Short Symphony

The Short Symphony, or Symphony No. 2, is a symphony written by the American composer Aaron Copland from 1931 to 1933. The name derives from its short length of only 15 minutes. The work is dedicated to Copland's friend, the Mexican composer and conductor Carlos Chávez. The symphony's first movement is in sonata-allegro form, and its slow second movement follows an adapted ternary form. The third movement resembles the sonata-allegro but has indications of cyclic form. The composition contains complex rhythms and polyharmonies, and it incorporates the composer's emerging interest in serialism as well as influences from Mexican music and German cinema. The symphony includes scoring for a heckelphone and a piano while omitting trombones and a percussion section. Copland later arranged the symphony as a sextet.

Short Symphony
(Symphony No. 2)
by Aaron Copland
Composed1931 (1931)–33
DedicationCarlos Chávez
Movements3
Premiere
DateNovember 23, 1934 (1934-11-23)
LocationMexico City
ConductorCarlos Chávez
PerformersSinfónica de México

The symphony was not widely performed during Copland's lifetime, largely due to the piece's challenging rhythmic variations. After Serge Koussevitzky and Leopold Stokowski both declined to conduct the premiere, Chávez agreed to deliver it in 1934 in Mexico City. The symphony eventually received its U.S. premiere in 1944, with subsequent concert performances in the 1950s. The piece's first recording was made in 1969 with Copland conducting. Though Copland thought of the Short Symphony as "one of the best things I ever wrote",[1] some critics found it to be fragmented and cacophonous. Others agreed with Copland's assessment, describing the symphony as a masterpiece and a significant work in both Copland's career and modernist music.


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