Symphony No. 7

Allan Pettersson

Symphony No. 7

About this work

In common with his other symphonies, Pettersson's Seventh is in a one movement form; it runs about three-quarters of an hour of concentrated, intense music. It is also the work which brought the ailing composer his greatest degree of international fame, primarily through the championship of conductor Antal D¢rati, and has even served as the score for a ballet, named "Rapport." In considering how to characterize the emotionalism of the symphony, the contradictory adjectives "gloomy" and "confident" keep welling up. This might flow from the nature of the core motive of the work, an obsessive pattern of four eighth-notes and two half-notes which provides a treading beat for the music. These are given, initially, to the dark voices of the trombones and tuba, but they form the positive interval of the major third. This pattern often provides support for a high unison violin theme, which continually outlines minor thirds in its melodic pattern, another marker towards tragedy. This dialectic of moods yields a synthesis of purposeful striving to hold back darkness, which, when all is said, is essentially a positive ideal. For this reason, and because the core motive provides a convenient and recurring signpost for the ear, this symphony is the ideas choice for those first becoming acquainted with the music of Pettersson. It is one of the great symphonic masterpieces of this century.

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