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Benjamin Britten

Publisher: Chester Music

Simple Symphony (1933), 4
Chester Music Ltd
Sub Category
String Orchestra
Year Composed
18 Minutes
Alternate Orchestration
string quartet

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Programme Note
Benjamin Britten Simple Symphony (1933), 4
Britten's note states that 'this "Simple Symphony" is entirely based on material which the composer wrote between the ages of nine and twelve. (The actual sources are given in footnotes to each movement.)'. In fact Britten's references are rather brief and imprecise; the sources (with their original opus numbers) are:

Boisterous Bourrée
(a) 'From Suite No. 1 (for piano) - 1926': Suite No. 1 in E, op. 24 no. 1 (18 October 1925), second movement (Bourrée: Allegro vivace)
(b) 'Song - 1923': A Country Dance ('Now the King is home again'), text from Tennyson's The Foresters, for voice and piano ([1923])

Playful Pizzicato
(a) 'Scherzo (piano) 1924': Sonata for Piano in B flat major, op. 5 ([probably summer 1925]), Scherzo and Trio (Molto vivace)
(b) 'Song - 1924': The Road Song of the "Bandar-Log" ('Here we go in a flung festoon', text by Rudyard Kipling), for voice and piano ([1923?])

Sentimental Saraband
(a) 'From Suite No. 3 (for piano) - 1925': Suite No. 3, in F# minor, for piano, op. 25 (October 1925), Prelude (Allegro di molto)
(b) 'Waltz for piano - 1923': [Waltz in B major for piano] (1923), (Tempo di valse)

Frolicsome Finale
(a) 'From Piano Sonata No. 9 - 1926': Piano Sonata No. 9, in C# minor, op. 38 (March 1926), Finale
(b) 'Song - 1925': not identified. The only dates in the composition draft are 'Jan 20th 1934' (no. 4) and 'Feb. 10th 1934' (no. 1); from Britten's diary it appears that work on the Symphony began with the scherzo (23 December-17 January).

Preview the score:

  • Ensemble
    Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
    Decca - Classic FM:
  • Ensemble
    European Camerata
    Laurent Quenelle
    Fuga Libera:
  • Ensemble
    Northern Sinfonia
    Steuart Bedford
  • 25 APR 2018
    Lentua Hall, Kuhmo, Finland
    Joensuu City Orchestra
    Michael Seal, conductor

    Other Dates:
    26 April - Carelia Hall, Joensuu, Finland
  • 21 APR 2018
    Newmark Theatre, Portland, OR
    Oregon Ballet Theatre

    Other Dates:
    22 April - Newmark Theatre, Portland, OR
  • 18 FEB 2018
    Concordia University Center for Worship and Performing Arts, Irvine, CA
    Concordia University Sinfonietta
    Dr. Tom Mueller; Dr. Matthew Hare, conductor
  • 28 JAN 2018
    Auditorio, Girona, Spain
    Orquesta Forma Antigva
    Aaron Zapino, conductor

    Other Dates:
    29 January - Palau de la Música Catalana de Barcelona, Spain
  • 21 DEC 2017
    Erfurt, Germany
    Philharmonisches Orchester Erfurt
    Joana Mallwitz, conductor

    Other Dates:
    22 December - Erfurt, Germany
  • 02 DEC 2017
    Sinclair Auditorium, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    Coe College Symphony Orchestra
    Michelle Perrin Blair, conductor
  • 14 NOV 2017
    Museo de Bellas Artes San Pio V, Valencia, Spain
    Orquesta de Valencia
    Anabel García del Castillo, conductor
  • 03 NOV 2017
    Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Seattle, WA
    Pacific Northwest Ballet
    Emil de Cou, conductor

    Other Dates:
    4,9-12 November - Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Seattle, WA
  • 25 OCT 2017
    Mannheim, Germany
    Deutsches HNO-Orchester
    Jan Höhler, conductor
  • 23 SEP 2017
    Hüntwangen, Switzerland
    Ad Hoc Orchester
    David Reitz, conductor
  • 13 SEP 2017
    Suffolk, UK
    Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra
  • 22 JUL 2017
    Schieder-Schwalenberg, Germany
    Detmolder Kammerorchester
    Alfredo Perl, conductor
  • 01 JUL 2017
    Sankt Blasien, Germany
    Schulorchester Kolleg St. Blasien
    Kla Weissenbach, conductor
  • 03 JUN 2017
    Poznan University, Poland
    Capella Bydgostiensis
    Jakub Chrenowicz, conductor
  • 20 MAY 2017
    Koblenz, Germany
    Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie
    Ning Kam, conductor
  • 20 APR 2017
    Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church, New York, NY
    Quodlibet Ensemble
  • 30 MAR 2017
    Budapest, Hungary
    MAV Symphony Orchestra

    Other Dates:
    31 March - Budapest, Hungary
  • 18 MAR 2017
    Dominicuskerk Nijmegen, Netherlands
    Nijmeegs Strings Guild
    Kent Moussault, conductor
  • 18 MAR 2017
    Dominicuskerk, Nijmegen, Netherlands
    Nijmegen Strings Guild
    Kent Moussault, conductor
  • 17 MAR 2017
    Filhamonia Slaska, Katowice, Poland
    Slaska Orkiestra Kameralna
    Robert Kabara, conductor
  • 26 FEB 2017
    Daiichi Seimei Hall, Tokyo, Japan
    Ensemble Franc
    Yuri Nitta, conductor
  • 18 FEB 2017
    Auditorio de Musikene de San Sebastian, Spain
    Musikene Master String Orkestra
    Gordan Nikolic, conductor
  • 12 FEB 2017
    Teatro Real, Madrid
    Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid
    Gordan Nikolic, conductor
  • 31 DEC 2016
    Düsseldorf, Germany
    altstadtherbst orchester
    Dominikus Burghardt, conductor
  • 10 DEC 2016
    Berlin, Germany
    cappella academica
    Christiane Silber, conductor
  • 20 NOV 2016
    Gersthofen, Germany
    Augsburger Philharmoniker
    Héja Domonkos, conductor
  • 19 NOV 2016
    Ein Sommernachtstraum - Choreography by Stephan Toss
    Mannheim, Germany
    Mannheim National Theatre Orchestra
    Kai Adomeit, Piano; Wolfgang Wengenroth, conductor

    Other Dates:
    26 December; 11 January 2017; 20 February 2017 - Mannheim, Germany
    15 April 2017; 3,21 June 2017; 25 July 2017; 24 November; 4,8 December - Mannheim, Germany
  • 13 NOV 2016
    Erlangen, Germany
    Orchester des Erlanger Musikinstituts
    Dorian Keilhack, conductor
  • 15 JUN 2016
    Pfullingen, Germany
    Orchester des Friedrich-Schiller-Gymnasiums
    Dorothee Hirschmann, conductor

    Other Dates:
    16 June - Pfullingen, Germany
  • 29 MAY 2016
    Augsburg, Germany
    Augsburger Philharmoniker
    Héja Domonkos, conductor

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