Joseph Dente (1838−1905)

Symphony in D minor, composed for large orchestra

1. Andante — Allegro, ma non troppo
2. Scherzo: Molto vivace e con brio
3. Andante
4. Allegro vivace

  • Year of composition: 1887
  • Work category: Symphony
  • Dedication: To Albert Rubenson
  • Duration: 30 min

Instrumentation / / timp / str

Examples of printed editions

Musikaliska Konstföreningen 1890

Description of work

1. Andante D minor 3/4
2. Scherzo: Molto vivace e con brio F major 3/4
3. Andante B-flat major 4/4 (C)
4. Allegro vivace D minor alla breve

Work comment

Symphony in D minor is Dente's only symphony. It is conventionally structured in four movements: an Allegro with a slow introduction, followed by a Scherzo, a slow movement and a finale at a brisk pace. The key scheme is d/D-F-Bb-d. The orchestral forces are moderate, with trombones only in the final movement, without tuba and percussion. Dente's extensive experience as an orchestral musician and conductor is demonstrated in his handling of the orchestration, where different instrumental groups are often placed in opposition to each other, and it can be noted that the first three movements commence with only brass sounds (in the first movement these are accompanied by timpani). The opening Andante begins suggestively pianissimo; from a pedal point in horns and trumpets with timpani tremolo on the dominant A, a rising figure detaches itself in the bassoons. In the ensuing Allegro, the strings present a rising, danceable main theme, developed from the introductory figure, with the secondary theme, in F major, being related to the main theme. The development section introduces variations of these two themes (including the main theme in augmentation) and, as a contrast to the movement's rising central motif, a descending scale in imitation. A reminiscence of the introduction forms the transition to the recapitulation. The secondary theme's entry precipitates a key change to D major, and the movement's glorious conclusion involves a return of the main theme, this time in a major-key variation. The Scherzo is built on a few simple, but effectively utilised rhythmic and melodic ideas: syncopation, with accents on the triple metre's second beat, rising triads, leaps in fifths and octaves, and rapid descending pentatonic scales. Despite a certain level of motivic contrast, this movement has a unified character, and no truly contrasting 'trio section' can be said to exist. The Andante is characterised by a dynamic switching between a relaxed, cantabile main theme, in smooth progressive motion, and more dramatic sections with dynamic intensifications and varied rhythms. A discreet, but insistently repeated, horn call plays an important role. This movement commences with a short, chromatic foreplay in horns and bassoons, which reoccurs in the equally brief epilogue. The Finale, in a kind of sonata form, begins with a powerful and energetic motif in rapid downward figurations. This motif recurs often, and plays an important role as a link between the movements' various formal elements. Additionally, two other important themes (the main and secondary themes in sonata form terminology) are both melodious and have (at least initially) a soft dynamic, and similar instrumentation. There is almost no contrast between these two themes but this exists, on the other hand, in the correspondence between these two and the 'figuration motif'. © Sverker Jullander, Levande musikarv Transl. Robin McGinley

Media files

Edition Swedish Musical Heritage