The 2nd 4th Symphony

Schumann’s 4th Symphony, as you might guess from the title of this post, has a rather checkered history. It’s one of the composer’s most original works – which might go some way toward explaining the rather chilly reception it got when first performed in 1841.

The score languished on Schumann’s work desk for ten years; then, in 1851, he decided to re-orchestrate and slightly re-jig the piece, and, after some agonising over the title, published it as his 4th Symphony.


The originality? The symphony is really a one movement piece with much of its musical material derived from a motif heard at the beginning of the work:

There’s more to this little phrase than meets the eye (or should that be ear?) — elucidation on Wednesday.

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