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The Early Symphony

Catherine Bott reflects on the work of the pioneering symphonists of the 18th century such as Sammartini, the Stamitz family, Holzbauer, JC Bach, Monn and Wagenseil.

As part of Radio 3's month long celebration of Symphony, the Early Music Show traces the early history. Catherine Bott reflects on the trail-blazing work of the pioneering symphonists of the 18th century such as Sammartini, the Stamitz family, Holzbauer, JC Bach, Monn and Wagenseil.

The 18th century saw a creative explosion in the development of instrumental music and in particular, one of the great innovations of the century was the orchestral symphony. Many of its origins can be traced to Italy but it quickly became a pan European phenomenon with every major cultural centre boasting its own symphonist or "school" of symphony composers, each of which was bursting with its own creative reponses to this new and exciting kind of music.

As part of the BBC "Symphony" season, Catherine Bott reflects on some of the major pioneering figures in the development of the symphony, casting her net across many of Europe's major cities - from Milan to Mannheim, Hamburg and Dresden, Paris, Berlin, London and Vienna. The programme considers some of the novel innovations that were introduced into the symphony as the century progressed and by dwelling on some of the music of lesser known composers it provides a context for the musical world that we've come to associate with Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

Many of the symphonists featured in this programme can also be heard in complete performances across the following week on Radio 3's Afternoon on 3.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Gustav Mahler

    Symphony No.8, "Symphony of a Thousand" (excerpt from Part 2: final scene from Goethe's Fa

    Performers: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Vaclav Neumann (conductor)

    • SUPRAPHON.
    • 60C37-7307/8.
  • Ignaz Jakob Holzbauer

    1st movement (Allegro) from Symphony in D major, Op.3 No.4

    Performers: L’Orfeo Barockorchester, Michi Gaigg (director)

    • CPO.
    • 999 585-2.
  • Alessandro Scarlatti

    Sinfonia Avanti la Serenata 'Clorinda, Dorinda e Amore'

    Performers: Europa Galante, Fabio Biondi (director)

    • VIRGIN CLASSICS.
    • VC 5454952.
  • Giovanni Battista Sammartini

    Symphony in C minor, J-C:9

    Performers: Aradia Ensemble, Kevin Mallon (director)

    • NAXOS.
    • 8.557298.
  • Johann Stamitz

    1st movement from Symphony in D major, Op.3 No.2

    Performers: Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood (conductor)

    • L‘OISEAU-LYRE.
    • 475 9116.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    2nd movement (excerpt) from Symphony No.5 in D minor "Reformation Symphony"

    Performers: Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Kurt Masur (conductor)

    • EURODISC.
    • GD 69240.
  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

    1st movement (excerpt) from Symphony in B minor, Wq.182 No.5

    Performers: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Gustav Leonhardt (conductor)

    • VIRGIN CLASSICS.
    • VC 7 90806-2.
  • François Martin

    3rd movement (Allegro assai) from Symphony in A minor, Op.4 No.2

    Performers: Concerto Koln

    • CAPRICCIO.
    • 10280.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    1st movement (Allegro) from Symphony in E flat, Op.9/21 No.2

    Performers: Hanover Band, Anthony Halstead (director)

    • CPO.
    • 999 8962.
  • Georg Matthias Monn

    1st movement from Symphony in B major

    Performers: Camerata Bern, Thomas Furi (violin/director)

    • ARCHIV.
    • 410 599-2.
  • Georg Christoph Wagenseil

    2nd movement (Andante) from Symphony in B flat major, WV.441

    Performers: L’Orfeo Barockorchester, Michi Gaigg (director)

    • CPO.
    • 999 450-2.

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