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Symphony III (Nielsen)

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Carl Nielsen

Carl Nielsen (trans. Phil Snedecor)

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Subtitle: Sinfonia espansiva

General Info

Year: 1911 /
Duration: c. 35:50
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: PAS Music
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. Allegro espansiva – 11:10
2. Andante pastorale – 9:00
3. Allegretto un poco – 6:05
4. Finale: Allegro – 9:34


  • B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
  • Horn in F I-II-III-IV
  • Trombone I-II-III-IV
  • Organ
  • Timpani
  • Percussion I-II-III

(Percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The subtitle of Nielsen's Third Symphony, Sinfonia Espansiva (Op. 27, 1910–11), is understood by the English composer Robert Simpson to refer to the "outward growth of the mind's scope". It fully exploits Nielsen's technique of confronting two keys at the same time and includes a peaceful section with soprano and baritone voices, singing a tune without words.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Nielsen completed his Third Symphony, the Sinfonia Espansiva, in 1911 and conducted the Royal Danish Orchestra in the first performance, given in Copenhagen on 28th February 1912, in the same programme as his Violin Concerto. It was an immediate success and two months later he conducted the work in Amsterdam with the Concertgebouw orchestra and subsequently in Sweden, Finland and Germany. The title Sinfonia Espansiva, an afterthought, has been explained by Robert Simpson as suggesting an expansion of the scope of the mind and of the life that comes with it.

The first movement, starting with a repeated and emphatic A, turns, eventually, into a great symphonic waltz. The traditional symphonic form still includes a principal theme, the basis of the later waltz. The energetic opening material is followed by a gentler theme from the woodwind, a mood pursued by the strings with further strongly expressed ideas, leading to a secondary theme from the flute, accompanied by two clarinets, material that is all developed before the great waltz, led by horns, trumpets and trombones. The slow movement, a gentle idyll, with its vocalises for solo soprano and baritone, is pastoral in mood. Here there are three themes, the first two improvisatory in character and the third a lyrical melody for the strings, with the voices blending like instruments with the orchestra at the climax of the movement. The third movement, without the immediate impetuous caprice of a scherzo, nevertheless provides a contrast, returning to the real world from the idyllic countryside of the Andante pastorale and exploring a new tonality, that of C sharp minor, in moving thematic material and moments of contrapuntal development. Nielsen described the last movement as a hymn to work and the healthy enjoyment of everyday life. The rondo breathes a mood of optimism, dominated by its principal theme, which returns in conclusion, after episodes often overtly simple in their thematic material.

- Program Note for orchestral version by Keith Anderson from liner notes of Naxos CD Carl Nielsen

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • New England Conservatory (Boston) Symphonic Winds (William Drury, conductor) - 12 April 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer