Richard Wagner

Symphony in C major, WWV 29

    Description by Joseph Stevenson

    Both of Wagner's symphonies are early works; this is the first of them (The other, in E flat, was left unfinished.) The Symphony in C is the first of the pair; it was premiered in Leipzig in 1832, when the composer was 19 years old. It brought him his first fame as a composer, including a famous letter from Clara Wieck to her future husband, Robert Schumann, chiding him for not having yet written a symphony to match Wagner's.

    As Clara Wieck alertly noticed, the symphony is very much in the vein of Beethoven's Seventh. We find that it is imaginative, skilfully orchestrated, has an expected sense of grandeur, and, of course, lacks the harmonic innovations that makes Wagner's familiar mature style so unmistakable. It is not surprising that the symphony is so closely modeled on Beethoven; Wagner was virtually self-taught as a composer and a major part of the autodidactic musical training consisted of copying the full score of Beethoven symphonies.

    It is pretty much a transitional piece in the repertoire. Although it has a measure of interest, its main attraction is in showing where the future rebel came from.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Sostenuto e maestoso - Allegro con brio
    2. Andante ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
    3. Allegro assai - Un poco meno allegro - Tempo 1 - Meno allegro - Presto
    4. Allegro molto e vivace - Più allegro

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Naxos 8573413
    2014 Challenge Classics CC 72649
    2012 Chandos CHSA 5097
    2009 Denon Records
    2006 Finlandia
    2003 Coviello Classics COV 30102
    1999 Berlin Classics 0094082
    1997 Bluebell 0163
    1993 Denon Records 75259
    Bluebell 63