Symphony No. 1

Samuel Adler

Duration: 00:27:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

My first symphony was the result of a prize and a commission after winning the Texas Composer?s Prize awarded by the University of Texas. The Dallas Symphony, in particular its Music Director Walter Hendel, asked me to write a work for the 1953-54 season. Written in the summer of 1953 in Dallas, the Symphony is in three movements. It is a work stemming from a very happy time in my life, a time of ?liberation,? for I had just been discharged from the United States Army. Even though the last nine months of my Army duty had been good and rewarding ones, my desire to get back into civilian life was very great. The First Symphony unquestionably shows the influences of three of my teachers, Aaron Copland, Walter Piston, and Paul Hindemith, in the melodies, the harmonies, as well as the form. The work?s three movements may be described in the following manner:
The first movement, marked ?Gently Moving,? is an old-fashioned first-movement sonata form with two easily decipherable themes, a development of each, and a recapitulation only slightly varied from the exposition. The first theme is a long lyrical tune introduced at the very beginning by violas, cellos, combined with horns. The second is a jaunty, bouncy theme introduced by the solo clarinet.

The second movement is an ABA form. A contrapuntal, strong string imitative section, gives way to a homophonic song-like middle portion and ends with the combination of the two.

The third movement is a scherzo-finale combining what is the third and fourth movement of a classical symphony. The spirit is that of an exhilarating scherzo while the form is a rondo with a recurring gesture which is heard at the beginning: a repeated-note figure followed by a scale harmonized in mirror fashion (top voices come down while the bottom voices go up). The longer tune relief sections have great similarities with themes from the first and second movements and, therefore, give the work greater unity. The movement ends very much as it began, except that it is a summation of all that has happened before, therefore, much fuller in orchestration and bringing the entire symphony to a close with great flourish.

Additional Information

Composition Date 1953, rev. 2008
Orchestration 3 3 2 3 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. Hp. Str.
Premiere First performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Walter Hendl conducting; December 1953.


I. Gently Moving
II. (Unnamed)
III. Vigorous and Very Rhythmic

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