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date: 29 January 2020

Symphony (Fr. simphonie, symphonie; Ger. Sinfonie, Symphonie; It. sinfonia)locked

  • Jan Larue,
  • Eugene K. Wolf,
  • Mark Evan Bonds,
  • Stephen Walsh
  •  and Charles Wilson


(Fr. simphonie, symphonie; Ger. Sinfonie, Symphonie; It. sinfonia)

A term now normally taken to signify an extended work for orchestra. The symphony became the chief vehicle of orchestral music in the late 18th century, and from the time of Beethoven came to be regarded as its highest and most exalted form. The adjective ‘symphonic’ applied to a work implies that it is extended and thoroughly developed.

The word ‘symphony’ derives from the Greek syn (‘together’) and phōnē (‘sounding’), through the Latin Symphonia, a term used during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It is essentially in this derivation that the term was used by Giovanni Gabrieli (Sacrae symphoniae, 1597), Heinrich Schütz (Symphoniae sacrae, 1629) and others for concerted motets, usually for voices and instruments. In the 17th century the term ‘symphony’ or (more commonly) ‘sinfonia’ was applied to introductory movements to operas, oratorios and cantatas (see Overture), to the instrumental introductions and ritornellos of arias and ensembles (...

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