Robert Ward: Sacred Songs for Pantheists, Symphony No. 3

Iceland Symphony Orchestra; Igor Buketoff, conductor; Sylvia Stahlman, soprano;
Polish National Radio Orchestra; William Strickland, conductor

Robert Ward’s Third Symphony was commissioned by William Strickland and the Friends of Music of Dumbarton Oaks where it was first heard under the composer’s direction on March 31, 1950.

The original version was for single string players and lacked the trumpet part, which was added for the expanded scoring and revision that was premiered by The Juilliard School of Music Symphony Orchestra under Jean Morel in 1953.

The first movement Fantasia is cast in modified sonata form with introduction and coda in slower tempo built on the two initial thematic fragments.

The Arioso slow movement is through-composed, save for a hint of the opening melody at its close. A distinct concertante element comes to the fore in this music through the composer’s use of solo piano and also to a lesser degree the solo winds. In sharp contrast to the brooding agitation of the Fantasia and the nocturnal meditation of the Arioso comes the high-spirited rondo-finale, which one critic described on the occasion of the premiere as “swift, brittle, witty, the season’s best musical joke.”

Sacred Songs for Pantheists was commissioned by the Quincy, Illinois Society of Fine Arts and its conductor, George Irwin. The young American soprano Carolyn Raney, was soloist at the premiere.

Notes Mr. Ward: “The over-all title for the cycle states the unifying element that binds together within the cycle the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, and James Stephens used here.

“The individual songs take their form from the poems, and it seems to me that the line of thought embodied throughout all the poems finds its fitting conclusion in the last lines of ‘God’s Grandeur.’”


This title from the CRI LP back catalog has been carefully transferred from the original master tape, and is now available from New World Records as an on-demand CD (CD-R). It can also be downloaded in MP3/320, FLAC and/or WAV format(s).

We have preserved the original CRI LP catalog number for this title, preceded by the prefix NWCRL, to distinguish previously unavailable back catalog titles from those later reissued by CRI on compact disc.

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Iceland Symphony Orchestra

Robert Ward: Sacred Songs for Pantheists, Symphony No. 3

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $12.99

Track Listing

Sacred Songs for Pantheists: Pied Beauty
Robert Ward
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Sacred Songs for Pantheists: Little Things
Robert Ward
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Sacred Songs for Pantheists: Intoxication
Robert Ward
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Sacred Songs for Pantheists: Heaven-Haven
Robert Ward
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Sacred Songs for Pantheists: God's Grandeur
Robert Ward
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Symphony No. 3: I. Fantasia
Robert Ward
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Symphony No. 3: II. Arioso
Robert Ward
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Symphony No. 3: III. Rondo
Robert Ward
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