Symphonies of Wind Instruments

Symphonies of Wind Instruments

The "Symphonies of Wind Instruments" (French title: "Symphonies D'Instrument Vent") is a concert work written by Igor Stravinsky in 1920, for an ensemble of woodwind and brass instruments. The piece is in one movement, lasting about 9 minutes. It is dedicated to the memory of Claude Debussy, who died in 1918, and was premiered in London on 1921-06-10, conducted by Serge Koussevitzky.

Stravinsky shortened and re-orchestrated the work when he revised it in 1947 (Howe 2006).


The "Symphonies" was originally scored for a wind ensemble of 24 players: 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), alto flute, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, alto clarinet in F, 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, and tuba. The 1947 revision requires 23 players: 3 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, and tuba.


In the title of this piece, Stravinsky used the word "symphonies" (note the plural form) not to label the work as an essay in the symphonic form, but rather in the word's older, broader connotation, from the Greek, of "sounding together" (Randel 1986,Where ). The music of the "Symphonies" draws on Russian folk elements, and is constructed of "contrasting episodes at three different yet related tempos" (Harrison 1994).

The chorale which concludes the piece was originally published in the magazine "La Revue musicale" in an edition entitled "Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy", which included short pieces from several composers, including Maurice Ravel and Manuel de Falla, dedicated to Debussy's memory (Freed 2006). It appeared as a piano score in the "tombeau", although Stravinsky had conceived it as a piece for wind instruments and immediately set about writing the complete work.


*Harrison, Max (1994) "Symhonies, Psalms, Concertos – Orchestral Works by Stravinsky" (Liner notes for Philips CD 442 583-2)
*Howe, Hubert (2006). " [ Works of Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)] ", on class website, Music 784: Twentieth-Century Music I. New York: Queen’s College, CUNY (retrieved on 11 August 2008)
*Freed, Richard (2006). " [ About the Composition: Symphonies of Wind Instruments (original 1920 version)] (program note written for performances by the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC).
*Randel, Don (1986). "The New Harvard Dictionary of Music". Cambridge: Belknap Press (HUP). ISBN 0-674-61525-5. (p. 822 and 825)
*Stravinsky, Igor (1991). "Symphonies d’instruments à vent: Faksimileausgabe des Particells und der Partitur der Erstfassung (1920)", edited and with a commentary by André Baltensperger and Felix Meyer. Winterthur: Amadeus Verlag. ISBN 3-905049-46-5
*Taruskin, Richard (1993). "Review: Igor Stravinsky. "Symphonies d’instruments à vent: Faksimileausgabe des Particells und der Partitur der Erstfassung (1920)". "Notes", Second Series 49, No. 4 (June): 1617–21.

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