Symphony No. 4 (Sessions)

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The Symphony No. 4 of Roger Sessions was composed in 1958.[1]

It has three movements:

  1. Burlesque
  2. Elegy[2]
  3. Pastorale[3]

It was commissioned by the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra for the Minnesota Centennial, and premiered by the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Antal Doráti [4] on January 2, 1960.[5]

The second movement's basically slow tempo is interrupted twice by faster episodes. This movement was intended as an elegy for the composer's brother, John, who died in 1948.[6] The finale, also slow, increases in intensity towards its close.[7] Andrea Olmstead describes all of Sessions's symphonies as "serious" and "funereal".[8]


  • Roger Sessions: Symphony No. 4, Symphony No. 5, Rhapsody for Orchestra. Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Christian Badea, cond. Recorded April 6, 1986, at the Ohio Theatre, Columbus Ohio. LP recording, 1 disc: digital, stero, 12 in. New World NW 345-1; CD recording, 1 disc: digital, stereo, 4¾ in. New World NW 345-2. New York: Recorded Anthology of American Music, 1987.


  1. ^ The last page of the score as published is signed with the date of completion.
  2. ^ Opening of Elegy is quoted as example 6 in Imbrie. Imbrie, Andrew (1972). "The Symphonies of Roger Sessions". Tempo (New Series). Cambridge University Press (103): 24–32. ISSN 0040-2982. JSTOR 943951. OCLC 1767255. 
  3. ^ Marks Music Corporation 1963 score.
  4. ^ Helm, Everett (May 1960). "Reports from Abroad". Musical Times. Musical Times Publications Ltd. 101 (1407): 316–7. ISSN 0027-4666. OCLC 53165808. 
  5. ^ "Roger Sessions: Compositions". Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
  6. ^ Prausnitz (2002), Roger Sessions: how a "difficult" composer got that way at Google Books; p. 281; Steinberg, Choral masterworks at Google Books, p. 253.
  7. ^ Badea's recording on New World; Marks Music score.
  8. ^ Olmstead, Andrea (2012). Roger Sessions: A Biography, p.356. Routledge. ISBN 9781135868925.

Further reading[edit]

  • Imbrie, Andrew (1972). "The Symphonies of Roger Sessions". Tempo (new series), no. 103 (December): 24–32.
  • Stern, Howard Gordon (2001). "Techniques of Formal Articulation and Association in the "Pastorale" of Roger Sessions' Symphony No. 4 and Cantata alla luna". PhD diss. Waltham: Brandeis University. ISBN 9780493142173.