Symphony No. 1 (Bernstein)

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Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 1 Jeremiah was composed in 1942. Jeremiah is a programmatic work, following the Biblical story of the prophet Jeremiah. It uses texts from the Book of Lamentations in the Hebrew Bible. The work won the New York Music Critics' Circle Award for the best American work of 1944.[1]


The symphony is written for 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn, E-flat clarinet doubling bass clarinet, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, wood block, maracas, piano, mezzo-soprano, and strings.


The symphony is in three movements:

  1. Prophecy
  2. Profanation
  3. Lamentation


The work was premiered on January 28, 1944, at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh with the composer conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The soloist was Jennie Tourel. It was premiered in New York City on March 29, 1944, at Carnegie Hall, again with Tourel as soloist.[2]


  1. ^ “Music Critics Prize Won by Bernstein,” New York Times (16 May 1944): 19.
  2. ^ Leonard Bernstein, Jeremiah, Symphony No. 1 (New York and London: Boosey and Hawkes, 1992), ii.