Symphony No. 2

Cello Symphony

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

Performing Ensemble: Orchestra
Duration: 24:00
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

A modern symphony orchestra can be expected to have an entire section of solo-quality cellists (violinists of that caliber might well be having solo careers), and my aim was to write a piece that would exploit the artistry and virtuosity of these players while exploring the "soul" of the instrument. To me, the cello is the quintessential singer among string instruments, encompassing, as it does, the entire human vocal range form the lowest bass voice to the highest soprano. Another aspect of the cello that fascinates me is the enormous range of expression, so I wanted to explore a wide gamut of techniques and dramatic moods. Additionally I find the sound of multiple cellos thrilling.

For these reasons, I decided that I would combine concepts of symphonic development with a concerto attitude. The work bears the subtitle Cello Symphony because it is a symphony in which the cello section is the protagonist. In fact, the piece is virtually a concerto for the cello section, calling for highly virtuosic playing and exploring the full range and scope of the instrument. The first movement even has a cadenza for the cello section!

Scores & Parts

Symphony No. 2 - Full Score - Study

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Composition Date 1985
Orchestration 3 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str.
Premiere November 13, 1985. San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Edo de Waart.


I. Allegro
II. Lento
III. Presto

Score Preview