10 Best: Symphony movements, no. 8


Symphony in C, mvt. 2 by Georges Bizet

Like Richard Strauss, Georges Bizet isn’t regarded as much of a symphonist. In fact, Bizet isn’t regarded as much of an orchestral composer in general. His most popular “orchestral” works are the suites he culled from his most famous opera and his most famous incidental music, and his two major “mature” orchestral works, the Roma Symphony and the Patrie Overture are both pretty meh.

All the more ironic, then, that his most popular orchestral work is the one he a) never heard in his lifetime and b) didn’t give a shit about – dude wrote like a trillion letters and never mentioned the piece once. It didn’t receive its premiere until 1935 when Bizet biographer Douglas Parker ran it by Felix Weingartner. Why this is the case is anybody’s guess: is it because Bizet thought it was too derivative of his teacher Gounod’s Symphony in D? Is it because he figured he could grab some stuff from it and drop it in other works like he did with “De mon amie” from The Pearl Fishers? Is it because he just thought it sucked? It doesn’t really matter at this point. Continue reading