem from Sibelius's "Lemminkäinen Suite". It can also be part of a cycle of interrelated works. For example, "Vltava" ("The Moldau") is one part of the six-work cycle "Má vlast" by Bedřich Smetana.

Musical works such as tone poems based on extramusical sources are often referred to as program music [Kennedy, 564.] while music which has no such associations may be called absolute music. [Kennedy, 2.] Also, while the terms "symphonic poem" and "tone poem" have often been used interchangeably, some composers such as Richard Strauss and Jean Sibelius have preferred the latter term for pieces which were less symphonic in design and in which there is no special emphasis on thematic or tonal contrast.Spencer, P., 1233]


Program music took a decisive step forward in the early 19th century with Ludwig van Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, subtitled the "Pastoral", [Kennedy, 564.] and Hector Berlioz' "Symphonie Fantastique". Unlike earlier orchestral character pieces, the "Symphonie Fantastique" follows a complete and specific narrative, which is about an artist's unrequited and obsessive love for a woman, his subsequent attempt at suicide, and finally his grotesque visions while in an opium-induced trance. The symphony, a semi-autobiographical depiction of Berlioz himself, became one of the most important early examples of program music, especially in its use of a recurring theme or idée fixe through each movement of the composition. [Latham, 1235.]

The direct history of the symphonic poem can be traced to the dramatic overtures of Ludwig van Beethoven such as those for "Egmont" and "Coriolanus." These works display a concentration and expressive power which would become characteristic of many single-movement works. They also show an independence from their theatrical origins that would prompt Beethoven as well as other early- to mid-19th century, composers to write "concert overtures" such as "Der Beherrscher der Geister" ("The Ruler of the Spirits", 1811), by Carl Maria von Weber; the "Waverly", "Rob Roy" and "Roi Lear" overtures of Hector Berlioz; and the "Hebrides Overture" (also known as "Fingal's Cave", 1830) by Felix Mendelssohn.Spencer, P., 1233.] [MacDonald, 18:428.]

While none of Berlioz' three concert overtures portray a specific sequence of action, they are indelibly linked to their literary sources. Mendelssohn's overture to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is more strictly programmatic, with clear references to characters and action within the Shakespeare play. His later overtures to "Die schöne Melusine", "Meeresstille und glücklicke Fahrt" and "Hebrides" can be considered direct prototypes of the Lisztian symphonic poem; in 1884 Hans von Bulow described them as having attained that ideal. [MacDonald, 18:428-9.]

Alternative to the symphony

Classical composers such as Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven tended to be natural symphonists because they thought in terms of architecture, and the classical symphony was basically an architectural form. [Cooper, 25.] Sonata form, the form used by a symphonist, was far from a rigid set of rules; on the contrary, it left innumerable choices to the composer for building a coherent movement that possessed a diversity of imagination within the unity of the overall form. [Wood, 74.] With this goal in mind, musical development was designed and intended as a form of creative evolution or unfolding of latent possibilities in rhythm, melody and harmony of a given theme, either in part or in its entirety. This is a purely musical activity; it has little to do with the free fantasia, the rhapsodizing in a given atmosphere or upon a given poetic idea—all the latter being preferred practices of the Romantics. [Cooper, 29-30.] In other words, sonata form is a concept with no real application outside music, yet the Romantics constantly attempted to reconcile classical formal principles to external literary concepts.MacDonald, 18:432.]

Furthermore, an examination of the actual thematic material of the great Classical symphonies would show that the original themes used to build a symphonic movement does not need to be striking or of great intrinsic beauty. What is important is, this material is the seed from which these themes start; their growth and development depend entirely on the composer. As an architectural principle, sonata form demands certain qualities that may be present in an apparently uninteresting theme and absent in a more attractive-sounding theme—qualities that will make that theme amenable to contrast and combination with other themes, becoming united yet still showing diversity within that unity. This unity in diversity can be compromised by a melody of great individuality, whether that individuality is one of extreme beauty or a high degree of dramatic or evocative power. Such a melody tends to dominate the whole movement in which it is placed. It refuses equal rights to other themes with which it is supposed to interact. All those things would ruin the architectural balance which was considered the primary beauty of sonata form. [Cooper, 29.]

The symphonic poem offered what seemed a viable alternative to the Classical strictures of composition. Every symphonic poem is actually an extended fantasia, since a fantasia is the basic Romantic musical form. While some of these works may contain elements of the classical symphony and adhere to a point with its form, their underlying process is actually quite different. It is a free rhapsodizing of the composer within a certain emotional mood, a free play of the emotions over the surface of some story or musical motif. To their free rhapsodizing Franz Liszt added cyclic form, a procedure established by Beethoven in which certain movements are not only linked but actually reflect one another's content, [Walker, 357.] as well as thematic transformation, a type of variation form in which one theme is transformed not into a related or subsidiary theme to the main one but into new, sepaarate and independent themes. [Searle, 281.] Liszt perfected the creation of entire formal structures through the use of these two concepts, [Walker, 310.] giving those structures some unity in the process.Cooper, 25.]

With Liszt's invention of the symphonic poem in the 1850s came the decline in the concert overture, with its stricter emphasis on sonata form. The freedom to mold musical form in line with outside requirements, as illusory as some critics may argue it having been, proved the chief distinction between the two genres; the primary advantage of the symphonic poem was that it would allow for a far more detailed program than the stricter form would permit. Therefore, the symphonic poem attracted composers leaning toward the avant-garde, while more conservative composers continued to write concert overtures in an effort to preserve at least the spirit of the form. [Tempereley, "New Grove 2", 18:826.]


Liszt foreshadowed his own adoption of the symphonic poem in a number of piano works, especially in the "Album d'un voyager" (1835-6), which would later be published as "Années de Pèlerinage". "Chapelle de Guillaume Tell" is a musical portrait of the Swiss national hero. "Au Lac de Wallenstadt" and "Valée d'Obermann" bear literary quotations in the same manner as the later orchestral pieces. "" is an extended paraphrase of a poem by Victor Hugo.MacDonald, 18:429.]

By the time he made his initial forays into similarly themed orchestral music, Liszt showed a marked preference for the single-movement format.MacDonald, 18:429.] He used the term "symphonic poem" for the first time publicly at a concert in Weimar on April 19, 1854 to describe Liszt's "Tasso", and the title evidently pleased him. Five days later, he used the term "poèmes symphoniques" in a letter to Hans von Bülow to describe "Les Preludes" and "Orpheus". [Walker, 304.] His invention of the term "symphonic poem" shows his desire for the form, albeit in one movement, to display the logic of symphonic thought.MacDonald, 18:429.] By doing so, he attempted to combine the elements of overture and symphony with descriptive elements and produce single-movement works that approached symphonic first movements in form and scaleSpencer, P., 1233] yet did not obey Classical forms strictly. [Searle, "New Grove," 11:41.]

Particularly striking in these works is Liszt's approach to musical form. When looked upon as purely musical structures, Liszt's symphonic poems (and the "Faust" and "Dante" Symphonies) show extremely creative amendments to sonata form. Recapitulations are foreshortened. Codas assume developmental proportions. Themes become shuffled into new and unexpected patterns of order, with three- or four-movement structures become rolled into one and kaleidoscopic contrasts integrated by thematic transformation. Liszt's radical approach to form earned him the notice of Arnold Schonberg and Béla Bartók many years after the fact. [Walker, 308-9.]

Liszt imagination was generally more poetic than visual.MacDonald, 18:429.] He usually tried to express general ideas rather than resort to pictorial realism. In this regard he differed not only from Berlioz but also from many other composers who would write symphonic poems, such as Smetana, Dvorak and Richard Strauss. Even a battle piece such as "Hunnenschalacht" is treated symbolically rather than realistically for over half its length. [Searle, "New Grove", 11:42.]

Czech composers

Liszt's direct successors in developing the symphonic poem were less in Germany than they were in Bohemia, Russian and France. Composers in Bohemia and Russia also showed the potential of the form as a vehicle for the nationalist ideas beginning to foment at this time. Bedřich Smetana, who visited Weimar in 1857 and was befriended by Liszt, immediately began a series of symphonic works based on literary subjects. This series included "Richard III" (1857-8), "Wallensteins Lager" (1858-9) and "Hakon Jarl" (1860-61), after Shakespeare, Schiller and Öhlenschläger, respectively. A piano work dating from the same period, "Macbeth a carodejnice" ("Macbeth and the witches", 1859), is similar in scope but bolder in style. All these works show Smetana's admiration for Liszt's music as well as a straightforward approach to narrative description.MacDonald, 18:429.]

Smetana's greatest achievement in this genre became his set of six symphonic poems under the general title "Má vlast", composed between 1872 and 1879. The cycle presents selected episodes and ideas from Czech history while embodying its composer's personal belief in the greatness of the Czech nation. Two recurrent themes are used to unify the entire cycle. One represents Vysehrad, the fortress over the river Vltava whose course provides the subject matter for the second (and best-known) work in the cycle. The other theme is the ancient Czech hymn "Kdoz jste Bozl bojovnici" ("Ye who are God's warriors") which unites the cycle's last two poems, "Tabor" and "Blanik." [MacDonald, 18:429-30.]

In expanding the form of the symphonic poem, Smetana succeeded in creating one of the monuments of Czech music.MacDonald, 18:430.] Also, in showing how to apply new forms for new purposed, he began a profusion of symphonic poems from his younger contemporaries in the Czech lands and Slovakia. Those composers included Antonín Dvořák, Zdeněk Fibich, Leoš Janáček and Vítězslav Novák.MacDonald, 18:430.]

Dvořák's principal symphonic poems date from the 1890s and fall into two groups. The first group forms a cycle in a similar manner to "Ma vlast", with a single theme running through all three poems. They were originally conceived as a trilogy to be titled "Priroda, Zivot a Laska" ("Nature, Life and Love") but appeared as three separate overtures, "V Prirode" ("In Nature's Realm"), "Carnival" and "Othello". The score for the last contains notes from the Shakespeare play but the sequence of characters do not correspond. Five poems comprise the second group. Four of them—"The Water Goblin", "The Noon Witch", "The Golden Spinning Wheel" and "The Wild Dove"—are based on poems from Karel Jaromír Erben's "Kytice" ("Bouquet") collection of fairy tales. In these four poems, Dvořák clearly intended specific characters and incidents to be clearly represented; he even arrived at some of his themes by setting lines from the poems to music.MacDonald, 18:430.] He also follows Liszt and Smetana's example of thematic transformation, metamorphosizing the king's theme in "The Golden Spinning Wheel" to represent the wicked stepmother and also the mysterious, kindly old man found in the tale. [Clapham, 7:779.] While these works may seem diffuse by symphonic standards, they actually follow literary rather than musical conventions more closely. Their literary sources define the sequence of events and the course of the musical action. The fifth poem, "Heroic Song", is the only one not to have a detailed program.MacDonald, 18:430.]


The development of the symphonic poem in Russia, as in the Czech lands, reflected that country's admiration for Liszt's music as well as a devotion to national subjects. Critic Vladimir Stasov wrote, "Virtually all Russian music is programmatic," and the Russian love of story-telling foung wide expression in the symphonic poem. Stasov and The Mighty Handful considered Mikhail Glinka's "Kamarinskaya" a prototype of Russian descriptive music, despite the fact that its composer denied that the piece had any program.MacDonald, 18:430.]

Both Stasov and Mili Balakirev fully embraced the symphonic poem, as did other members of the Handful. Balakirev's "Tamara", closely based on the poem by Mikhail Lermontov, is richly evocative of the fairy-tale orient, well-paced and full of atmosphere.MacDonald, 18:430.] "In Bohemia" (originally "Overture on Czech Themes," 1867, 1905) and "Russia" ("Second overture on Russian themes," 1884 version) are looser gatherings of national melodies without narrative content. Modest Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" and Alexander Borodin's "In the Steppes of Central Asia" are powerful orchestral pieces, each one unique in its composer's output.MacDonald, 18:430.] Titled a "musical portrait," "In the Steppes of Central Asia" restates and eventually combines in counterpoint a peaceful, diatonic Russian theme and a rhythmically more supple oriental theme in varying harmonies and scorings against a perpetual ostinato, evoking the journey of a caravan across the steppes. [Barnes, 3:59.] In "Night on Bald Mountain", especially in its original version, the harmony is often striking, sometimes pungent and highly abrasive; its initial stretches especially grab the listener into a vivid world intimidating world conjured with uncompromising brutal directness and energy. [Brown, "Mussorgsky", 92.]

The Five were not the only ones interested in the symphonic poem. While none of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's symphonic poems has a Russian subject, they are nonetheless highly developed, with the requirements of musical form and literary material held in balance.MacDonald, 18:430.] (Interestingly, Tchaikovsky did not call "Romeo and Juliet" a symphonic poem but rather a "fantasy-overture," and the work may actually be closer to a concert overture in its relatively stringent use of sonata form. It was the suggestion of the work's musical mid-wife, Balakirev, to base "Romeo" structurally on his "King Lear", a tragic overture in sonata form after the example of Beethoven's overtures.) [Maes, 64, 73.]

Perhaps surprisingly considering his love for Russian folklore, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov wrote only two orchestral works that could be considered symphonic poems, his "musical tableau" "Sadko" (1867-92) and "Skaka" ("Legend", 1879-80), originally titled "Baba-Yaga". While both "Antar" and "Sheherazade" are both conceived similarly to these works, they are categorized by their composer as symphonic suites. Russian follklore also provided material for symphonic poems by Alexander Dargomyzhsky, Anatoly Lyadov and Alexander Glazunov. Lyadov's "Baba-Yaga" "Kikimora" and "The Enchanted Lake" show a deep feeling for national subjects, as does Glazunov's "Stenka Razin".MacDonald, 18:430.] The Lyadov works' lack of purposeful harmonic rhythm (a absence less noticeable in "Baba-Yaga" and "Kikimora" due to a superficial but still exhilarating bustle and whirl) produces a sense of unreality and timelessness much like the telling of an oft-repeated and much loved fairy tale. [Spencer, J., 11:384.]

Among later Russian symphonic poems, Sergei Rachmaninoff's "The Rock" betrays his indebtedness to Tchaikovsky, while "Isle of the Dead" (1909) displays a masterly independence. Igor Stravinsky shows a similar debt to his teacher rimsky-Korsakov in "The Song of the Nightengale", extracted expertly from his opera "The Nightengale". Alexander Scriabin's "Poem of Ecstasy" (1905-08) and "" (1908-10) are twin peaks in his orchestral output; they are remarkable in detail, in their advanced harmonic idiom and in their projection of an egocentric theosophic world unparalleled elsewhere.MacDonald, 18:430.]

With the advent of socialist realism, program music survived longer in the Soviet Union than in western Europe, as shown by Dmitri Shostakovich's symphonic poem "October" (1967). [MacDonald, 18:429-30.]


While France was less concerned than other countries with nationalism, [Spencer, 1233] it still had a well-established tradition of narrative and illustrative music reaching back to Berlioz and Félician David. For this reason, French composers were attracted to the poetic elements of the symphonic poem. In fact, César Franck had written an orchestral piece based on Hugo's poem "Ce qu'on entend sur le montagne" before Liszt did so himself as his first numbered symphonic poem.MacDonald, 18:431.]

The symphonic poem came into vogue in France in the 1870s, supported by the newly-founded Société Nationale and its promotion of younger French composers. In the year after its foundation, 1872, Camille Saint-Saëns composed his "Le rouet d'Omphale". He soon followed up this effort with three more, the most famous of which became the "Danse Macabre" (1874).MacDonald, 18:431.] In all four of these works Saint-Saens experimented with orchestration and thematic transformation. "La jeunesse d'Hercule" (1877) was written closest in style to Liszt. The other three concentrate on some physical movement—spinning, riding, dancing—which is portrayed in musical terms. He had previously experimented with thematic transformation in his program overture "Spartacus"; he would later use it in his Fourth Piano Concerto and Third Symphony. [Fallon and Ratner, "New Grove 2", 22:127.]

Saint-Saëns was followed by Vincent d'Indy, whose trilogy "Wallenstein" (1873, 1879-81) was called "three symphonic overtures" but could actually be compared with Smetana's "Ma vlast" in overall scope. Henri Duparc's "Lenore" (1875) introduced the warmth of Wagnerian harmony into French music. Franck returned to the symphonic poem in 1876 with the delicately evocative "Les Eolides"; he would follow it with the narrative "Le chasseur maudit" six years later. Ernest Chausson's "Vivane" is a good example of the penchant shown by lesser compoosers in the Franck circle for settings of mythological subjects, in deference to Wagner. Franck returned to the symphonic pooem in 1876 with the delicately evocatiove "Les Eolides", following it up six years later with the step-by-step narrative of "Le Chasseur Maudit". "Les Djinns" followed in 1884; Franck wrote this piece for piano and orchestra in much the same manner as Liszt's "Totentanz".MacDonald, 18:431.]

Three symphonic poems hold a special place in French music. Claude Debussy originally intended his "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune" (1892-4) as part of a triptych. In the composer's own words the music is "a very free illustration ... a succession of settings through which the Faun's desires and dreams move in the afternoon heat." Paul Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is a distinctive example of the narrative-style symphonic poem, told within an assured orchestral style. Maurice Ravel's "La Valse" (1921) is considered by some critics a parody of the highest order—a portrait of Vienna in an idiom no Viennese would recognize as his own.MacDonald, 18:431.]

Two other French composers carried the symphonic poem well into the 20th century. Albert Roussel's first major orchestral work was a symphonic poem based on Leo Tolstoy's novel "Resurrection" (1903). he soon followed this work with "Le poèm de forêt" (1904-6), which is in four movements written in cyclic form. "Pour une fête de printemps" (1920), initially conceived as the slow movement of Roussel's Second Symphony, became an unusually reflective celebration of spring. Charles Koechlin also wrote several symphonic poems, the best known of which are included in his cycle based on "The Jungle Book" by Rudyard Kipling.MacDonald, 18:431.] These seven works (actually four symphonic poems plus three orchestral songs) form the core of Koechlin's orchestral output; the composition and revision of this cycle, lasting less than 75 minutes in performance, occupied its composer over 40 years. The music ranges from demonic energy to diaphanous luminosity arising from chords using superimposed fourths or fifths. Koechlin's compositional ideas were complex and found their most natural expression in orchestral works. In composing these works, he defended the viability of the symphonic poem long after it had gone out of vogue. [Orledge, 10:146.]


While Liszt, working in Germany, and Richard Strauss represent respectively the beginning and the high point of the symphonic poem,MacDonald, 18:431.] [Spencer, 1234.] the form itself was less well received in Germany than in other countries. This lack of interest was due to the dominance of Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner on the German musical scene. Neither of these men wrote symphonic poems, devoting themselves completely to music drama (Wagner) and absolute music (Brahms). Therefore, other than Strauss and numerous concert overtures by others, there are only isolated symphonic poems by German and Austrian composers. These include Hans von Bulow's "Nirwana" (1866), Hugo Wolf's " Penthesilea" (1883-5) and Arnold Schonberg's "Pelleas und Melisande" (1902-3). Because of its clear relationship between poem and music, Schonberg's "Verklärte Nacht" (1899) is a symphonic poem for string quartet and is thus a rare non-orchestral example of the genre.MacDonald, 18:431.]

Richard Strauss began writing program music under the direct influence of Alexander Ritter, who himself composed six symphonic poems in the vein of Liszt's works. He came to the symphonic poem by way of a program symphony, "Aus Italien" (1886-8) Strauss wedded a new level of complexity to orchestral technique to a treatment of subject matter previously considered ill-suited to musical illustration. By taking realism to unprecedented lengths, he extended the boundaries of program music as well as widened the expressive functions of music. In the years immediately preceding World War I, Strauss's tone poems were considered among the vanguard of modernism—an indication of how rapidly the symphonic poem had taken hold of public imagination within half a century.Tod und Verklärung" ("Death and Transfiguration", 1888–1889) contrasts sharply with the high spirits of "Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche" ("Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks", 1894–95), while "Don Quixote" (1898) cleverly captures Miguel de Cervantes' worldly vision behind the outlandish exploits of his knight. In "Also Sprach Zarathustra" Strauss attemptes to give musical expression to eight passages from Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical poem, rather than to the entire work. He explained, "I meant to convey in music an idea of the evolution of the human race from its origin, through the various phases of development, religious as well as scientific, up to Nietzsche's idea of the "Übermensch"." In "Ein Heldenleben" ("A Hero's Life", 1897–98) he attempts to give his own life increased significance, portraying himself as archetypal hero-artist in conflict with his enemies. He continued this autobiographical trend in the "Sinfonia Domestica" ("Domestic Symphony", 1902–03), a piece which for all of its musical interest has been hampered by its unashamed treatment of the trivial in everyday life. [MacDonald, 18:431-2.]

Strauss shows tremendous skill in his handling of form, both in thematic transformation and in interweaving separate themes in elaborate orchestral counterpoint. His handling of variation form in "Don Quixote" without losing track of the narrative is especially felicitous. "Till Eulenspiegel", while described on the title page as being in rondo form, is actually as episodic as the story it depicts, with a single, compressed recapitulation and the entire piece neatly enclosed in a prologue and epilogue of touching simplicity.MacDonald, 18:432.]

The vividness and descriptive power of these works is directly due to the virtuosity of Strauss's orchestration. He usually requires a large orchestra, with extra instruments such as the quartet of saxophones in the "Sinfonia Domestica" or the offstage brass of "Ein Heldenleben". He also uses instruments for sharp characterization; this is best exemplified by his use of solo cello and tenor tuba to portary Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, respectively. His portrayal of sheep with "cuivré" brass in "Don Quixote" has been considered especially skillful by many critics.MacDonald, 18:432.]

Strauss is considered to have had the confidence, perhaps even effrontery, of a composer whose mastery of technique could be seen as complete. Nevertheless, he is generally seen to have succeeded best where his pretensions were less exalted and where wit and imagination were more highly valued than profundity.MacDonald, 18:432.]

Other countries and decline

Jean Sibelius showed a great affinity for the form, writing well over a dozen symphonic poems and numerous shorter works. These works span his entire career, from "En Saga" (1892) to "Tapiola" (1926), expressing more clearly than anything else his identification to Finland and its mythology. The "Kalevala" provided ideal episodes and texts for musical setting; this coupled with Sibelius's natural aptitude for symphonic writing allowed him to write taut, organic structures for many of these works, especially "Tapiola" (1926). "Pohjola's Daughter" (1906), which Sibelius called a "symphonic fantasy," is the most closely dependent onn its program while also showing a sureness of outline rare in other composers.MacDonald, 18:432.] With the compositional approach he took from the Third Symphony onward, Sibelius sought to overcome the distinction between symphony and tone poem to fuse their most basic principles—the symphony's traditional claims of weight, musical abstraction, gravitas and formal dialogue with seminal works of the past; and the tone poem's structural innovation and sponteneity, identifiable poetic content and inventive sonority. However, the stylistic distinction between symphony, "fantasy" and tone poem in Sibelius's late works becomes blurred since ideas first sketched for one piece ended up in another. [Hepokoski, "New Grove 2", 23:334.]

The symphonic poem did not enjoy as clear a sense of national identity in other countries, even though numerous works ot the kind were written. Composers included Arnold Bax in Great Britain; Edward MacDowell, Howard Hanson and George Gershwin in the United States; and Ottorino Respighi in Italy. Also, with the rejection of Romantic ideals in the 20th century and their repacement with ideals of abstraction and independence of music, the writing of symphonic poems went into decline.MacDonald, 18:432.]

In popular culture

Many symphonic poems have entered popular culture through their use in media and film as early as the 1930s, with Erich Korngold's use of excerpts from Liszt's "Mazeppa" in the Errol Flynn movie "Captain Blood" and a recurrent use of "Les Preludes" in the "Flash Gordon" serial. Other works used have included Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and Paul Dukas's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice".

ee also

*List of symphonic poems



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