Symphony in D Major

By Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga
Composed in 1824-25

Arriaga, who lived from 1806 to 1826, showed an early talent for a musical career. Known as “the Spanish Mozart,” he was born in Bilbao in northern Spain, and composed his only opera (Los Esclavos Felices) at the age of 14.

Arriaga’s talent so impressed Bilbao’s notables that they sent him to study in Paris in 1821, where he composed three string quartets and this symphony before his untimely death from tuberculosis at age 19.

Arriaga wrote his Symphony in D Major in 1824-5. It is a work with decided influences reminiscent of Schubert and Mozart, especially in its use of keys and harmonies. The opening adagio intersperses solo wind passages with brooding string motifs; this segues into an impassioned allegro, dramatically in the minor key. The andante is conventionally classical in form, but shows an inventive use of woodwinds and unusual string passagework. A minuetto and trio follows, the latter with solo flute and guitar-like string pizzicato effects.

The last movement opens again in the minor key, with an Italianate violin theme. A delightful second theme follows (again in the violins). A return to the major key heralds the triumphant finale.