1851: Rubinstein: Symphony No. 2 (Ocean), age 22

Mr. Peabody Says:

Anton Rubinstein wrote six symphonies. I did not know any of them. I was looking at music written in 1851, stumbled on this symphony and liked it way better than I had anticipated. There are two versions, because he later added three more movements. I prefer the earlier version.

Igor Golovchin

  1. Allegro maestoso
  2. Adagio non tanto
  3. Allegro
  4. Adagio – Allegro con fuoco

Stephen Gunzenhauser

  1. Moderato assai 00:00
  2. Lento assai 11:45
  3. Andante 30:12
  4. Allegro 39:05
  5. Andante 44:06
  6. Scherzo 53:14
  7. Andante 59:18


  • piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet in Bb, bassoon
  • trumpet in C, 4 horns, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba
  • timpani
  • strings

Two versions:

Rubinstein’s 2nd symphony, the “Ocean”, was written in 1851, and it did not yet have a nickname. The composer revised the work in 1863, adding two movements and generally enlarging the whole, then added yet another movement in 1880, pushing his symphony to a length of over 72 minutes. The result controversial work. There is some doubt about whether the composer planned to have it performed with all seven movements.

Most known as a famous pianist:

He became most famous for his series of historical recitals—seven enormous, consecutive concerts covering the history of piano music. Rubinstein played this series throughout Russia and Eastern Europe and in the United States when he toured there.

Founder of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory:

He became a pivotal figure in Russian culture when he founded the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. He was the elder brother of Nikolai Rubinstein, who founded the Moscow Conservatory.

Also a composer:

Rubinstein was also a prolific composer throughout much of his life. He wrote 20 operas, the best known of which is The Demon. He composed many other works, including five piano concertos, six symphonies and many solo piano works along with a substantial output of works for chamber ensemble.

What Tchaikovsky said:

“…a work written by a young, ebullient, but quite mature talent, and distinguished, beyond its broad scope and youthful freshness, by a remarkably unified conception.”

Links to Mendelssohn and Schumann:

Rubinstein’s European training and exposure is obvious, but the Russian feeling is also obvious.

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