Favorite symphonies by American composers, numbered 1 to 9—and beyond

Posted on: February 10, 2015

“A game involving lists of nine ‘desert island’ symphonies has been making the rounds,” writes Frank Oteri on Wednesday (2/4) at NewMusicBox. “The challenge is to come up with a list of nine symphonies by nine different composers that are titled with the numbers one to nine.… Since we’re New Music USA after all, I thought I’d further up the ante with a list devoted exclusively to works by American composers. But since I’m also FJO, I couldn’t limit myself to one per number and even broke a few of the rules.” Among the works Oteri cites are Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s first symphony and John Duffy’s Symphony No. 1 (“Utah”), Philip Glass’s second symphony “which has some amazing polytonal harmonies,” John Corigliano’s Circus Maximus for wind band “which he has titled his Symphony No 3,” Charles Ives’s Fourth Symphony (“The Grateful Dead used to spin the original Stokowski LP recording of that prior to going on stage for inspiration”), Roger Sessions’s  Symphony No. 8 (“a powerful work created during the height of the Vietnam War”), William Schuman’s Symphony No. 9 (“Le fosse Ardeatine”), and Alan Hovhaness’s Symphony Nos. 17 (“for metal instruments”) and 50 (“Mount Saint Helens”).

Posted February 10, 2015