Neha Patil (Editor)

Symphony No. 1 (Ives)

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Charles Ives's Symphony No. 1 in D minor, written between 1898 and 1902, is an example of how Ives synthesized ideas from composers who came before him. Many of his later symphonies relied on Protestant hymns as the main theme. However, this symphony is composed in the late-Romantic European tradition, and is believed to contain many paraphrases from famous European pieces such as Tchaikovsky's Pathétique and Schubert's Unfinished symphonies and especially Dvořák's New World Symphony.

The piece is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani and strings. There is also an optional part for a third flute.

There are four movements:

  • Allegro
  • Adagio molto (Sostenuto)
  • Scherzo: Vivace
  • Allegro molto
  • A typical performance lasts around 40 minutes.

    The second movement is believed to be a tribute to Dvořák's famous Largo in the New World Symphony. Ives uses an cor anglais for a melody that is very similar to the cor anglais melody in the Dvořák, and changed the rhythm slightly to make the melody his own. This paraphrasing and quotation was typical of Ives as a composer. He often used familiar melodies (ranging from ragtime pieces, Protestant hymns, and Negro spirituals) to help the audience recognize how these tunes could be changed and developed in ways they had never heard.


    The Hyperion Records CD by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Litton also includes Symphony No. 4 and Central Park in the Dark. In general, since the work lasts about 50 minutes, leaving 30 minutes on a CD, it is usually paired with either No. 2 or No. 4. The Naxos Records CD of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Sinclair includes instead the "Emerson" Concerto.

  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Litton
  • RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Sinclair
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Morton Gould (premiere recording, RCA LSC-2893, 1966)
  • References

    Symphony No. 1 (Ives) Wikipedia

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