Serenata For Orchestra (Piston)
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Serenata For Orchestra Piston

Walter Piston's Serenata for Orchestra is an orchestral suite or miniature symphony written in 1956.


Piston composed the Serenata in 1956, on commission for the Louisville Orchestra (Powell 1960, 319), and is dedicated to conductor Robert Whitney, who led the work's premiere on October 25, 1956.


The work is in three movements.

  • Con allegrezza
  • Con sentimento
  • Con spirito

The outer movements of the Serenata are in D major, and the overall form resembles a miniature symphony lasting only twelve minutes. This, the title, and certain melodic gestures make this composition more Mozartean than any of Piston's neoclassical works from the 1930s, though it remains further from 18th-century styles than neoclassical works of Poulenc, Prokofiev, or Stravinsky (Pollack 1982, 121). The first movement is reminiscent of the Ballando ("dancing") movement of Piston's Fourth Symphony. The middle movement is dominated by a long-lined tune, and the work closes with a high-spirited, strutting finale (Powell 1960, 319). Tonal emphasis in the finale on the tonic minor, subdominant, and minor dominant lend an ambiguity to the D-major conclusion that is characteristic for Piston (Pollack 1982, 122).


  • Walter Piston: Serenata for Orchestra; David Van Vactor: Fantasia, Chaconne, and Allegro; Niels Viggo Bentzon: Pezzi sinfonici; Louisville Orchestra; Robert Whitney, cond. LP recording. Louisville Orchestra First Edition Records LOU-586. Louisville, Ky.: Louisville Orchestra, 1958.
  • Walter Piston: Symphony No. 4; Capriccio for Harp and String Orchestra; Serenata for Orchestra; Three New England Sketches. Therese Elder Wunrow, harp; Seattle Symphony Orchestra; Gerard Schwarz. CD recording. Delos DE 3106. Hollywood, CA: Delos International, 1991.


  • Pollack, Howard. 1982. Walter Piston. Studies in Musicology. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press. ISBN 0-8357-1280-X.
  • Powell, Mel. 1960. "Walter Piston: Serenata for Orchestra, 1956; Bo Nilsson: Mädchentotenlieder; Roman Haubenstock-Ramati: Ständchen, sur le nom de Heinrich Strobel; Claude Ballif: Fantasie, Op. 21; Claude Ballif: Voyage de mon oreille, Op. 20; Yannis Xenakis: Achorripsis, für Orchester; Giselher Klebe: Konzert für Violoncello und Orchester, Op. 29; Ingvar Lidholm: Ritornello per orchestra; Hans Werner Henze: Drei Dithyramben, für Kammerorchester". Notes, Second Series, Vol. 17, No. 2 (March): 318-21.

Further reading

  • Johnson, Bret. 1992. Record review: "Piston: Symphony No.4; Capriccio for Harp and Strings; Serenata; Three New England Sketches. Seattle Symphony, New York Chamber Symphony of the 92nd Street Y, c. Gerard Schwarz. Delos DE 3106. Harbison: Viola Concerto; Laderman: Concerto for Double Orchestra. Jaime Laredo (vla), New Jersey Symphony Orchestra c. Hugh Wolff. New World 80404-2. Rorem: Eagles; Piano Concerto in Six Movements; Air Music. Jerome Lowenthal (pno), Louisville Orchestra c. Gerhardt Zimmerman, Jorge Mester, Peter Leonard. Albany Records TROY 047. Barber: Prayers of Kierkegaard, op.30; The Lovers, op.43. Sarah Reese (sop), Dale Duesing (bar), Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus c. Andrew Schenck. Koch International Classics 3-7125-2H1". Tempo, new series, no. 181 (June: Scandinavian Issue): 44-45.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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