Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Nationalist Era > Symphony No. 1 in E Minor - Sibelius
Symphony No. 1 in E Minor
1. Allegro energico.
2. Andante ma non troppo lento.
4. Finale quasi una fantasia.
Sibelius' First Symphony was composed in 1899 and was first brought to performance about three years later. The first movement opens with a passage for clarinet, accompanied by a roll on the drums and leading to the first theme in the first violins with accompaniment in the other strings. The development leads up through a crescendo to a climax which dies away in the violins and violas, and is followed, after developments of the first theme in the flutes, by the second theme in the woodwinds, which gradually reaches a climax. A free fantasie in the first theme, with references to the second, leads up to the recapitulation. A crescendo leads to another climax, again diminishing, and a third climax closes the movement.
The second movement opens with a theme in the first violins and cellos, followed by a contrasting melody in the bassoons, accompanied by the woodwinds. After development the horns give out another subject with harp arpeggios. The first theme reappears and reaches a climax and the movement ends.
The third movement is in the regular Scherzo form. The last movement opens with a subject based upon the clarinet melody in the first movement, followed by the first theme in the woodwinds over a roll of the drums. This material is developed and leads to a fortissimo climax, after which the second theme is stated by the violins. After restatement of the first and second themes, another climax ensues and after its subsidence, the solo clarinet takes up the second theme, which is worked up to another climax, bringing the work to its close.