extended musical composition

A symphony is a piece of music written for an orchestra to play. It may be quite a long piece. Usually it is divided into parts, usually 3 or 4 parts, which are called movements.

Singapore Symphony Orchestra - Classics in the Park at Singapore Botanic Garden

The first movement of a symphony can be a fast movement, often in sonata form. The second movement can be a slow movement. The third movement can be a minuet or scherzo and a trio. The fourth movement may be called “Finale”; it can be in Rondo form or sonata form or a combination of these. There are lots of different ways of writing a symphony, but this is the pattern that was used by Joseph Haydn who is known as the “Father of the Symphony”, and many composers since have used his pattern of movements for their symphonies and the sound they create.



The word “symphony” comes from the Greek words “sym” (together) and “phone” (sound).

“Symphonic” means “like a symphony”. It is often used to describe music which is quite long and develops tunes over a long period.

A large orchestra is often called a “symphony orchestra”. This is to distinguish it from a small orchestra called a “chamber orchestra”.

Some of the most famous composers of symphonies are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Anton Bruckner, Johannes Brahms, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Gustav Mahler, Jean Sibelius and Dmitri Shostakovich.