The Russian Symphony Series: A Wrap-up

Well, we’ve come a long way. Almost 100 years, to be exact, with some leaps and skips here and there, and there’s obviously plenty we didn’t get to. If you haven’t been following along, you can reach the entire series by clicking on the Russian Symphony Series link under Series in the menu on the home page.

Even with an excuse (“they didn’t write symphonies”) to exclude people like Lyadov, Glinka or Mussorgsky, there are still plenty of others who did:

Edison Denisov

Rheinhold Gliere

Sofia Gubaidulina

Aram Khachaturian (yes, Armenian)

Nikolai Roslavets

Vladimir Shcherbachov

Alfred Schnittke

Maximillian Steinberg

Alexander Taneyev

Sergei Taneyev (distant cousins)

Boris Tchaikovsky (no relation; boy he must have gotten sick of that)

Alexander Tcherepnin

Galina Ustvolskaya

Of course neither the series nor the list can be anything approaching comprehensive, but these are some of the notables that I’d try to include if we did another series.

Granted, the farther away you get from the ‘mainstream’ or the main body of the educators and influences we discussed these past three months, the less easy (I assume) it is to string them together like we did here. As each composer takes new directions, in the twentieth century, as everyone gets a little bolder and reacts to Soviet or other pressures differently, music changes in like manner.

Even the composers aside, there are other, arguably greater works of some of the composers we discussed. Rubinstein’s fifth comes to mind from the beginning. Rimsky-Korsakov’s  Scheherazade is a symphony in all but name, sort of. Tchaikovsky’s possible greatest symphonic work, the Pathetique, we have still not yet discussed, but neither his second, third or the Manfred symphonies. Glazunov wrote many symphonies, and the third is not considered his masterpiece. Rachmaninoff’s third needs a revisit, and Scriabin’s got more under his belt than his first. Stravinsky’s first is a nice one, but he has other ‘symphonies’ that have gained far greater attention, and we’ll get to them too.

Myaskovsky wrote a total of 27 symphonies, but like I said, we won’t be getting around to those anytime soon, I’m afraid. Shostakovich’s seventh is arguably the gem in the crown of his symphonic output, and we’ve already done the first and fifth; those are the biggest, but he offers another dozen besides those three. Prokofiev: we’ve done 1 and 7 already, revisited 4 (twice) and finished with five.

So despite the thing being outrageously incomplete and perhaps a little bit lopsided in its approach to which works of the composers we did, I feel it was a pretty solid, very enlightening affair. And while I’ve enjoyed it very much, I’m also extremely eager to get on to other things, which we shall do promptly. Still symphonic for now, and it’s a series that will also lay hold of the blog for a couple of months, but it’ll be much more…. varied. You’ll see. Keep listening and reading.


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