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Symphony No. 3 (Szymanowski)

Symphony No. 3 Op. 27 (a.k.a. The Song of the Night) is a symphony composed by Karol Szymanowski during the period 1914 - 1916 after a period spent travelling in Eastern Europe.

The symphony is considered to be one of Szymanowski's finest works. The symphony is a musical setting of a poem by the 13th-century Persian mystic Jalal ud-Din Rumi translated by Polish poet and friend of composer Tadeusz Miciński, supposed to celebrate the exceptional beauty of the Eastern night.

A typical performance of the symphony lasts about 25 minutes.[1][2]



The symphony is influenced by Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolde and Szymanowski derives from Frédéric Chopin's use of chromatic harmony as in his nocturnes to depict the character of night. Another influence is Alexander Scriabin's symphonic poem, Prometheus from which the symphony derives a mystical aura, its one-movement symphonic design, its (partly) wordless chorus, the large orchestra, its climactic organ and its use of a piano (though not as a concertante instrument but rather as an extremely important textural element). A prominent feature of the work is the composer's formation of unique melodic voices moving independently of one another, in a manner which can be described as 'interwoven polymelody'.[1][2]

The symphony is in three un-numbered movements and there is no break between the first and second movements (attacca):[1]

  • Moderato assai
  • Vivace scherzando
  • Largo


Szymanowski scored his symphony for a very large orchestra consisting of standard instruments, as well as unusual “instruments” (for a symphony) such as a solo tenor and an ad lib choir:[2]


  1. ^ a b c Palmer, Christopher (CD booklet insert: Szymanowki-Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3; Bartók-Two Pictures, Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted by Antal Dorati, Decca, Catalogue# 425625-2)
  2. ^ a b c "Universal Edition AG". Retrieved 16 June 2012.

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