Hadley, Henry


Hadley, Henry

Symphony No.4 Op. 64

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Henry Hadley
(b. Somerville, Massachusetts, 20 December 1871 – d. New York, 6 September 1937)

Symphonie Nr.4, Op.64
„North, East, South and West“

North p.3
East p.47
South p.64
West p.99

Henry Hadley was an important and influential figure in American musical life at the end of the 19th and into the first part of the 20th Century. His major and lasting contributions were not only as a composer, but also as a teacher, music educator, performer, conductor, advocate for American music, early sound technology consultant, movie innovator, music festival organizer and as founder of the National Association for American Composers and Conductors. He was one of the most lauded, performed and published American composers during his lifetime, with performances by major ensembles and conductors, not only in the United States but also in Europe.

He was born in 1871 in Somerville, Massachusetts, into a musical family; both his parents as well as his brother were musicians. He studied violin at an early age and also began composing, and by age 17 had written an operetta. He studied composition privately with George W. Chadwick, an important American composer at that time and one who greatly influenced Hadley. By age 21 his compositions included an impressive overture as well as his first String Quartet.

In 1894, he travelled to Vienna to further his studies and absorb the rich musical atmosphere by attending concerts and operas. After a stay of two years he returned to the USA and took a position as a music teacher in a private school in New Jersey. He continued composing, completing two symphonies, and also began his career as a conductor. At a time when conventional musical wisdom dictated that aspiring American composers and conductors had to go to Europe to study and establish a reputation, Hadley returned there again in 1904 to study, compose and also to tour. Both his work as a conductor as well as his compositions brought him numerous accolades throughout Germany and Austria. In 1909, Hadley returned to the United States, where he’d been offered the directorship of the Seattle Symphony and later the San Francisco Symphony. By 1915 he settled in New York to concentrate on composition full-time, also making many appearances as a conductor, with orchestras including the London Symphony, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires. His compositions enjoyed continuing success in both Europe and the United States with performances by the Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera, which to great acclaim premiered his opera Cleopatra’s Night. In the summers of 1934 and 1935, Hadley, conducting member of the New York Philharmonic, founded what was to eventually become the Berkshire Music Festival, which Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony eventually took over in 1936. Henry Hadley died in New York City on September 6, 1937. A good deal of his compositions are for symphony orchestra, including five symphonies, a number of overtures, symphonic poems, suites and two concertos. Symphony No.4 in D minor, Opus 64 was composed for the Norfolk Connecticut Festival and was premiered there in June 1911 by the New York Philharmonic, under the composer’s baton. It subsequently received numerous performances, including the Boston Symphony again with Hadley conducting. He provided program notes on the symphony, which Marina and Victor Ledin summarized as follows: “This symphony is a musical portrayal of moods suggesting, first, the frozen North; second the Far East; third, our own Southern ragtime rhythms; and fourth, the spirit of the West of our Pacific Coast. The first movement suggests the extreme North: snow, ice, barren waste, and tempest. The second movement (East) is an Oriental tone-picture, while the third movement (South), a scherzo, contains themes, which suggest ragtime syncopations. (This movement, typically American, suggests restless energy.) The, fourth and final movement (West) is big, buoyant, and joyous. At the time of writing this movement, the composer was living in that section of the country, and he knew the spirit. There is an Indian theme, given in the English horn, accompanied by two bassoons and Indian drum. This Indian theme must not, however, be taken as anything but episodical. It must not be forgotten that this ‘Western spirit’ came originally from the strip of States on the Atlantic Coast, and is an extension rather than a new product. There is a love theme, too (second subject), but the symphony ends triumphantly, the Allegro theme (enlarged) in brass, with brilliant fashion making the close.

During his lifetime many knowledgeable musicians and critics considered him as the greatest American composer.

“Generally speaking, I have always looked upon him as the foremost American composer in point of actual achievement. To me it has always seemed that he painted his musical canvas with such a colossal sweep, gave utterance to ideas of such deep significance and commanded such a gorgeous opulence of tonal expression as to dwarf into insignificance the efforts of most of his contemporaries and finally let us not wait until he is dead, but accord to our great American composer, Henry Hadley, the creator of ‘Salome,’ the ‘North, East, South and West’ Symphony, ‘Azora,’ ‘Bianca’ and other wonderful works, while yet he is with us in the flesh, what is simply the just due of his actual achievement.” (James P. Dunn)

“The novelty was ‘Salome’ by the gifted Henry Hadley. The moods were kaleidoscopic but the melodic line was easy to follow — clarity is always a characteristic of Hadley. He is an admirable technician. He knows to a hair’s breadth every effect, which he wishes to produce. There is no fumbling in the writing and the orchestral color is rich and not exaggerated. We enjoyed this composition, which is ambitiously planned and excellently carried out.” (James Huneker)

“Few contemporary composers know how to handle the orchestral forces with such supreme command of their possibilities as Henry Hadley. He knows what every group does best and makes it do it. The “Ocean” tone poem being orchestrated and developed with cleverness that Strauss himself could scarcely surpass.” (Henry T. Finck)

After his death his music gradually fell into obscurity, as his romantic style largely passed out of fashion. He however continues to have conductors, scholars and music lovers, who attest to the value of his art.

Karl Hinterbichler
University of New Mexico

For parts please contact Schirmer, New York.

Score Data


Repertoire Explorer




210 x 297 mm





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