Symphony VII (Hovhaness)

From Wind Repertory Project
Alan Hovhaness

Alan Hovhaness

Subtitle: Nanga Parvat

This work bears the designation Opus 178.

General Info

Year: 1959
Duration: c. 14:05
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: C.F. Peters
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. Con Ferocita – 5:45
2. March in Isorhythmic Form – 3:40
3. Sunset – 4:45


Full Score
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Harp (or piano)
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • Glockenspiel
  • Side Drum
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tenor Drum
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Alan Hovhaness’ Symphony No. 7 (Nanga Parvat) was commissioned by the Edgar J. Kaufmann Charitable Foundation and was written while he was in Kashmir on a Fulbright Grant. The symphony represents his observation of the scene, a view of contemporary life and nature, taken from some of the wildest scenery in the world. Hovhaness writes about the fierce mountains, the cacophony of a bad village band, and an incredibly beautiful sunset.

Nanga Parvat is a Kashmir mountain of 26,000 feet – serene, majestic, aloof, terrible in storm, forever frozen in treeless snow. The name means “without trees,” and is one of the most dangerous and difficult mountains to climb.

- Program Note from Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music

Symphony No. 7 ‘Nanga Parvat’ was commissioned by the American Wind Symphony of Pittsburgh PA and composed 16th to 28th November, 1959.

1. Con Ferocità. Representing the tiger-like ferocity of the Himalayan Mountains. Texture of multiple strands of rhythms meeting and passing.
2. March. The sounds suggest wild improvised village marches in raucous woodwinds and false brass unisons. These savage sounds are organized into severe forms including two polymodal isorhythmic canons in woodwinds. Percussion plays forward and retrograde rhythm; timpani plays contracting and expanding rhythm. The march is an isorhythmic structure.
3. Sunset. Noble and heroic processional with clashing bells in superimposed meters. Tone clusters in high woodwinds are like shafts of light through craggy peaks.

- Program Note from Trinity College of Music Wind Orchestra CD Alan Hovhaness liner notes

Hovhaness was keen to write music for the emerging wind music movement in America during the 1950s and 60s. Symphony No.7 was one of four works commissioned by the American Wind Symphony Orchestra of Pittsburgh, the others being Symphonies Nos. 4, 14 and the Trumpet Concerto.

Composed in under a fortnight in November 1959, this symphony is a musical portrait of the inhospitable Kashmiri mountain Nanga Parvat, whose name means "without trees". The sonorities and material Hovhaness invents are not typical of those one would associate with Wind Symphony writing, which may explain the four commissions mentioned above. The three movements reflect the composer's description of the mountain as "Serene, majestic, aloof, terrible in storm, forever frozen in treeless snow", resulting in some of the composer's most violent music.

- Program Note from Chronology of the 'Early' Symphonies

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Reed Chamberlin, conductor) – 1 April 2016

Works for Winds by This Composer