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Symphony No 1 in B flat major 'Spring', Op 38


Schumann’s first symphony came with astonishing speed. He noted ‘beginning of a symphony in C minor’ on 21 January 1841, but the work was abandoned. Two days later, however, inspired by a poem by Adolf Böttger, he wrote ‘Spring symphony started’. On 24 January, the first movement of the new work was sketched and the ‘adagio and scherzo made ready’; on 25 January ‘symphony fire—sleepless nights—on the last movement’ and on the fourth and final day, ‘Hurrah! symphony finished!’ Orchestration would occupy him till 20 February, but in four days and nights—‘it mostly seems to have been written at night’—he had effectively written the Symphony in B flat that would become his Op 38. Clara wrote in their joint diary: ‘I am infinitely happy that Robert has at last arrived where, with his great imagination, he belongs’.

It fell to Felix Mendelssohn to premiere the work, at a concert that March when Clara would be performing for the first time since her wedding. On 6 and 10 March, Schumann went through the symphony with Mendelssohn. The late beginner was deeply impressed by his friend’s understanding: ‘He always sees the right thing and fastens on to it’. There was, for example, a problem with the horn calls at the very opening of the symphony—valved horns were just coming in—and at a rehearsal Schumann had to rewrite the passage to obtain something more like the effect he wanted. After some furious copying of parts, the ‘Spring’ Symphony was given at the Leipzig Gewandhaus on 31 March 1841, just over nine weeks after Schumann had started it. The evening was a triumph, with congratulations coming from all sides. The work was performed again in Leipzig on 13 August, after still further revisions.

from notes by John Worthen © 2014


Schumann: Spring Symphony
CDH88020Archive Service
Schumann: Symphonies
Studio Master: CKD450Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Movement 1: Andante un poco maestoso – Allegro molto vivace
Movement 2: Larghetto –
Movement 3: Scherzo: Molto vivace
Movement 4: Finale: Allegro animato e grazioso

Track-specific metadata for CDH88020 track 3

Scherzo: Molto vivace
Recording date
15 August 1987
Recording venue
The Casino, Berne, Switzerland
Recording producer
Tony Faulkner
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Schumann: Spring Symphony (CDH88020)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: September 1988
    Archive Service
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