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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Nationalist Era > Symphony No. 1 in E Flat Major (Borodin)


Symphony No. 1 in E Flat Major

Alexander Porfirevich Borodin
(1833-87)



1. Allegro.
2. Scherzo. Prestissimo.
3. Andante.
4. Allegro molto vivo.

The first symphony by Borodin was finished in 1867 and first performed in Petrograd in 1869. The introduction to the first movement suggests the opening theme, which does not make its appearance however until several measures later, when it is given out by the second violins. It is next taken up by the woodwinds, with string accompaniment. Lighter passages follow, leading to the second theme, stated by the woodwinds. After development, a rhythm for the kettle-drums, which appeared in the introduction, recurs and is finally heard in the clarinet. The recapitulation contains the principal theme, followed by the second subject, partial development of the first theme and the drum figure. A fortissimo passage, followed by a slow section, brings the movement to its close.

The Scherzo is laid out in three parts. The first begins with a staccato in the strings, then taken up by the woodwinds. The second is the trio in which all the previous material is developed, leading into the third part, which repeats the first.

The third movement begins with a melody for the 'cellos, followed by the flute and English horn with accompaniment of muted violins. A new section appears with a passage for the 'cellos, the English horn following with a suggestion of the first theme to viola accompaniment, closing with a repetition of two notes on the kettle-drums, the violins playing a figure which was heard in the opening. The first melody then returns fortissimo in full orchestra and a Coda closes the movement.

The last movement opens with a vigorous subject for the strings, leading by a short passage to the second theme. The second subject appears in the strings and is taken by the woodwinds. Development follows and recapitulation of all this material brings the movement to a close, fortissimo.





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