Symphony Help!

August 7, 2016 at 01:27 AM · Hello! I am looking for symphonies to suggest to my orchestra teacher for our ISSMA State competition. We can play music that is about the level of Beethoven's 1st symphony and probably above, but not by too much.

Does anyone have any symphonies that could be playable? I was thinking about Beethoven's 6th or a Haydn symphony.

Replies (23)

August 7, 2016 at 02:44 AM · Beethoven 1, is a highly complex piece that although may not require high technical skills, it often is very hard to pull off smoothly. Try Schubert 8 (Unfinished), or perhaps the Mozart 40, however that may be quite a stretch.

Good luck!

August 7, 2016 at 06:12 AM · How much of the symphony will be played, a single movement, or the entire thing?

August 7, 2016 at 06:13 AM · When I was in high school, we did Howard Hanson's 2nd Symphony for a competition. Surprisingly doable, and a lovely work. (Parts of it really remind me of the score for ET, or I suppose I should say that ET's "Adventures on Earth" bit strongly resembles Hanson's symphony.)

August 7, 2016 at 11:33 AM · These past 4-1/2 years I've been playing in a conductorless chamber orchestra, we meet in mornings so most of us are beyond working age and have spent most of our lives playing, but still keeping 30 musicians together without a conductor has its challenges for certain music.

Most of our parts are downloaded from IMSLP.org . I suggest you check out that source; scan the scores to find symphonies at your level and then download and print the parts.

August 7, 2016 at 01:05 PM · Thanks for the hell so far. We will be playing only 1 or 2 movements.

August 7, 2016 at 01:18 PM · LOL, Freudian slip?

August 7, 2016 at 01:28 PM · Oops! I meant help.

August 8, 2016 at 11:09 AM · I second the suggestion of Schubert's unfinished symphony. It has only two movements anyway, and it is lovely. It has to be played light, fast, clean, so although it sounds easy it is definitely a challenge (also for the conductor!) Technically it is quite Mozart-like.

August 8, 2016 at 07:02 PM · The Schubert is definitely not doable by our orchestra. Most of our musicians cannot play I tune above 3-5th position.

August 9, 2016 at 05:53 PM · The Schubert Unfinished is much, much, much, much, much easier than any Beethoven symphony including the 1st and most especially including the 6th. Your difficulty meter is way off.

My junior high (middle school) youth orchestra played Schubert Unfinished and it is an excellent suggestion. Howard Hanson is another good suggestion. Stay away from Mozart symphonies! They are really hard and the 2nd violin parts tend to be harder than the 1sts.

Tchaik 5, maybe.

August 9, 2016 at 07:38 PM · I believe that the reason we played the Beethoven last year (Mvts. 1 and 4) was because it was not too technically difficult. it does not require shifting into high positions. We also played the waltz from Tchaiks serenade for strings, but that was deemed too difficult for us after the contest. The Schubert seems a bit easier after a closer look. I doubt the Tchaik 5th would be doable. One of the pieces we are playing for our fall concert is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcYTwkrB6AE

How about Haydn? 104 or 101? I'm playing 1st violin in my youth orchestra for 104 and have done 2nd violin for 101. Both seem doable at a slightly lower tempo for the 1st and last mvts of each.

August 10, 2016 at 03:59 AM · I'm probably wrong, but I was under the impression that Tchaikovsky's 5th is far more complex than Schubert or Beethoven. This might be purely opiniated though...

August 10, 2016 at 06:49 AM · Beethoven requires much more bow control than Schubert Unfinished. The OP seems to be basing his determination of difficulty entirely on shifting to high positions, but it's much easier to spoon feed shifting that is slightly beyond the students than it is to try to teach bow control, or rhythm, for that matter. I just played Beethoven 1 a few weeks ago; I shudder to think of it in the hands of typical high school students. Our local #2 youth orchestra (not the top group) recently did a respectable Schubert Unfinished.

Tchaikovsky 5 might be a stretch but it is easier than 4 or 6, both of which I remember playing in youth orchestra.

My high school orchestra once did a creditable Haydn Symphony; wish I could remember which one but that was 40 years ago. Some Haydn symphonies are more accessible than others. Other than a couple of cellists and me, the rest of the orchestra ranged from above average (but no better) to typical non-private lessons.

I remember playing the Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet in All-State.

August 10, 2016 at 10:30 AM · I know that my determining difficulty is not very good, but I am trying to judge the pieces based on what I think my teacher will do. I'll suggest the Schubert, but I highly doubt the Tchaik is possible.

We do have a few schools that are really good here in Indiana. One played the finale from Shostakovitch's 5th and Russlan and Ludmilla Overture.

August 10, 2016 at 02:25 PM · My teacher said we might do the Schubert. Thanks for the suggestion. He said he was considering it last year, but decided against it.

August 11, 2016 at 02:18 AM · Do you have a full orchestra or is it just strings?

Avoid Glinka. :)

August 11, 2016 at 02:23 AM · We have a string orchestra for most of the year, but for the ISSMA contest, we have auditions for people in band to play with us. No Glinka! I totally agree.

August 11, 2016 at 02:45 PM · As an amateur I played the Schubert in several different orchestras. It was a popular choice and very playable. The biggest hazard was invariably the conductor who would start each movement at a terminally slow tempo and gradually allow it to slow down even further! I also did Haydn 101 which again was quite playable, as is the C major symphony from the 'London' set (I forget the number) which I actually sight-read in the concert, for some reason (not recommended!). I remember Tchaikovsky 5 as being quite manageable too, although I was in the second violins.

For strings, admittedly not a symphony, Holst's St Paul's Suite is great fun, and not too difficult. It was written for a non-professional orchestra.

August 11, 2016 at 07:01 PM · Someone suggested that for a string piece we could do. It seems fun.

August 11, 2016 at 08:20 PM · My school orchestra did St. Paul's suite - it was a very fun piece to play, and it was (mostly) within everyone's playing ability. I highly recommend it for a student string orchestra.

August 11, 2016 at 08:35 PM · If you want to do a string piece, I would also suggest picking something from Hindemith's Schulwerk für Instrumental-Zusammenspiel. It is on IMSLP and the first two sets of short pieces are entirely in first position. My school orchestra put together the Fünf Stücke, the last set, in a little under two weeks. I enjoyed playing it.

August 11, 2016 at 08:54 PM · Other string pieces you could consider are the Mozart Divertimenti or Mendelssohn string symphonies.

August 11, 2016 at 10:20 PM · Vivaldi D Minor Concerto Grosso.

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