Spring Symphony

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This article is about the composition by Benjamin Britten. "Spring Symphony" is also the nickname of Schumann's Symphony No. 1

The Spring Symphony is Benjamin Britten's Opus 44. It is dedicated to Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was premiered in Amsterdam during the July 1949 Holland Festival, when the composer was 35, and is one of his most promising works. The Spring Symphony is a choral symphony, written for soprano, alto and tenor solo, mixed chorus, boys' choir (often performed by a children's choir instead) and orchestra. Britten sets a varied number of poets' words, chiefly from the 16th and 17th century such as Edmund Spenser, John Clare and George Peele. A notable exception is 'Out on the lawn I lie in bed' by his friend W. H. Auden.

In the composer's own words, the work represents 'the progress of Winter to Spring and the reawakening of the earth and life which that means'.


The Spring Symphony is made up of four parts, which correspond to the movements of a conventional symphony: Allegro with slow introduction, slow movement, scherzo, and finale. Part I begins with the dark and mysterious Shine Out, a poem to the sun. Several more songs follow until The Driving Boy, which is a piece that features the boys' choir, at times whistling, and tambourine. The second part has several solos and quiet choruses and references to the month of May. The third part looks forward to May and then to summer....
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