The symphonic poem

My focus now is to commit to the consideration of structure.  That is, how the whole piece will fit together, what will go where, and how long each bit will last.  Tricky at this stage when only 9 minutes is written.

However, having looked at the symphony I think now that the best structure or ‘form’ for my piece of music is the symphonic poem. This is a piece whereby a poem or programme provides a narrative or illustrative basis.

The term was applied by Liszt to 13 of his one-movement orchestral works which were on the scale of a symphony but weren’t actually symphonies owing to the fact that they dealt with descriptive subjects taken from mythology, literature, recent history, imaginative fantasy; they were programmatic.

Examples of symphonic poems:
Berlioz – ‘Fantastic Symphony’
Smetana – ‘Ma Vlast’, ‘Wallenstein’s Camp’
Glinka – ‘Kamarinskaya’
Tchaikovsky – ‘Romeo & Juliet’, ‘Hamlet’
Dukas – ‘L’apprenti-sorcier’
Tippett – ‘The Rose Lake’

Strauss preferred the term ‘Tondichtung’ – tone poem – and wrote examples of the form such as ‘Don Juan’ and ‘Don Quixote’.

In summary, the symphonic poem is a through-composed composition, which sounds ideal for my compositional plans.  But there is still more work to do and more thinking to get my head around.

References:
Kennedy, M & J (2007). Oxford Concise Dictionary of Music. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pg.738

Sadie, Stanley (1988). Grove Concise Dictionary of Music. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan Press. Pg.743

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