Skarach's world

Favourite English symphonies

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So, my last word on symphonies for a while – those by English* composers. It can be taken for read that the symphonies of Vaughan Williams and Elgar are right up there with the best. But I would make a case for the following which seem to have varying degress of (in)visibility:

  • William Walton – Symphony No.1. I like this a lot – a powerful and angry piece. It is easily my favourite work of his amongst those which I have heard.
  • Edmund Rubbra – Symphony No.6. This is one of those works which I liked straight from the first listen. A beautiful slow movement and much else besides. I cannot say that I know all his others yet, although No.5 is almost as good.
  • Robert Simpson – Symphony No.9. I suppose if you were going to single out one work of his it would be this one. To put it crudely, if you like Bruckner, you will admire this work. One of the most awe-inspiring starts to any symphony that I know.
  • Charles Villiers Stanford – Symphony No.5. * I suppose I should remember that he was born in Ireland. No.2 and No.6 are well worth listening to also.
  • Charles Hubert Parry – Symphony No.3. This somewhat reminds me of Brahms, which is always a good thing! Of those which I have heard No.4 is also worth a listen.

In some of these cases (Rubbra, Simpson) I have not heard their entire output yet – and some of their other works which I have I do not find to my liking. But their best, in my amateur judgement, are above. There are others – Bax, Moeran – who I should get to one day. So this post may be updated!


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