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Jay Greenberg

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Symphony No. 5 (2005),
G. Schirmer/Lost Penny Publications
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
34 Minutes
Programme Note
Jay Greenberg Symphony No. 5 (2005),

Composer note:
Symphony No. 5 is a large-scale work combining a typically Romantic melodic sweep with Classical counterpoint and the methodical thinking of the 20th century's serialists. The first movement draws on a wealth of melodic material, including six distinct themes, to weave a sonata-form tapestry that sets the tone for the entire work. The second movement is a scherzo with what I like to think of as faintly bluesy overtones. The third movement, marked quasi fantasia, combines cinematic line with mathematical form, and leads directly into the finale, whose driving perpetual motion finally culminates in what could be justifiably taken as the climax of the entire work.

The Symphony pays (sometimes direct) tribute to the works that share its numerical designation, including the fifth symphonies of Beethoven, Nielsen, and Prokofiev; there are also references to Brahms and Vaughan Williams in its primary motives, but all of its material is in fact original. It was written mainly in the fall of 2004, and orchestrated the following year; first to be composed was its final movement, followed by the first three, with the second movement's trio completed last.

— Jay Greenberg

I. Allegro molto (ca. 10')
II. Scherzo (ca. 6')
III. Largo, quasi fantasia (ca. 11')
IV. Finale (Ca. 6'30")

  • Ensemble
    London Symphony Orchestra
    José Serebrier
  • 02 AUG 2012
    Boulder, CO
    Colorado Music Festival
    Michael Christie, conductor

    Other Dates:
    3 August - Boulder, CO
  • 02 AUG 2012
    Boulder, CO
    Colorado Music Festival
    Michael Christie, conductor

    Other Dates:
    3 August - Boulder, CO
  • 02 AUG 2012
    Boulder, CO
    Colorado Music Festival
    Michael Christie, conductor

    Other Dates:
    3 August - Boulder, CO
  • 01 DEC 2010
    Baltimore, MD
    Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    Joseph Lande, conductor
  • 25 OCT 2009
    Indianapolis, IN
    Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
  • 21 MAR 2009
    hosted by the New Haven Symphony
    New Haven, CT
    Connecticut Youth Orchestra Festival
    William Boughton, conductor
  • 18 MAR 2009
    Minneapolis, MN
    Minnesota Orchestra
    Sarah Hicks, conductor

    Other Dates:
    19 March - Minneapolis, MN
  • 04 MAY 2008
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Chapel Hill Philharmonia
    Donald Oehler, conductor
  • 25 APR 2008
    Allentown, PA
    Allentown Symphony Orchestra
    Diane Wittry, conductor

    Other Dates:
    27,28 April - Allentown, PA
  • 30 MAR 2008
    Golden, CO
    Jefferson Symphony
    Bill Morse, conductor
  • Colorado Music Festival
    Michael Christie, conductor

Sarah Hicks led the Minnesota Orchestra at Minneapolis' Orchestra Hall. What the appreciative audience heard was the work of a young man clearly cognizant of his influences, yet establishing his own voice. The Fifth Symphony would be impressive even if one didn't know that Greenberg wrote it at 13. It bears a mood of menace that hints at a troubled heart within this wunderkind, but also displays an admirable understanding of orchestration and tonal color. During an onstage interview, Greenberg said he was studying Bartók, Stravinsky and Alban Berg at the Juilliard School while composing the piece. And a taste of each of those composers emerged when the symphony was performed. The central conflict of the work seems to be the same kind of battle between darkness and light that's informed the music of the masters. A dancing melody in the first movement is never far from a troubling undertow. And the martial rhythms of the second movement are disrupted by a sense of anxiety that courses through the orchestra. The third movement was the most intriguing section of the symphony, in which a peaceful mood faded to a whisper amid an air of uncertainty. In the finale, the orchestra suffused a chorale with a triumphal tone before concluding with an ambiguous shout. It left the impression that Greenberg is an emotionally complex artist who should only grow more compelling with age and experience.
Rob Hubbard, St. Paul Pioneer Press,19/03/2009
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