Symphony No. 6 (Sessions)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Symphony No. 6 of Roger Sessions, a symphony written using the twelve-tone technique, was composed in 1966. It was commissioned by the state of New Jersey and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.[1] The score carries the dedication: "In celebration of the three hundredth anniversary of the state of New Jersey".[2]


Sessions began composing the symphony in the summer of 1965 while traveling in South America, and completed it at Tanglewood in 1966. It is the first of a trilogy of symphonies, composed in rapid succession, which Sessions associated with the Vietnam war.[3] The premiere[when?] was a disaster, with the finale still incomplete and the first movement played as a finale to make up for this;[citation needed] it was given its first complete performance and its New York premiere by the Juilliard Orchestra conducted by José Serebrier on 4 March 1977.[4] It was published by 1976.[5] The score bears the copyright year 1975.[2]


The symphony is scored for three flutes, three oboes, four clarinets, three bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, piano, harp, and strings.[6]


The symphony has three movements:[7]

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio e tranquillo[8]
  3. Allegro moderato

Andrea Olmstead describes all of Sessions's symphonies as "serious" and "funereal".[9]

Richard Swift describes the second movement as "lofty" and ascribes its "profundities to what are essentially simple processes that unwind with a sense of great spaciousness".[10]


  • Roger Sessions: Symphonies 6, 7 & 9. American Composers Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies, cond. Recorded May 1994, Manhattan Center, New York. CC recording, 1 disc: digital, stereo, 4¾ in. Argo 444 519-2. London: The Decca Record Company Limited, 1995.


  1. ^ Andrea Olmstead, Roger Sessions: A Biography (New York: Routledge, 2008): 358.
  2. ^ a b Roger Sessions, Symphony No. 6 (Bryn Mawr, PA: Merion Music, Inc., 1975): 1.
  3. ^ Andrea Olmstead, "Roger Sessions Symphonies 6, 7 & 9", booklet accompanying CD recording, Roger Sessions Symphonies 6, 7 & 9, 3–5. Argo 444 519-2 (London: The Decca Record Company Limited, 1995): 3.
  4. ^ "News Section". Tempo (New Series). London, England: Boosey & Hawkes (121): 49. June 1977. ISSN 0040-2982. OCLC 1767255. ; Andrea Olmstead, Roger Sessions: A Biography (New York: Routledge, 2008): 347, 357. ISBN 978-0-415-97713-5 (cloth); ISBN 978-0-415-97714-2 (pbk); ISBN 978-0-203-93147-9 (ebook). However, an anonymous item, "Concerts Mark Sessions' 70th", in Billboard (December 24, 1966): 41, states "Last month [i.e., November 1966], the first complete performance of his 'Symphony No. 6' was given by the New Jersey Symphony."
  5. ^ Richard Swift (December 1976). "Symphony no. 6 (1966) by Roger Sessions; Symphony no. 8, op. 106 by Vincent Persichetti". Notes (Second Series): Journal of the Music Library Association. Philadelphia, PA: Music Library Association. 33 (2): 406–407. ISSN 0027-4380. JSTOR 897603. OCLC 45595520. doi:10.2307/897603.  (subscription required)
  6. ^ Symphony No. 6: Roger Sessions: Rental (Bryn Mawr, PA: Theodore Presser Co.)
  7. ^ "Track listing for the Argo Recording of Symphonies 6, 7 and 9" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on February 10, 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2009. 
  8. ^ Opening is quoted as example 7 in Imbrie. Imbrie, Andrew (1972). "The Symphonies of Roger Sessions". Tempo (New Series). Boosey & Hawkes (103): 24–32. ISSN 0040-2982. JSTOR 943951. OCLC 1767255.  (subscription required)
  9. ^ Olmstead, Andrea (2012). Roger Sessions: A Biography, p.356. Routledge. ISBN 9781135868925.
  10. ^ Richard Swift, "Symphony no. 6 (1966) by Roger Sessions; Symphony no. 8, op. 106 by Vincent Persichetti", Notes (second series) 33, no. 2): 406–407. Citation on 407.

Further reading[edit]

  • Imbrie, Andrew (1972). "The Symphonies of Roger Sessions". Tempo (new series), no. 103 (December): 24–32.