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First Movement from "Symphony No 2, 'Romantic' '' (arr Allen)

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Howard Hanson

Howard Hanson (arr. Fred J. Allen)

The entire symphony bears the nickname Romantic and bears the designation Opus 30, W45. The first movement is marked Andante con tenerezza.

General Info

Year: 1930 / 2018
Duration: c. 13:45
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Manuscript
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba I-II
  • Snare Drum
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Symphony No. 2 in D-flat major, Opus 30, W45, 'Romantic', was written by Howard Hanson on commission from Serge Koussevitsky for the 50th anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1930, and published by Carl Fischer Music. The symphony was premiered by Koussevitzky conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra on November 28, 1930. Soon after Arturo Toscanini played it with the New York Philharmonic.

Hanson considered himself a "perfect fifth composer" or a "major third composer," but in this symphony, it is the perfect fourth "that plays a prominent part throughout the symphony in both melody and harmony." Despite the abundance of triplets, the Bruckner rhythm occurs only in a few spots, mainly in the horns' and trumpets' parts; the others are in the timpani in the first movement, and at the end of a longer rhythmical motif in the finale.

The "lyrical, haunting second theme" of the first movement has become known as the "Interlochen theme" (as it is performed at the conclusion of all concerts at the Interlochen Center for the Arts). It reappears "with greater emphasis" in the following two movements. The slow movement was arranged for concert band by Norman Goldberg.

While Hanson is deemed to have broken new ground in the symphony, he "produced a popular concert work which is the epitome of the twentieth-century symphony that could have been written by an American," according to Neil Butterworth in The American Symphony. Virgil Thomson, a contemporary of Hanson, opined of Hanson's music in general that "I have never yet found in any work of his a single phrase or turn of harmony that did not sound familiar," and of the symphony specifically "it is as standardized in expression as it is eclectic in style. Not a surprise from beginning to end, nor any adventure."

Hanson was displeased that the theme was used for the closing credits of Alien without his permission, but decided not to fight it in court. More positively, John Williams used the symphony as a model for his music for E. T.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Three decades after his death, Howard Hanson remains one of America’s most persuasive compositional voices. Though conservative in his harmonic vocabulary -- a figurative “kiss of death” during the university-dominated 1960s in the United States -- his deeply felt music resonates with renewed appreciation in the 21st century.

A clue to the genesis and long-term success of Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 ‘Romantic’ may be found in this comment by the composer in 1930, the year of its composition:

“The Symphony for me represents my escape from the rather bitter type of modern musical realism [that] occupies so large a place in contemporary thought. Much contemporary music seems to me to be showing a tendency to become entirely too cerebral. I do not believe that music is primarily a matter of the intellect, but rather a manifestation of the emotions. I have, therefore, aimed in this Symphony to create a work that was young in spirit, lyrical and romantic in temperament, and simple and direct in expression.”

The ‘Romantic’ Symphony is Hanson’s best-known orchestral score, and it fulfills the expression implications of its title. His second symphonic work is laid out in three movements and also employs cyclic use of motives. After an atmospheric introduction intoned mainly by winds before being joined by horn and then strings, the opening Adagio-Allegro moderato starts in earnest with a much-repeated three-note figure that leads the orchestra to a fine climax. A horn fanfare clears the air for a descending and increasingly powerful thematic statement uttered by the brass, which in turn yields to a tender theme marked in the strings. An English horn solo leads into the development section in which themes are varied and along with beautifully gauged alternation of lyrical and forceful episodes joined unerringly as a seamless flowing narrative.

- Program Note by Steven Lowe for liner notes of American Classics CD Howard Hanson: Symphony No. 2 'Romantic.'

The Fred J. Allen arrangement of this symphony encompasses only the first movement.


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer