List of symphonies by key


List of symphonies by key

This list of symphonies by key is a list of famous symphonies sorted by key. For the least often used keys in orchestral music, the symphony listed might be famous only for being in that key.

C major

In the Classical period, C major was the key most often chosen for symphonies with trumpets and drums. Even in the Romantic period, with its greater use of minor keys and the permission to use trumpets and drums in any key, C major remained a very popular choice of key for a symphony. The following list only includes the most famous specimens. For a more complete list, see list of symphonies in C major.

*Ludwig van Beethoven
**Symphony No. 1, op. 21 (1800)
*Georges Bizet
**Symphony in C (1855)
*Paul Dukas
**Symphony in C (1896)
*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 97
*Michael Haydn
** Symphony No. 39 in C major, MH 478, Perger 31 (1788)
*Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
**Symphony No. 36, K. 425 "Linz" (1783)
**Symphony No. 41, K. 551 "Jupiter" (1788)
*Sergei Prokofiev
**Symphony No. 4 (original version), Op. 47, 1930
**Symphony No. 4 (revised version), Op. 112, 1947
*Franz Schubert
**Symphony No. 6, D. 589
**Symphony No. 9, D. 944 "The Great" (1828)
*Robert Schumann
**Symphony No. 2, op. 61 (1846)
*Dmitri Shostakovich
**Symphony No. 7, op. 60 "Leningrad" (1942)
*Jean Sibelius
**Symphony No. 3, op. 52 (1907)
**Symphony No. 7, op. 105 (1924)
*Igor Stravinsky
**Symphony in C (1940)

C minor

The key of C minor was, like most other minor keys, associated with the literary Sturm und Drang movement during the Classical period. But ever since Ludwig van Beethoven's famous Symphony No. 5, op. 67 of 1808, C minor imparts a symphony in the key a character of heroic struggle. Early classical symphonies in the key typically ended in C minor but with a picardy third for the very final chord. Following Beethoven's precedent, most C minor symphonies of the Romantic period end in C major. Another option is to end in E-flat major, as Mahler does.

For a more complete listing, see list of symphonies in C minor.

*Johannes Brahms
**Symphony No. 1, op. 68 (1876)
*Anton Bruckner
**Symphony No. 1 (1868)
**Symphony No. 2 (1872)
**Symphony No. 8 (1887)
*Alexander Glazunov
**Symphony No. 6, Op. 48
*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 52
**Symphony No. 95
*Gustav Mahler
**Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection" (1894)
*Camille Saint-Saëns
**Symphony No. 3, op. 78 "Organ" (1886)
*Alexander Scriabin
**Symphony No. 2, op. 29 (1902)
**Symphony No. 3, op. 43 "The Divine Poem" (1904)
*Dmitri Shostakovich
**Symphony No. 4, op. 43 (1936)
**Symphony No. 8, op. 65 (1943)

C sharp minor

Even by Mahler's time symphonies in C-sharp minor were rare. Some of the works listed below might have no claim to fame besides being in this key.

*Arnold Bax
**Symphony No. 5
*Ernest Bloch
**Symphony in C sharp minor (1902 [http://homepage3.nifty.com/bloch/chronologicallist.htm] )
*Joseph Martin Kraus
**Symphony in C-sharp minor, VB 140. Identified by musicologist Bertil van Boer in programme notes for the Naxos recording as one of only two C-sharp minor Symphonies in the 18th Century.
*Gustav Mahler
**Symphony No. 5 (1902) - Mahler objected to this key assignment, preferring none at all
*Nikolai Myaskovsky
**Symphony No. 2 (1910-11 [http://www.myaskovsky.ru/?id=4&id1=0&id2=12&sf=0&so=0] )
*Sergei Prokofiev
**Symphony No. 7, op. 131 (1952)
*Ture Rangström
**Symphony No. 1 "August Strindberg in Memoriam" (1914)
*Vissarion Shebalin
**Symphony No. 2 (1929 [http://home.wanadoo.nl/ovar/shebalin.htm] )

D flat major

Symphonies in D-flat major are much rarer than those in C-sharp minor and one has to look beyond the standard core repertoire to find them.

*Erwin Dressel
**Symphony in D-flat major (1928)
* Anastazy Wilhelm Dreszer (1843 - 1907)
** Symphony No. 1, Opus 3 (1865) [Walter Frisch, "Brahms: The Four Symphonies" New Haven: Yale University Press (2003): 8. In a "chronological listing of symphonies by contemporary composers published" in the time between Schumann's Third and Brahms's First.]
*Nikolai Myaskovsky
**Symphony No. 25, op. 69 (1945-6) [cite web|title=Page about Myaskovsky Symphony No. 25
url=http://www.myaskovsky.ru/?id=4&id1=3&id2=80&sf=0&so=0|publisher=Myaskovsky Official Site|accessdate=2007-11-19
]
*Ture Rangström
**Symphony No. 3, "Song under the Stars"

D major

Baroque and Classical symphonies in D major typically used horns in D (reading a seventh down) and when they used trumpets, trumpets in D reading a step up. The following list includes only the most famous of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods. For a more complete list, see list of symphonies in D major.

*Ludwig van Beethoven
**Symphony No. 2, op. 36 (1802)
*Johannes Brahms
**Symphony No. 2, op. 73 (1877)
*Antonín Dvořák
**Symphony No. 6, op. 60, B. 112 (1880)
*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 13 (1763)
**Symphony No. 70 (1779)
**Symphony No. 93
**Symphony No. 96 "Miracle"
**Symphony No. 101 "Clock"
**Symphony No. 104 "London" (1795)
*Gustav Mahler
**Symphony No. 1 (1888)
**Symphony No. 9 (1910)
*Felix Mendelssohn
**Symphony No. 5, op. 107 "Reformation" (1830)
*Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
**Symphony No. 31, K. 297 "Paris" (1778)
**Symphony No. 35, K. 385 "Haffner" (1782)
**Symphony No. 38, K. 504 "Prague" (1786)
*Sergei Prokofiev
**Symphony No. 1, op. 25 "Classical" (1917)
*Jean Sibelius
**Symphony No. 2, op. 43 (1902)
*Ralph Vaughan Williams
**Symphony No. 5 - nominally in the key

D minor

Baroque and Classical symphonies in D minor usually used 2 horns in F (whereas for most other minor keys 2 or 4 horns were used, half in the tonic and half in the relative major). Michael Haydn's Symphony No. 29 in D minor is notable for using two trumpets in D (the horns are in F but change to D for the coda of the finale). In the Romantic era, D minor symphonies, like symphonies in almost any other key, used horns in F and trumpets in B-flat.

The following list only includes the most famous D minor symphonies. For a more complete listing, see list of symphonies in D minor.

*Ludwig van Beethoven
**Symphony No. 9, op. 125 "Choral" (1824)
*Havergal Brian
**Symphony No. 1 "Gothic" (1927)
*Anton Bruckner
**Symphony No. 9 (1896, inc.)
*Antonín Dvořák
**Symphony No. 7, op. 70, B. 141 (1885)
*César Franck
**Symphony in D minor
*Gustav Mahler
**Symphony No. 3 (1896)
*Robert Schumann
**Symphony No. 4, op. 120 (1841)
*Dmitri Shostakovich
**Symphony No. 5, op. 47 (1937)

E-flat major

For a more complete listing of E-flat major symphonies, see list of symphonies in E flat major.

*Ludwig van Beethoven
**Symphony No. 3, op. 55 "Eroica" (1804)
*Alexander Borodin
**Symphony No. 1 (before 1869)
*Anton Bruckner
**Symphony No. 4 "Romantic" (1874)
*Edward Elgar
**Symphony No. 2, op. 63 (1911)
*Alexander Glazunov
**Symphony No. 4, Op. 48
*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 22 "The Philosopher" (1764)
**Symphony No. 99
**Symphony No. 103 "Drumroll" (1795)
*Gustav Mahler
**Symphony No. 8 "Symphony of a Thousand" (1907)
*Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
**Symphony No. 1, K. 16 (1764)
**Symphony No. 39, K. 543 (1788)
*Robert Schumann
**Symphony No. 3, op. 97 "Rhenish" (1850)
*Dmitri Shostakovich
**Symphony No. 3, op. 20 "First of May" (1931)
**Symphony No. 9, op. 70 (1945)
*Jean Sibelius
**Symphony No. 5, op. 82 (1915)
*Igor Stravinsky
**Symphony in E-flat (1907)

E flat minor

The two examples of symphonies in E flat minor that come up most readily are both Sixth Symphonies by Soviet composers.

*Nikolai Myaskovsky
**Symphony No. 6, op. 23 (1921-3)
*Sergei Prokofiev
**Symphony No. 6, op. 111 (1947)

E major

In the classical period, symphonies in E major used horns in E but no trumpets. For a more complete list, see List of symphonies in E major.

*Anton Bruckner
**Symphony No. 7 (1883)
*Alexander Scriabin
**Symphony No. 1, op.26 (1900)

E minor

For a more complete listing of E minor symphonies, see list of symphonies in E minor.

*Johannes Brahms
**Symphony No. 4, op. 98 (1885)
*Antonín Dvořák
**Symphony No. 9, op. 95, B. 178 (1893)
*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 44 "Trauer" (1770)
*Gustav Mahler
**Symphony No. 7 (1906)
*Sergei Rachmaninoff
**Symphony No. 2, op. 27 (1907)
*Dmitri Shostakovich
**Symphony No. 10, op. 93 (1948)
*Jean Sibelius
**Symphony No. 1, op. 39 (1898)
*Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
**Symphony No. 5, op. 64 (1888)
*Ralph Vaughan Williams
**Symphony No. 6 (1948)
**Symphony No. 9 (1957)

F major

For a more complete listing of symphonies in F major, see list of symphonies in F major.

*Ludwig van Beethoven
**Symphony No. 6, op. 68 "Pastoral" (1808)
**Symphony No. 8, op. 93 (1812)
*Johannes Brahms
**Symphony No. 3, op. 90 (1883)
*Antonín Dvořák
**Symphony No. 5, op. 76, B. 54 (1875)
*Alexander Glazunov
**Symphony No. 7, Op. 48

F minor

Even in the Sturm und Drang era, F minor was not a frequent choice for a minor key symphony, though Haydn did contribute one.

*Anton Bruckner
**Study Symphony in F minor
*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 49 "La Passione" (1768)
*Martin Scherber
**Symphony No. 2 (1951-52)
*Dmitri Shostakovich
**Symphony No. 1, op. 10 (1925)
*Richard Strauss
**Symphony in F minor
*Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
**Symphony No. 4, op. 36 (1878)
*Ralph Vaughan Williams
**Symphony No. 4 (1934)

F sharp major

The only notable symphony written explicitly in F sharp major is Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Symphony in F sharp major, op. 40 of 1950. Sometimes Mahler's Tenth is considered to be in this key.

F sharp minor

Though it has just three sharps and its relative major was used somewhat frequently, F sharp minor was an unusual choice of key in the Classical era.

*George Frederick Bristow
**Symphony in F-sharp minor, opus 26
*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 45 "Farewell" (1772)
*Gustav Mahler
**Symphony No. 10 (1911, inc.)

G major

In the Baroque and Classical periods, G major was one of the most often used keys. Classical symphonies in G major typically had horns in G but no trumpets. In the Romantic era the key was less often used. The following list only includes the most famous works. For a more complete list, see list of symphonies in G major.

*Antonín Dvořák
**Symphony No. 8, op. 88, B. 163 (1889)
*George Dyson
**Symphony in G major (1937)
*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 8 "Le Soir" (1761)
**Symphony No. 88 (late 1780s)
**Symphony No. 92 "Oxford" (1791)
**Symphony No. 94 "Surprise" (1791)
**Symphony No. 100 "Military" (1794)
*Gustav Mahler
**Symphony No. 4 (1901)
*Ralph Vaughan Williams
**Symphony No. 2 "A London Symphony" (1914)

G minor

In the Classical period, symphonies in G minor almost always used four horns, two in G and two in B-flat alto. [H. C. Robbins Landon, "Mozart and Vienna". New York: Schirmer Books (1991): 48. "Writing for four horns was a regular part of the "Sturm und Drang" G minor equipment." Robbins Landon also notes that Mozart's No. 40 was first intended to have four horns.] G minor was a frequent choice for minor key symphonies, and as late as the 20th Century it was thought it was the only minor key Mozart used for symphonies.

For a more complete listing of G minor symphonies, see list of symphonies in G minor.

*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 39 (1767)
*Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
**Symphony No. 25, K. 183 "Little G minor" (1773)
**Symphony No. 40, K. 550 "Great G minor" (1788)
*Ernest John Moeran
**Symphony in G Minor (1937)
*Carl Nielsen
**Symphony No.1 (1891)
*Dmitri Shostakovich
**Symphony No. 11, op. 103 "The Year 1905" (1957)

G sharp minor

G sharp minor is often used for piano music, but not so much for orchestral music in general.

*Nikolai Myaskovsky
** Symphony No. 17 in G sharp minor

A flat major

Although A flat major was chosen often enough for inner movements of symphonies in other keys (most notably slow movements of C minor symphonies), there are very few symphonies with A flat major as their main key. This very short list that follows may therefore contain some works which are notable for no other reason than their key.

*Edward Elgar
**Symphony No. 1, op. 55 (1908)
*Johann Baptist Vanhal
**Symphony in A flat major, Bryan Ab1 [Paul Bryan, "Johann Waṅhall, Viennese Symphonist: His Life and His Musical Environment" Stuyvesant: Pendragon Press (1997): 330. The manuscript copy at Donaueschingen gives the key as "A" while the one at Prague gives it as "Gis" (G-sharp).]

A major

The following list only includes the most famous A major symphonies. For a more complete listing, see list of symphonies in A major.

*Ludwig van Beethoven
**Symphony No. 7, op. 92 (1812)
*Anton Bruckner
**Symphony No. 6 (1881)
*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 59, "Fire" (before 1769)
**Symphony No. 64, "Tempora mutantur" (1778)
*Felix Mendelssohn
**Symphony No. 4, op. 90 "Italian" (1833)
*Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
**Symphony No. 29, K. 201 (1774)
*Dmitri Shostakovich
**Symphony No. 15, op. 141 (1971)

A minor

For a more complete listing of A minor symphonies, see list of symphonies in A minor.
*Gustav Mahler
**Symphony No. 6 "Tragic" (1904)
*Felix Mendelssohn
**Symphony No. 3, op. 56 "Scottish" (1842)
*Sergei Rachmaninoff
**Symphony No. 3, op. 44 (1936)
*Jean Sibelius
**Symphony No. 4, op. 63 (1911)

B flat major

Haydn's Symphony No. 98 is credited as the first symphony he (or anyone else) wrote in B flat major in which he included trumpet and timpani parts. Actually, his brother Michael Haydn had written one such symphony earlier, No. 36. However, Joseph still gets credit for writing the timpani part at actual pitch with an F major key signature (instead of transposing with a C major key signature), a procedure that made sense since he limited that instrument to the tonic and dominant pitches. [H. C. Robbins Landon, "Haydn Symphonies" London: British Broadcasting Corporation (1966): 57] Many editions of the work, however, use no key signature and specify the instrument as "Timpani in B flat - F." (Note that in German, the pitch B flat is called "B", and B natural is "H", thus the specification for timpani in a B flat work could be written "Pauken in B. - F.")

The following list only includes the most famous works in this key. For a more complete listing, see list of symphonies in B flat major.

*Ludwig van Beethoven
**Symphony No. 4, op. 60 (1806)
*Anton Bruckner
**Symphony No. 5 (1876)
*Ernest Chausson
**Symphony in B flat, op. 20 (1890)
*Alexander Glazunov
**Symphony No. 5, Op. 48
*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 98
**Symphony No. 102
*Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
**Symphony No. 33, K. 319 (1779)
*Sergei Prokofiev
**Symphony No. 5, op. 100 (1944)
*Franz Schubert
**Symphony No. 5, D. 485 (1816)
*Robert Schumann
**Symphony No. 1, op. 38 "Spring" (1841)

B flat minor

B flat minor occurs often enough in the piano repertoire, much less so in the orchestral repertoire.

*Dmitri Shostakovich
**Symphony No. 13, op. 113 "Babi Yar" (1962)
*William Walton
**Symphony No. 1 (1932-35)

B major

Haydn's use of B major for a symphony in the 18th Century was deemed "extraordinary". [Antony Hodgson, "The Music of Joseph Haydn: The Symphonies". London: The Tantivy Press (1976): 74. "Symphony No. 46 in B is again an example of an extraordinary key."]

*Joseph Haydn
**Symphony No. 46 (1772)
*Erich Wolfgang Korngold
** Sinfonietta op. 5 (1912)
*Dmitri Shostakovich
**Symphony No. 2, op. 14 "To October" (1927)

B minor

B minor claims some famous symphonies in the repertoire, as well as a few lesser known ones.

*Alexander Borodin
**Symphony No. 2 (1876)
*Franz Schubert
**Symphony No. 8, D. 759 "Unfinished" (1822, inc.)
*Dmitri Shostakovich
**Symphony No. 6, op. 54 (1939)
*Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
**Manfred Symphony, op. 58 (1885)
**Symphony No. 6, op. 74 "Pathétique" (1893)

ee also

*List of piano concertos by key

References


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