• Poul Ruders
  • Symphony No. 6 (2021)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • 2(pic).2(c.a.).2.2/
  • 21 min

Programme Note

My Symphony No.6 differs significantly in shape and character from its five predecessors, and deliberately so. The world isn’t exactly wanting for symphonies, so the least I can do is to make sure that there’s something quite different in the offing, from piece to piece.


To begin with, No.6 is the shortest of the series, with it’s modest duration of only 20-22 minutes. Being in one movement only, it does share a common denominator with one of the other symphonies, No.2.
But that’s it. The new symphony is far more restrained, almost “hugging itself”, and in that way paying homage to the Greek origin of the word Symphonos, i.e. “concordant in sound”. The music doesn’t portray anything spiritually, such as my Symphony “Himmelhoch Jauchzend – zum Tode Betrübt”, but the opening motto reads: “Solemnly striding”, which should give a hint of what’s in store for the listener.


The orchestration is conventional enough, except for the percussion section, which – although quite limited in number of instruments – employs several types of Oriental gongs, and there are no less than 2 piano on the go, the second a so-called Honky-Tonk piano, where only one string belonging to the set of two or three equally tuned strings per piano key and hit by the same felt-hammer to produce the sound we all know, has been tunes a quarter tone “off”, which lends a most refreshing tartness to the overall sound. The word Honky-Tonk  makes you think of an out-of-tune saloon piano  from a Wild West movie scene, but a meticulously “off-tuned” piano is a most delicate and refined instrument indeed – and the sound conjures up wonders in concert, literally so, with the other instruments. In the present case almost entirely together with the low brass, cellos and brasses.

- Poul Ruders

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