Work: Symphony no 1, "Nordic"
About This Work
Hanson was always considered a "Romantic" composer, looking back at and retaining many popular elements of Romantic era music even when that style was considered ouy-dated. This writer considers the Second Symphony, composed in 1930, to be
the first of his major works in which that description applies; Hanson even named it the "Romantic" as though to signal his retention of elements of Romantic style in 20th-century music. This symphony, though, was composed in 1920, before many elements of 20th-Century style had permeated into American concert halls. So it is not "neo-romantic" or "looking back at" Romantic; rather it is a genuine and un-self-conscious work of the Romantic Era, similar to music being written at the same time by such composers as Alfven, Madetoja, Magnard, and Bax. The subtitle is a proud one, for Hanson was, as his name indicated, of Nordic descent and his subject was his forebears, particularly in their role as pioneers in the Northern tier of states. While the relative immaturity of the composer shows here in the relative looseness of the symphony's organization, this is a work with grand, sweeping ideas which is good listening.
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