Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 1

Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 1

Melody

The DI theme is quoted and varied in 3 main ways.

  1. Bars 3 and 4 with upbeat: transposed down a minor third with the 5th note missing and the intervals adapted and the key remaining the same (in D minor).
  2. Bars 10 and 11: transposed up a third while the key remains the same (in D minor)
  3. Upbeat to the 5th bar of figure 8: Dies Irae theme delivered complete and transposed to B minor.

Texture

The DI theme is quoted and varied by instrumentation and texture.

  1. Bars 3 and 4 with upbeat: The varied Dies Irae theme is played by the entire string section in octaves accompanied by a tonic pedal in the winds and brass.
  2. Bars 10 and 11: Dies Irae theme is played by the principal clarinetist with string accompaniment.
  3. Upbeat to the 5th bar of figure 8: Dies Irae theme shared between various instruments (flutes and piccolo) of the orchestra in a heterophonic texture with accompaniment by the winds, horns and trombones, trumpet fanfare at the end of each phrase, and strings oompah accompaniment pizzicato triple-stops.

Harmony

The DI theme is harmonized in 3 different ways.

  1. Opening: The tonic pedal (D) increases the tension of the opening (bars 1 to 6) by creating dissonance.
  2. Bars 10 and 11: The DI theme in the melody is accompanied by a D minor chord and a rising melodic minor scale in the viola.
  3. Upbeat to the 5th bar of figure 8: The DI theme is accompanied by – alternating major minor triads in root position

Rhythm

The rhythm of the DI theme is varied in 2 different ways.

  1. Bars 3 and 4 with upbeat: The rhythm of the DI theme is slightly varied with a dotted quarter note on the second note of the theme followed by an eighth note on the third note of the theme. The theme enters on an upbeat and the entire DI is displaced by one beat.
  2. Bars 10 and 11: The rhythm of the DI theme is to the same as the opening of the symphony.
  3. Upbeat to the 5th bar of figure 8: The rhythm of the DI theme is evenly played in 8th notes throughout the section. Instead of delivering the simple DI theme, Rachmaninoff implants the theme in a continuous eighth note phrase.

Form

The DI theme mainly occurs in 3 different parts of the sonata form.

  1. Bars 3 and 4: The DI theme occurs as the  theme of the opening.
  2. Bars 10 and 11: The DI theme occurs as the first subject of the exposition.
  3. Upbeat to the 5th bar of figure 8: The DI theme occurs  at the climax of the development section.
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