Symphony XXIII (Hovhaness)

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Alan Hovhaness

Alan Hovhaness

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Subtitle: Ani, City of a Thousand and One Cathedrals; For Large Band with Antiphonal Second Brass Choir

This work bears the designation Opus 249.

General Info

Year: 1972
Duration: c. 34:10
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: C.F. Peters
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - Rental   |   Score Only (print) - $24.00


1. Adagio legato espressivo – 10:0
2. Allegro grazioso – 7:00
3. Adagio con molta espressione 16:15


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In Ani, Hovhaness pays homage to the capital city of old Armenia, once known as the "city of one thousand and one churches". In its heyday, Ani was one of the most populated cities on Earth. Today it is a ghost city in ruins, lying just within modern Turkey's border.

This three-movement work is quite substantial, lasting some 38 minutes. It is scored for large band with antiphonal brass choir II ad lib, and was composed between 1st and 18th January 1972 for the Smithtown Central High School Symphonic Band and its conductor Lawrence Sobol, who commissioned the work.

The composer conducted this work for his Poseidon record label. His characteristic sleeve notes focus on time signatures and only general remarks:

The first movement, Adagio, begins and ends in seven meter. The music suggests the spirit of a mighty cathedral. One hears, however, bells, sounds like many birds, and roaring sounds of nature, followed by a fugue and a majestic close.

The second movement, Allegro Grazioso, is a humoresque, beginning and ending in seven meter. There are gamelan sounds (an orchestra of bells), the a trio, or middle section, in thirteen meter, followed by bird-like music.

The third movement, Adagio, is an elegiac song, gradually becoming powerful, defiant, and finally rejoicing in a victorious fugue. The Symphony ends with tumultuous bells.

At almost 40 minutes long, Ani is the second-longest symphony Hovhaness had composed up to that time. The first movement features a notable and arresting 'senza misura' passage featuring heavy brass "controlled chaos" but much of the music otherwise consists of solemn and extended hymn-like sections. Overall, however, because of the work's connotations with the ancient city of Ani the mood is reverential and restrained.

In 1989, as part of the millennial celebrations of the great cathedral of Ani, Hovhaness was invited to conduct the specially-assembled 'Ani Symphony Long Island Wind Orchestra' (Lawrence Sobol, musical director) in a performance of this work.

- Program Note from Alan Hovhaness website


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Denison University (Granville, Ohio) Wind Ensemble (Chris David Westover-Muñez, conductor) - 1 December 2022

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Alan Hovhaness website Accessed 27 November 2022
  • Hovhaness, A. (1972). Symphony no. 23 : Ani, city of a thousand and one cathedrals, for large band with antiphonal second brass choir ad lib. [score]. C.F. Peters: New York, N.Y.