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Work of the Week – Julian Anderson: Symphony No. 2

Julian Anderson's Symphony No. 2, will celebrate its US premiere on December 7, 2023 at Severance Hall in Cleveland, OH. The Cleveland Orchestra will present the piece under the baton of Semyon Bychkov, who conducted the world premiere with the Munich Philharmonic at the beginning of last year. 

Anderson found inspiration for the symphony from the photographer Josef Sudek. He first saw his view of the city of Prague about 20 years ago in his book Prague Panoramic. Since then, he has been captivated by the vastness and scale of the astonishingly beautiful panoramic photographs. Every time he looks at them, the composer can almost hear their sound, he once reported. An important aspect of the photographs for him is the lack of a focal point and depth of field. The fact that everything is equally in focus, regardless of the size of the shot, gives the images a surreal quality. 

Symphony No. 2 by Julian Anderson: Prague Panoramas

The work had it's UK premiere at the BBC Proms 2022 with Bychkov and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The composer provides the short opening movement with sharp accents in order to create an organically changing gesture in terms of tempo and expression in the second. Anderson found a model for his sound and character in the symphonic poem A Summer's Tale by Josef Suk. We then encounter lightness in the third and final movement, repeatedly contrasted by Czech-inspired lively passages. In this way, the composer forms his own perception of the city of Prague and of Josef Sudek's paintings.

For my work, I have selected a number of the most striking images. I find them a hugely stimulating source of creative energy and intensity. If ever there was a musical book of photographs, this is it. (Julian Anderson)

Two days after the first performance, the work will be heard again in Cleveland.


Julian Anderson: Composer Profile    

Symphony No. 2: Work Details and Online Score  

Website The Cleveland Orchestra 

Photo Credit: Bednarek / Adobe


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