Symphony No. 8 (Sessions)

The Symphony No. 8 of Roger Sessions was composed in 1968.[1][2]

It is a work in two movements lasting together about fourteen minutes:[1]

  1. Adagio e mesto
  2. Allegro con brio

Noteworthy in the context of Sessions' symphonies is the use of maracas to accompany the theme in the first movement.[citation needed] Andrea Olmstead describes all of Sessions's symphonies as "serious" and "funereal", with No. 8 being one of four with, "quiet reflective endings."[3] No. 8 combines the, "fearsome rhythmic and harmonic densities," of his maturity, "with the extended melodic phrases," which were always characteristic of Sessions.[4]

The symphony was premiered on May 2, 1968, by the New York Philharmonic conducted by William Steinberg.[1]


The symphony is scored for a large orchestra consisting of three flutes (third doubling alto flute), three oboes, four clarinets (fourth doubling E clarinet), four bassoons (fourth doubling contrabassoon), four horns, three trumpets, four trombones, tuba, timpani, two percussionists, piano, harp, and strings.[5]


  • Frederik Prausnitz, conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra. LP recording, 1 disc. Argo ZRG 702. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Series 3. 1973. With Sessions' Rhapsody for Orchestra and works by Wallingford Riegger and Thea Musgrave.
  • Leon Botstein, conducting the American Symphony Orchestra. Recorded 9 October 2004, at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Bard College New York. CD recording, 1 disc. New World Records 80631-2. New York: Recorded Anthology of American Music, 2005. With works by Aaron Copland, George Perle and Bernard Rands.


  1. ^ a b c "Notes to a CD Recording of Sessions' Symphony No. 8". Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  2. ^ "(Principal) Works", The Roger Sessions Society. Accessed: Aug. 18, 2015.
  3. ^ Olmstead, Andrea (2012). Roger Sessions: A Biography, p.356. Routledge. ISBN 9781135868925.
  4. ^ Olmstead (2012), p.363.
  5. ^ "Sessions: Symphony No. 8", Edward B. Marks Music Company: Classical (publisher's website, accessed 26 August 2015).

Further readingEdit

  • Imbrie, Andrew (1972). "The Symphonies of Roger Sessions". Tempo (new series), no. 103 (December): 24–32.
  • Kress, Steven Morton (1982). "Roger Sessions, Composer and Teacher: A Comparative Analysis of Roger Sessions' Philosophy of Educating Composers and His Approach to Composition in Symphonies No. 2 and 8". PhD diss. Gainesville: University of Florida.