Recommendations for June 2024

Symphony No. 5 - Gustav Mahler


A carefully considered performance of Mahler’s Fifth.


Symphony No. 3 (To the 25th Anniversary of the October revolution) - Boris Lyatoshinsky

CHAS 5233

A performance of great intensity, easily the best recording of the work, and it includes the original last movement.


Symphonies Nos. 2 & 6 - Rued Langgaard


Combines excellent performances of Langgaard’s appealing second symphony with his apocalyptic sixth symphony.


Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 - Louise Farrenc

999 603-2


Women Symphony Composers

To celebrate International Women's Day 2019 we're featuring a selection of women symphony composers.

In lists of favourite symphonies you're unlikely to find an entry by a female composer. For example, in a 2009 survey of the 100 most popular symphonies by the Australian ABC Classic FM radio station not a single symphony is by a female composer [1].

So to set the record straight here, in alphabetical order, is our selection of the ten best symphonies by female composers, with recommended recordings:

1. Elfrida Andrée (1841-1929): Symphony in A Minor

A Swedish organist, composer, and conductor.

Sjökvist (Sterling 1016)


Stockholm Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gustaf Sjökvist, 05/1995.

More information.

2. Amy Beach (1867-1944): Gaelic Symphony

America's first successful woman composer, and an accomplished pianist. After her marriage she complied with her husband's wishes to limit her piano performances to one charity recital a year. After her husband died she toured Europe as a pianist, playing her own compositions to great acclaim.

The Gaelic Symphony is one of her most famous works.

Schermerhorn (Naxos 8.559139)


Nashville Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Schermerhorn.

More information.

3. Gloria Coates (b1938): Symphony No. 15

A prolific American composer who now lives in Munich, Germany. To date she has written 15 symphonies, and her 15th symphony combines tonal and atonal forms, and string glissandos that are a characteristic of many of her works.

Boder (Naxos 8.559371)


Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Boder.

More information.

4. Louise Farrenc (1804-1875): Symphony No. 3

A French composer, pianist and teacher who was acclaimed in her lifetime. She composed three symphonies; the third symphony has been likened to Brahms.

Goritzki (CPO 999 603-2)

999 603-2

North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Johannes Goritzki.

Coupled with Symphony No. 1

More information.

5. Sofia Gubaidulina (b1931): Symphony in 12 Movements

A Russian composer. She wrote one symphony, the Symphony in 12 Movements.

Rozhdestvensky (Chandos 9183)


Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky.

6. Libby Larsen (b1950): Symphony No. 5 "Solo Symphony"

Libby Larsen is an American composer associated with the Minnesota Orchestra, where in 1983 she was appointed one of their two composers-in-residence. Her fifth symphony is more of a concerto for orchestra, giving soloists a chance to shine throughout the four movements.

Alsop (Koch International 7520)


Colorado Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop.

More information.

7. Alla Pavlova (b1952): Symphony No. 2 "For the New Millennium"

Alla Pavlova is a Russian composer, living in New York, USA.

Fedoseyev (Naxos 8.557566)


Moscow Radio Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev.

Coupled with Symphony No. 4

More information.

8. Dora Pejacevic (1885-1923): Symphony in F sharp minor

A Croatian composer. Her Symphony in F sharp minor has been acclaimed as an accomplished symphony, reminiscent of Bruckner.

Rasilainen (CPO 777 418-2)

777 418-2

Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, conducted by Ari Rasilainen, 2008.

More information.

9. Galina Ustvolskaya (1919-2006): Symphony No. 5

A Russian composer who was encouraged and supported by Shostakovich. She wrote five unconventional symphonies.

Liss (Megadisc Classics Megadisc)


St. Petersburg Soloists, conducted by Dmitri Liss.

Coupled with Symphonies Nos. 2 - 4

More information.

10. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (b1939): Symphony No. 1 "Three Movements for Orchestra"

An American composer who has written five symphonies. Symphony No. 1 was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music and is a recommended starting point for exploring her music.

Nelson (New World Records 80336)


Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Nelson, 1984.

New World Records 80336

More information.

  1. ^ Classic 100 Symphony (ABC) on Wikipedia.

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