The symphony in the 21st century – why stick to traditional forms?

If you’ve found some newer compositions difficult to follow and remember it is possible that they were written with a looser structural style than traditional works. The ‘form’ of a symphony or a sonata follows a pattern of themes and modulations which make them easier  to remember and to recall beyond a first hearing. This is not to say that all new compositions should fit into a template – but a structure does help to make a piece memorable when copyright and performance costs swell the bottom line of being able to hear music repeatedly in a live performance.

Contemporary composer Tim Brady asks if the ‘symphony’ has value in the 21st century, pointing out that ‘The symphonic structure allows composers to deal with issues of time and memory.’

Read his feature in Gramophone magazine.

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