Friday, March 5, 2021

Mendelssohn & Mahler Symphonies no. 4

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from May 16, 2014. It can be found in our archives at


All of this week on our podcasting channel, we surveyed Mendelssohn’s mature symphonies and today’s montage features his “Italian” Symphony (his #4), in a pairing with another fourth symphony from a composer/conductor, Gustav Mahler.

As the original post does a good job at introducing both, I thought I would spend some time discussing my “search” for another fourth symphony as my usual filler. I wanted to find anither symphony by a composer whose last name starts with “M”, avoiding Mozart’s fourth which (as many of his very early symphonies) is both short and of doubtful origin…

If you survey “fourth symphonies” you’ll hit all the usual suspects – Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Beethoven, Vaughan-Williams and even symphonies by less travelled composers like Lutosławski and the work I retained by American composer David Maslanka.

In the last two decades of the Twentieth Century, the wind band music of David Maslanka has become well known and widely performed. The roots of his Symphony No. 4 are many. The central driving force is the spontaneous rise of the impulse to shout for the joy of life. The hymn tune Old Hundred, several other hymn tunes (the Bach chorales Only Trust in God to Guide You and Christ Who Makes Us Holy), and original melodies which are hymn-like in nature, form the backbone of Symphony No. 4.

The performance I retained is by the Eastman Wind Ensemble

I think you will (still) love this music too.

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