There’s Something About a Fifth Symphony

There’s something about a composer’s fifth. Beethoven, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Bruckner, Mahler, Sibelius. All of their fifth symphonies have become somewhat defining in their legacy as composers and are the pieces we’re told to approach first if not yet familiar with their music. They remain some of the most performed symphonies in the repertoire, and they all boast daunting, large-scale forms. Continue reading “There’s Something About a Fifth Symphony”

The Horn Trill in Dvorak’s 8th Symphony

Following in the steps of my last post, here’s another nifty little eight bar passage—this one from the finale of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 in G, featuring the principal and second horns.  The movement opens with a modest trumpet fanfare introducing a series of pastoral variations in the strings, but then it’s off to the races at rehearsal letter C when Dvorak calls upon the entire ensemble to repeat the main theme. Continue reading “The Horn Trill in Dvorak’s 8th Symphony”

The Horn as Orchestral Descant

The term descant hearkens back to my youth as a choir boy, when my musical experiences were dominated by music of the church.  We sang a number of hymns and psalms, and our director would often select a small group of us to sing a descant — known to me then only as an aria-like soprano part above the rest of the choir. Continue reading “The Horn as Orchestral Descant”