What's a Symphonina?

A ‘Symphonina’ is new genre of classical music. It's a small complete melodic symphony that plays in about 10 minutes with 3 or 4 movements, each the length of a typical streaming pop tune. 

In 2018, U.S. composer Dr. David Fogel created a new genre of classical music – the Symphonina – after noticing that he was often among the youngest members of the symphony-going public, despite being in his 50s. His goal was to create a format for symphonic music of all styles that will be compelling for young people to both stream online and listen to in a live performance.

Symphoninas, in essence, tie the past to the future, completing a fascinating cycle of musical history. Early classical symphonies evolved from the three-movement Italian overture (or sinfonia) which had a basic fast-slow-fast layout. The last movement was often in 3/8 time. In the 1760s and 1770s, in Mozart’s and Haydn’s time, an extra movement was added in between the second and last movements, which was usually a minuet. The last movement of the symphony no longer had to be in 3/8 time.

The overall length of a typical symphony in the 1760s was usually between 10 and 20 minutes. After the 1760s, as the years went by, symphonies gradually got longer. By the late romantic era, with composers such as Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, symphonies were between 35 and 50 minutes in length. Some, such as those by Mahler and Bruckner, often went for an hour or more.

With an understanding that most music is now streamed online and that younger audiences are accustomed to shorter pop/rock tunes, David set out to create a format – the Symphonina – that revisits the magical time-period of the classical 1760s, while being open to all romantic and modern styles, bringing a full symphonic performance to audiences young and old in about 10 minutes or less.

“Kids, young adults, all of us really, enjoy symphony music, but younger people don’t get to hear much of it outside of movies and video games. Most people now listen to music on their phone, and I understand the average length of a tune that is streamed online is now about 3 minutes,” David relates. “It seems that our attention spans keep getting shorter in a world full of distractions. Rather than fight that trend and try to entice younger audiences to stream the traditional – albeit wonderful – symphonies that last 45 minutes or more, my goal was to create something new – a full symphonic experience where each movement is between about 2 minutes and 30 seconds to 4 minutes. That way, everyone can appreciate symphonic music within the time it takes to listen to a few pop tunes – and my hope is not only will people enjoy this new format but it will get them more eager to explore the classics, and even create new symphonic music for the world to enjoy.”

David wrote the first Symphonina in 2018 and has followed with nine additional Symphoninas since.