symphonic poem

symphonic poem
a form of tone poem, scored for a symphony orchestra, in which a literary or pictorial "plot" is treated with considerable program detail: originated by Franz Liszt in the mid-19th century and developed esp. by Richard Strauss.
[1860-65]

* * *

Musical work for orchestra inspired by an extramusical story, idea, or "program," to which the title typically refers or alludes.

It evolved from the concert overture, an overture not attached to an opera or play yet suggestive of a literary or natural sequence of events. Franz Liszt, who coined the term, wrote 13 such works. Famous symphonic poems include Bedřich Smetana's The Moldau (1879), Claude Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (1894), Paul Dukas's The Sorceror's Apprentice (1897), Richard Strauss's Don Quixote (1897), and Jean Sibelius's Finlandia (1900).

* * *

music
also called  Tone Poem,  

      musical composition for orchestra inspired by an extra-musical idea, story, or “program,” to which the title typically refers or alludes. The characteristic single-movement symphonic poem evolved from the concert-overture, an overture not attached to an opera or play yet suggestive of a literary or natural sequence of events (e.g., Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave, also called Hebrides Overture).

      Both the term symphonic poem and the form itself were invented by Franz Liszt, who in works such as Les Préludes (1848; after Alphonse de Lamartine's Méditations poétiques) used thematic transformation to parallel the poetic emotions. The musical form is free, though somewhat akin to the sonata form used in the first movement of symphonies.

      Specific approaches differ among composers and according to subject matter. Thus, when Richard Strauss (Strauss, Richard) portrays erotic adventures in Don Juan (1889) or chivalric adventures in Don Quixote (1897), he freely modifies episodic forms, such as the rondo (which is marked by a recurring theme) or variation. Moreover, Strauss pursued a more literal, imitative rendering of temporal events (e.g., the last flutter of Don Juan's heart at death) as well as of incidental sounds (e.g., the bleating of sheep).

      Romantic literature and poetry from Dante to Byron and beyond furnished the bulk of program matter throughout the 19th century. Literature was the primary inspiration in Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini (1876); legend in Jean Sibelius' “Swan of Tuonela” (from Four Legends, 1893); and nationalism in Sibelius' Finlandia (1900) and Bedřich Smetana's Mé vlasti (My Country; 1874–79). Philosophical themes underlie Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra; 1896, after Nietzsche) and Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration; 1889). Paintings formed the inspiration for Sergey Rachmaninoff's Isle of the Dead (1907; after Arnold Böcklin) and Liszt's Hunnenschlacht (The Battle of the Huns; 1857, after Wilhelm von Kaulbach).

      The growing importance of visual inspiration is felt especially in late 19th-century France, albeit frequently by way of literature, as in Claude Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun; 1894). Eventually, the kinetic energies of the form erupted to the extent that the symphonic poem was largely superseded by the symphonic ballet. Thus, while Igor Stravinsky's early Feu d'artifice (Fireworks; 1908) was still ostensibly a symphonic poem, his subsequent scores based on Russian stories were intended for dance performance.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • symphonic poem — n. a musical composition for symphony orchestra, usually in one movement and based on a literary, historical, or other nonmusical subject …   English World dictionary

  • Symphonic poem — A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in one movement in which some extramusical program provides a narrative or illustrative element. This programme may come from a poem, a story or novel, a painting, or another source.… …   Wikipedia

  • symphonic poem — noun A piece of orchestral music, in one movement, based on something non musical, such as a story or a painting. Syn: tone poem …   Wiktionary

  • symphonic poem — noun another term for tone poem …   English new terms dictionary

  • symphonic poem — /sɪmˌfɒnɪk ˈpoʊəm/ (say sim.fonik pohuhm) noun a form of tone poem scored for a symphony orchestra, originated by Liszt in the mid 19th century and developed especially by Richard Strauss, in which a literary or pictorial plot is treated with… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • symphonic poem — noun an orchestral composition based on literature or folk tales • Syn: ↑tone poem • Hypernyms: ↑musical composition, ↑opus, ↑composition, ↑piece, ↑piece of music …   Useful english dictionary

  • symphonic poem — noun Date: 1873 an extended programmatic composition for symphony orchestra usually freer in form than a symphony …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • symphonic poem — symphon′ic po′em n. mad an extended programmatic composition for symphony orchestra • Etymology: 1860–65 …   From formal English to slang

  • Mazeppa (Symphonic Poem) — Mazeppa, S. 100, is a symphonic poem composed by Franz Liszt in 1851. It is the sixth in the cycle of thirteen symphonic poems written during his time in Weimar.[1] It tells the story of Ivan Mazepa, who seduced a noble Polish lady, and was tied… …   Wikipedia

  • Symphonic Techno — represents the integrated, non genre, and progressive Instrumental Electronic music that interfuses the different elements of electronic dance music such as Techno, Ambient, Drum’n’Bass, Progressive rock, Neo classical music using the classical… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”