What Symphonies should I listen to?

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boomski
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What Symphonies should I listen to?

Post by boomski » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:28 am

So I was at the last rehearsal for the community orchestra I play in last night, and the conductor starts talking about all of the pieces that we are going to play next year. Everyone (well, most people) started oooing and ahhhing over all of the songs; I just sat there hearing only names and numbers...

I did not go to music school, or listen to classical music in high school/college so I'm hoping the collective here can recommend some symphonic musical listening that would help broaden my horizon. Of course I'm familiar with some, and there are more I'm sure I know the tune but not the name.

Any suggestions?
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BGuttman
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Re: What Symphonies should I listen to?

Post by BGuttman » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:05 am

If you can remember (or if they are listed on a Web site) you should listen to the ones your orchestra will play next season.

A lot of popular symphonies don't use trombones, but they are certainly interesting to listen to.

A few of the more popular symphonies I can list off-hand:

Beethoven Symphony 5 (and listen to any of them. Number 9 also has a chorus.)
Berlioz Symphony Fantastique (one early example of "program music")
Brahms Symphony 1 (there are 4 and I think all are interesting. Brahms 2 has the "lullaby" theme).
Dvorak Symphony 9 "From the New World" (also called #5, just to confuse you)
Mahler Symphony 1 (listen to a fugue on "Frere Jacques")
Mendelssohn Symphony 3 "Scottish", Symphony 4 "Italian".
Schubert Symphony 8 (it's only 2 movements; also called "Unfinished". Schubert wrote a few more)
Tchaikovsky Symphony 5 (the "big 3" are 4, 5, and 6).

Other pieces that are not symphonies but are interesting:
Bernstein: Overture to "Candide"
Bizet: L'Arlesiendne Suite #2. Listen for a bass trombone part that goes up pretty high in the Farandole
Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man (it's only for brass and percussion)
Strauss: Til Eulenspiegel (Strauss wrote a bunch of these tone poems. Later forms of "program music")
Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet, Capriccio Espagnol

There are so many more. Listen to Mozart or Haydn to hear what a symphony sounds like before trombones were popular. For Mozart usually 40 or 41 and for Haydn "Surprise" (don't remember the number off-hand).
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
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boomski
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Re: What Symphonies should I listen to?

Post by boomski » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:23 am

Thanks Bruce, appreciate the recommendations!

Since I've gotten back into Trombone I've been listening to versions of any songs I've played, including the pieces with this symphony, so I'll certainly be listening when the official list comes out.

I'm trying to prepare outside of that and listen to as much as I can. Especially since we don't meet as a group again until October.
VJOFan
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Re: What Symphonies should I listen to?

Post by VJOFan » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:24 am

I agree with Mr. Guttman above to start with what you are going to play next year. This "professional" listening is a good habit.

Otherwise for general listening, when I first decided to become a better listener, one thing that helped was to focus on one topic or composer at a time.

I remember a Christmas holiday week when all my roommates had left and I had the place to myself. That was Bruckner week. At the beginning of the week I didn't really know how to even situate the composer in a timeline. By the end I could tell I was listening to some Bruckner from a few bars. While listening I also read books about the history of the composer and the liner notes of the albums.

The other thing that I eventually learned to do was to listen more like a conductor (discerning what instruments are really telling the story of a piece at any particular time). If you do that, you'll start to understand why it seems like conductors are always giving trombones the hand until randomly (it seems) there is one bar where they want everything you've got.
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elmsandr
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Re: What Symphonies should I listen to?

Post by elmsandr » Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:41 am

For fun, the Chicago Symphony released a 108 CD box set last year of the complete recordings with Georg Solti. For ~$3 per disc it is a great value and will get you a complete Beethoven cycle, Mahler cycle, and Bruckner cycle plus another 50+ hours of other recordings. Great way to hear ~30 years of a great orchestra season highlights.

Track list:
https://www.deccaclassics.com/us/cat/4831375

Highly recommend.
Andy
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Re: What Symphonies should I listen to?

Post by Kbiggs » Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:35 am

Here’s a link to the League of American Orchestras’ Orchestral Repertoire Report. It lists most frequently played composers, pieces, etc., by year, with 2011-2012 being the most current. (It doesn’t state why they haven’t continued the report to the present.) It has some other categories, too, if you find that helpful.

https://americanorchestras.org/knowledg ... bycomposer
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AndrewMeronek
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Re: What Symphonies should I listen to?

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sat Jun 23, 2018 10:03 am

elmsandr wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:41 am
For fun, the Chicago Symphony released a 108 CD box set last year of the complete recordings with Georg Solti. For ~$3 per disc it is a great value and will get you a complete Beethoven cycle, Mahler cycle, and Bruckner cycle plus another 50+ hours of other recordings. Great way to hear ~30 years of a great orchestra season highlights.

Track list:
https://www.deccaclassics.com/us/cat/4831375

Highly recommend.
Andy
:amazed: :amazed: :amazed:
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
sf105
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Re: What Symphonies should I listen to?

Post by sf105 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 12:54 pm

BBC Radio3 has a weekly programme called CD Review (showing its age?). It includes excellent recording reviews and a section called "Building a library" which exhaustively compares all the recordings of a piece. I believe you can stream this even in the US. Also, Building a Library is a BBC podcast. It's a bit intense when you start, but you get used to it.
CalgaryTbone
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Re: What Symphonies should I listen to?

Post by CalgaryTbone » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:51 am

A lot of good suggestions so far, and I would just jump in to say there are two different reasons to start listening to symphonic repertoire - 1. to learn music that you may have to play; 2. to develop an appreciation of the art form in general so you can enjoy it in a more informed way, and can join in discussions of it with your friends in your orchestra.

I think both are really worthwhile pursuits - too many musicians only learn "their tunes". Some of the best music offered in the Classical repertoire, unfortunately either doesn't have trombones, or only has minimal parts. That rep is still worth checking out as a listener for the sake of knowledge and for listening pleasure.

There are lots of recording lists out there that are marketed as "Classical Hits" or something like that. Those are a good place to start for general knowledge. Then there are orchestral excerpt books on the market that are meant for study of the trombone parts for performers. If you even check out the table of contents of some of those, that would be a good place to start finding out what are the big "tunes" for your instrument.

Enjoy!

Jim Scott
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