1900: Gliere: Symphony No. 1 in Eb major Op. 8, age 25

Mr. Peabody Says:

He changed his name from “Glier” to “Glière”, apparently adding the accent just make typing complicated. When he completed his studies and graduated from the Moscow conservatory with the highest award, a gold medal, he was asked by his teacher Sergei Taneev in January 1902, to teach the 10-year old Sergei Prokofiev.

This is a good place to start:

2nd mvt. – Molto vivace (12:34)

It’s in 5/4 time, the same as what Tchaikovksy did in the 2nd movement of his 6th symphony. This is way more unusual than people realize. Tchaikovksy wrote his last symphony in 1893, so we know for sure Gliere knew it well.

Sir Edward Downe

  1. Andante – Allegro (0:00)
  2. Molto vivace (12:34) – Bb major
  3. Andante (19:34) – G minor
  4. Allegro (27:38)

Another youthful student work:

Reinhold Glière began writing the first symphony at least in 1899 and possibly a good deal earlier. One writer suggested he started it at the age of 22, which would have been in 1897. He finished the work in 1900. This earliest symphony, the first of three, is a pleasure to listen to. If you pay careful attention, there are similarities with a good dozen composers, and perhaps for this reason his writing is more or less trashed by many as trite, predictable and in general 2nd rate. One reviewer suggested he should never have published it, because it was a student work. But for me the charm is that he sounds like many people, now and then, and yet there is something about it all that daring, fresh and original. His earliest symphony is a pleasure to listen to, as is true of all developing works of young geniuses.

Without going into too many details, notice that the 2nd movement is in 5/4, and that’s really rare in symphonies. Tchaikovsky used this trick in his 6th symphony, in the 3rd movement. There is something magical about 5/4 time, because most of the time we hear 3+2 or 2+3, yet if it is smooth it has a true five-beat feel.


  • 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in Bb, 2 bassoons
  • 3 flutes (3rd also piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons
  • 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba
  • timpani, bass drum, cymbals
  • strings

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