Symphony No. 4 (Chávez)

Symphony No. 4, subtitled Sinfonía romántica (Romantic Symphony) is an orchestral composition by Carlos Chávez, composed in 1953.


The score was commissioned by and is dedicated to the Louisville Orchestra, which premiered the work on 11 February 1953, conducted by the composer. After the first few performances, Chávez decided that the final movement, though sound in itself, was not satisfactory as a conclusion to this symphony. Consequently, he composed a new finale in October 1953, and published the original movement as a separate work, titled Baile (cuadro sinfónico) (Dance, Symphonic Picture) (Orbón 1987c, 80).


The Symphony is scored for an orchestra of three flutes (third doubling piccolo), two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets, three bassoons (third doubling contrabassoon), four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (three players), and strings.


The Symphony is divided into three movements:

  1. Allegro
  2. Molto lento
  3. Vivo non troppo mosso

In contrast to the Third Symphony, there are no formal innovations here (Orbón 1987c, 67). The symphony is in the key of A—a sort of A minor tonality—though the overall character is brighter and more optimistic than the Third Symphony. Chávez treats his material cyclically, which means that thematic elements reappear throughout all three movements (García Morillo 1960, 159).


  • Carlos Chávez: Sinfonía india, Sinfonía de Antígona, Sinfonía romántica. Stadium Symphony Orchestra, Carlos Chávez, cond. LP recording. Everest LPBR 6029 (monaural), SDBR 3029 (stereo). [Los Angeles]: Everest Records, 1959. Reissued on CD (with the orchestra named as New York Stadium Symphony Orchestra), Philips Legendary Classics 422 305-2. [West Germany]: Philips Classics Productions, 1989. Reissued on CD, Everest EVC-9041. New York: Everest Records, 1996. ["Stadium Symphony Orchestra" is the name taken by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for its summer performances in the Lewisohn Stadium.]
  • Chávez: Sinfonía de Antígona, Symphony No. 4 Sinfonía romántica; Revueltas: Caminos, Música para charlar, Ventanas. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Chávez); Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México (Revueltas); Enrique Bátiz, cond. CD recording (stereo). ASV Digital CD DCA 653. London: Academy Sound and Vision Ltd., 1989. Repackaged with additional material, as Symphony no. 1 Sinfonía de Antigona (1933); Symphony no. 2 Sinfonía india (1935–36); La hija de Cólquide = The Daughter of Colchis: Symphonic Suite (1943); Symphony no. 4 Sinfonía romántica (1953); Baile = Dance: Symphonic Painting (1953). ASV CD DCA 1058. London: Academy Sound and Vision, 1999.
  • The Six Symphonies of Carlos Chávez . Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México; Carlos Chávez, cond. 3-LP set (stereo). CBS Masterworks 32 31 0002 (32 11 0020, 32 11 0022, 32 11 0024). New York: CBS, 1967.
  • The Six Symphonies of Carlos Chávez. London Symphony Orchestra; Eduardo Mata, cond. 3-LP set (stereo). Vox Cum Laude 3D-VCL 9032. New York: Moss Music Group, 1983. Reissued on 2-CD set as Carlos Chávez: The Complete Symphonies. VoxBox2 CDX 5061. Hauppauge, NY: Moss Music Group, 1992.
  • Música Méxicana Vol. 7: Chávez: Cantos de México, Toccata for Orchestra, Paisajes mexicanos, La hija de Cólquide, Baile (Cuadro sinfónico) [the original fourth movement of Symphony No. 4]. Claudia Coonce, oboe; The State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra; Enrique Bátiz, cond. CD recording (stereo). ASV Digital CD DCA 927. London: Academy Sound and Vision Ltd., 1995.
  • Leonard Bernstein: Historical Recordings 1941–1961. 12-CD set. West Hill Radio Archives WHRA-6048. [Europe]: West Hill Radio Archives, 2013. CD 11 includes Chávez's Symphony No. 4, performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein, recorded 8 February 1960 in Carnegie Hall, New York City.


  • Chávez, Carlos. 1959. Symphony No. 4: Sinfonía Romántica. Hawkes Pocket Scores. London: Hawkes & Son, Ltd.
  • Copland, Aaron. 1967. Letter to Carlos Chávez (28 July). "The Aaron Copland Collection ca. 1900–1990". The Library of Congress: American Memory website (Accessed 30 June 2012).
  • García Morillo, Roberto. 1960. Carlos Chávez: Vida y obra. Tierra Firme. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. ISBN 968-16-0222-6.
  • Goldman, Richard Franko. 1960. "Chávez: Sinfonía India (Symphony No. 2); Sinfonía de Antigona (Symphony No. 1); Sinfonía Romantica (Symphony No. 4). Stadium Symphony Orchestra of New York, cond. Carlos Chávez. Everest LPBR-6029". The Musical Quarterly 46, no. 3 (July): 396–97.
  • Orbón, Julián. 1987a. "Las sinfonías de Carlos Chávez." (part 1) Pauta: Cuadernos de teoría y crítica musical 6, no. 21 (January–March): 63–75. Reprinted as "Las sinfonías de Carlos Chávez" in: Julián Orbón. En la esencia de los estilos y otros ensayos, foreword by Julio Estrada, 148–58. Madrid: Editorial Colibrí, 2000. ISBN 84-923550-4-2.
  • Orbón, Julián. 1987b. "Las sinfonías de Carlos Chávez." (part 2). Pauta: Cuadernos de teoría y crítica musical 6, no. 22 (April–June): 81–91.
  • Orbón, Julián. 1987c. "Las sinfonías de Carlos Chávez." (part 3). Pauta: Cuadernos de teoría y crítica musical 6, no. 23 (July–September): 67–80.
  • Orbón, Julián. 2015. "Carlos Chávez's Symphonies", translated, introduced, and annotated by Leonora Saavedra. In Carlos Chávez and His World, edited by Leonora Saavedra, 62–75. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0-691-16947-7 (cloth); ISBN 978-0-691-16948-4. Translated from the Spanish liner notes for Chávez: The Complete Symphonies, London Symphony Orchestra, Eduardo Mata (cond.). Peerless Records, 1982.
  • Parker, Robert L. 1983. Carlos Chávez, Mexico's Modern-Day Orpheus. Twayne's Music Series. Boston: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-9455-7.
  • Parker, Robert. 2001. "Chávez (y Ramírez), Carlos (Antonio de Padua)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

Further readingEdit