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Benjamin Britten

Publisher: Chester Music

Simple Symphony, Op. 4 (1933)
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, Op. 4 (1933)
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).

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    Ballet "Tryptichon"
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    Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie
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    Kolarac Hall, Belgrade, Serbia
    Belgrade Strings
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    Manhattan School of Music
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    Kolarac Hall, Belgrade, Serbia
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    Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop
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    Magdeburgische Philharmonie
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    Prague, Czech Republic
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    St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church Van Nuys, US
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    University of Nottingham Strings
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    Orquesta Nacional de España
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    Zsolt Hamar , conductor
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    Sala de Plenos del Ayuntamiento, San Sebastián.
    Joven Orquesta y Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid
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    Ingelheim, Germany
    Sinfonieorchester der Musikschule Ingelheim
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    Wuppertal, Germany
    Toshiyuki Kamioka
    Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal, conductor
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    Boswil, Switzerland
    Jugendorchester Freiamt
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    Feldberg, Germany
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    AOC Orchestra
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    Frankfurt, Germany
    Skyline Symphony - Frankfurter Kammerorchester
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