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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
  • 23 MAY 2019
    Venus Unwrapped 2019
    King's Place, London, UK
    Southbank Sinfonia
  • 11 FEB 2019
    Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid, Spain
    Victor Pablo Pérez, conductor
  • 09 DEC 2018
    Cenntenial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra
    Earl Lee, conductor
  • 01 DEC 2018
    Olathe South High School Auditorium, Olathe, KS
    ECKMEA Gold Orchestra
    Performing Movements One and Four Only; Dr. Timothy Shade, conductor
  • 01 DEC 2018
    Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest
    Gordan Nikolic, conductor

    Other Dates:
    3 December - Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 18 NOV 2018
    Beromünster, Switzerland
    Sinfonietta Lucerne
    Marius Brunner, conductor

    Other Dates:
    21 November - Schüpfheim, Switzerland
    24 November - Hochdorf, Switzerland
    25 November - Ettiswil, Switzerland
  • 17 NOV 2018
    Zürich, Switzerland
    Camerata Zurich
    Igor Karsko, conductor

    Other Dates:
    18 November - Zürich, Switzerland
  • 18 OCT 2018
    Berlin, Germany
    Metamorphosen Berlin
    Wolfgang Schmidt, conductor
  • 01 OCT 2018
    Saint Petersburg, Russia
  • 29 SEP 2018
    Kitzingen, Germany
    Kammerorchester Kitzingen
    Lutz Burkard, conductor

    Other Dates:
    30 September - Rödelsee, Germany
  • 28 SEP 2018
    Folly Theatre, Kansas City, KS
    ICM Orchestra of Park University
    Steven McDonald, conductor
  • 28 JUL 2018
    Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK
    RNCM Symphony Orchestra
  • 22 JUN 2018
    Nördlingen, Germany
    Orchester der Rieser Musikschule Nördlingen
    Annegret Keller, conductor

    Other Dates:
    24 June - Wemding, Germany
  • 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
  • 01 FEB 2018
    Hamburg, Germany
    Das Hamburger Bläserquintett
  • 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

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